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Honey, popular in facials and moisturizing body treatments, has long been recognized for its topical heal- ing properties. It was used in numer- ous healing rituals throughout ancient Greece and Rome; Cleopatra was said to use honey in her royal bath water.


India


Today, increasing numbers of people are accessing India’s 5,000-year-old medical system of Ayurveda and the centuries-old practice of yoga. Mod- ern studies of the healing qualities of harmonic sound also have resulted in the production of soothing Eastern and other soundtracks for various traditions of massage as well as the use of Tibetan singing bowls during massage and energy treatments.


The use of gemstones to balance emotions and realign energy patterns, too, has gained popularity. Gemstone therapy has roots in many cultures, including Greek, Egyptian and Judaic societies. It was in India, however, that their spiritual and healing powers were most recognized, with mentions in the Vedic scriptures. Gemstones have


been shown to emit specific vibrational frequencies that many believe capable of affecting the body’s own frequencies, functions and well-being.


Africa and Australia


From Africa, the practice of rhythmic drumming to induce a meditative state is still used by shamans as a way to enter the spirit world, where questions may be answered and individuals can progress along their healing journey. Aboriginal medicine men in Australia also use drumming, repetitive percussive music and crystals to gain insight into dreams, which they believe are mediums for important messages— including messages of healing.


Asia


Asian cultures understand the health benefits of meditation practice. Today’s moving meditative methods include Tai chi and qigong, as well as the tradition of Japanese flower arrangement known as ikebana.


Once restricted to Japanese male


nobility, today, the inspiring and calm- ing ritual of ikebana can be practiced


by everyone. The practice makes use of found objects, such as rocks, branches, feathers and other offerings from nature, often with the addition of fresh flowers or greenery. Through contem- plation and meditation, the practitioner seeks to create a harmonious arrange- ment of the gathered components. Japanese tea ceremonies are an- other time-honored ritual with multiple health benefits. Today, the antioxidant properties found in tea are well known. The practice of slowing down and tak- ing time for introspection at a regular interval each day also works to reduce stress and create an oasis in the midst of a busy schedule.


Participating in healing rituals and therapies from around the world pro- vides ways for us to reconnect with our past. They remind us of what our an- cestors knew so well—that body, mind and spirit cannot be separated. True health embodies the whole person.


Debra Bokur is the travel and wellness editor at HealingLifestyles.com and a regular contributor to Fit Yoga and Global Traveler. Connect at NextPlane- Media.com.


natural awakenings


December 2013


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