This is a guest article written by Frances Geoghegan, the founder of Healing Holidays. Frances first recognised a new demand for wellness from luxury travellers over 15 years ago. Having lived through a personal bereavement and her own health issues, she was driven to seek out the best international medical practitioners and finest alternative wellness experts. The result was Healing Holidays, an industry pioneer that has since propelled her to becoming one of Europe’s leading wellness experts, named as one of Condé Nast Traveller’s “World’s Best Travel Specialists”.
I have noticed, over the last ten years, an increased and sustained demand for traditional wellness methods, such as the ‘Mayr cure’, (found in clinics across Austria and Germany), Ayurveda programmes (in India and Sri Lanka), and Traditional Chinese Medicine programmes, which are practised across the world. This new-found reverence for the old traditions doesn’t come as a huge surprise to me because now, more than ever, we are all seeking reassurance from expertise and we want something that has a proven track record, and all of these methods certainly offer this.
Most of these methods or cures, for example Ayurveda, are older than Buddhism. They look at the whole picture including the mind, body and spirit, all of which hold equal importance.
Ayurveda is believed to be the oldest surviving traditional system, having being practiced in India for over 5000 years. Translating from Sanskrit as the ‘science of life’, it offers a complete, all-encompassing programme on how to live your life, predicated on the idea that we all are made up of different types of energy, or Doshas. Unlike a visit to our GP when you are ill, your evaluation will take longer than a few minutes, and goes way beyond a basic physical examination – an Ayurvedic Doctor will ask you a lot of questions, will take your pulse, examine your tongue and give you a good looking over. Your lifestyle and sleeping habits will also be discussed, as well as your emotional state. There are three doshas in Ayurveda, which show the dominant mind/body state – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, and even though all three are present in us all, we each have a dominant dosha, inherited from birth, and ideally an equal, (though often fluctuating), balance between the other two. It’s a simple system to understand – when the doshas are in balance, we are healthy, but when they are unbalanced, we can develop disease.
The famous Mayr method, beloved by A-listers and the world’s top models, is over 100 years old and was founded on the theories of Dr Mayr, who believed the route to good health is via the gut or second brain. Any imbalances in the digestive system lead to disease. It’s an equally simple philosophy to get your head around; poor digestion is induced by a poor diet or by not chewing your food properly. This, combined with increased stress from modern living, as well as a more sedentary lifestyle, has put huge stress on our digestive system, all of which leads to poor health. Your Mayr Doctor diagnosis is equally thorough, with a series of prescribed tests with your Doctor, and a bespoke plan to get you back to good health.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), with over 2000 years of history, is built on its own complete medical system. It believes all of the body’s organs mutually support each other, and is all about balance, harmony and energy. When your yin and yang of Qi, (life energy) are in balance, you will be healthy and well. A typical assessment under TCM involves a full look at your health history, tongue & pulse assessments and a physical examination. The aim is to identify any imbalances or Qi blockages.
The common denominator between all these practices is that they each seek to identify the root of the problem, and not just the symptoms, and this is the real reason why so many seek out these aged practices. We all want much more than a prescription and a temporary fix, we want lasting results. We want a multi-prong attack, and to know how our emotional and physical beings are inexorably linked. There is so much to be learned from these great practices and the best way forward is that we should be offered them more in tandem with modern medicine and not as things which we need to seek out ourselves.