I marched with a million others last week, though I was sitting down at the time. The virtual healthcare march on Washington, D.C., was staged digitally. We all just clicked on the right links at the right time. It felt politically smart but, on a personal level, disappointingly passive.
I want action. I want to stand up and do something for healthcare reform, which is equivalent to standing up for basic human rights, the bedrock of social sustainability. And since I will be losing my own health insurance this spring, it gores me to sit here waiting for an outcome that's in the hands of politicians, most of whom I would never invite over for dinner.
Practicing keyboard activism for healthcare reform is certainly necessary, but it is not enough. So I've been pondering what to do that can make a real difference. The answer from many sources was brought into focus by a 2007 book from Santa Rosa researcher Dawson Church called The Genie in Your Genes: Epigenetic Medicine and the New Biology of Intention. Shifting my perspective from the political to the personal, Church's explanation of healing expanded my approach to heathcare reform. It now occurs to me that marching for my own healthcare is essential. Not a sign-waving stomp in front of the White House, but a cross-crawl at home.
The cross-crawl is misnamed. It's a physical exercise that resembles a march, invigorating and fun. But the scope of Dawson's book is well beyond the movement of muscles; it is about the scientific thinking and spiritual practices that underlie energy psychology and energy medicine, the combination of which is "epigenetic" medicine, a term coined in 1942.
This is not mainstream medicine. Blue Cross-Blue Shield won't pay for it because it involves no surgery or drugs, and is more closely linked to ancient healing practices than to Western medicine. And this is a good thing. Epigenetic medicine is based on the science of energy, rooted in physics research, and holds that the emotions and the conscious intentions we hold are keys that open doors to health.
Early research in the field assumed that we were fatefully under the thumb of our genes, stuck in a kind of DNA doom, but epigenetic research indicates that genes are not always the drivers, that the heart and mind have control over many gene expressions. In fact, our thoughts, behaviors, feelings and experiences impact the expression of over 1,500 genes in our bodies, according to Church.
A study by Harvard Medical School physician Herbert Benson shows that a simple relaxation technique improved an array of physical conditions. "Changing the mind," Benson is quoted in the book, "can affect gene expression." The genes changed by relaxation techniques included those involved with inflammation, cell regeneration rate and free-radical scavenging, which is associated with aging.
According to several studies described in the book, we have in our power the ability to change and heal ourselves in profound ways, leaving the pharmaceutical corporations and associated puppet doctors out of the healing loop—and out of our pockets. This sounds like health reform at its most powerful. But if insurance providers don't cover energy medicine, is it only for the wealthy?
"Absolutely not," says Amy Frisina, a Sebastopol-based energy medicine practitioner who is certified in Eden Energy Medicine. "You can practice energy medicine yourself, and it doesn't cost you anything. The whole point of the work is to teach people to take care of themselves, to focus on what the body can do without invasive procedures."
The role of the practitioner is assessment and teaching. "There are times when it's more effective to have a certified energy medicine practitioner assess your needs," Frisina explains. But with energy medicine, apparently, you can get healed without being held hostage or losing your life savings. Part of an energy medicine routine offered by healer Donna Eden (outlined in Appendix B of the Genie book) is a five-minute series of exercises that reduces stress and boosts energy. Included is the cross-crawl, which is really a march. In fact, it's my new, nonvirtual march to reform health care.