By Virginia Snyder
What might best contribute to a healing environment? The answer is complex, in part because it can vary, based on culture and personal preferences. But current research strongly supports a number of physical and organizational aspects of health and wellness that facilities can support.
Before we look in detail at outside features in part II of this article series, let’s delve inside, to consider what we mean by healing (using our awareness of the environment), by asking someone who is in natural settings as much as possible to influence overall healing and wellness: the so-called Foot Whisperer, Randy Eady.
VS: What is healing? And what are the benefits of using nature in healing?
RE: The word healing comes from the Anglo-Saxon word haelen, which means to make whole.
One way to look at it is as a harmonizing of mind, body, and spirit. Healing is not the same as curing (which is more about fixing problems, eradicating disease, and decreasing symptoms). People can often be healed even if they are not cured. For example, those with a chronic disease can learn to live in peace with their condition. Conversely, people may be cured but not healed. For example, amputees that continue to experience phantom limb trauma or pain or also manifest grief and anger at the loss/inability to perform certain previously mastered function.
VS: Whether it’s a cure or a healing, what is the most significant effect you look for in your healing therapy?
RE: One common effect of healing is a reduction in stress and anxiety, which positively impacts our bodies in many ways and in turn, influences our psychological frame of mind.
VS: So what are the main factors that create a healing environment?
RE: It begins with our interior living spaces and their elements:
Our experience of our living spaces also includes sounds (music), aromas, and sensations (walking on soft carpet or smooth hardwood).
In addition, our experience is also affected by the:
- Larger physical environment:
○ Building design: the buildings that surround us in our day-to-day encounters-our homes, the bank, the hospital, and so on.
○ Urban design: (if you live in a town or city): the layout and elements of streets and neighborhoods.
- Social environment: the people with whom we share the interior space and all the factors associated with them-mood, behavior, and relationship. This also extends to the various communities of people we belong to.
- Natural environment: the natural surroundings, air, water, earth.
And perhaps, most importantly, our experience is influenced by our own “interoceptive environment” — (which shapes our parasympathetic response deep in our fascia): to flavorour memories, as well as our attitudes, beliefs, values, and intentions.
VS: While we’ll get back to the idea of fascia and interoception, can you reference any historical precedent healer or healing philosophy that would help people connect to this subject matter?
RE: Yes, in the 19th century, Florence Nightingale spoke of the importance of natural light, fresh air, touch, diet, noise control, and spirituality for healing, saying that health practitioners and advocates should “put the patient in the best possible condition so that nature can act and healing occur.” Florence also recognized the importance of the internal environment: “To heal, one must be sound in body, mind, and spirit.”
Nightingale articulates an integrative model of place, people, processes, and principles involved in patient care. This inclusive view of what is needed to heal is not new. Thousands of years ago, Greek temples were designed to surround patients with nature, music, and art to restore harmony and promote healing.
As you can see, it’s a model that enlivens from the inside-out: influence is on the inner environment to have a progressively greater impact on the outer environment. Thus healing intention, personal wholeness, and healing relationships are foundational to a healthy lifestyle. They bring forth an emboldened “sense of self” that collaborates as an informed consumer of healing practices and approaches.
VS: What is physiological research in hearing science and why your fascination with Alligators and how they hear?
RE: Most directly, Anthropology taught me that if a species maintains a piece of anatomy, it’s because it’s being used for something. Plus, Crocs’ and ‘Gators are the Earth’s premier Cosmonauts of Balance.
Before we look at that, let’s consider what we mean by physiology, function and how interacting in the environment applies to overall healing and wellness.
If anatomy is the structure of the brain, then physiology is the function of the brain. As a Balance and Movement Disorder Specialist, I’m very intrigued by how the brain discriminates and converts electro-magnetic energy. It does this via the sense organs and particularly the vestibular system and ears. For instance, if you look at anatomy, you see that almost every animal species has feedback from the brain to the ear in various forms. I was so fascinated by what this might portend that I explored the stimulation of what evolved from the very first ears to absorb sound vibration in water and air: the crocodile’s ear.
Come with me on a trip into the Everglades and skip a rock across a pond…hear the sound of the rippling splash?
What if we were to feel that vibration (or pick up the polarizing spark) as the stone strikes the water?Evidently our body does; there’s no doubt. Sound has a very powerful effect on how we feel and get about in the world. And the bones, tissue and nerves in our head that link to perceiving sound actually originate from our body’s ability to sense vibration and electrical current to sustain orientation and balance. Balancing is our true sixth sense – it enables us to sense how our body is moving around in the world and keep us upright and also internally in balance.
VS: So you’re saying that a simple ability we take for granted, like balance, is actually doing a lot more for our health then we realize?
RE: Precisely, it’s actually three systems, operating at the maximum threshold of efficiency, to “orchestrate” an amazing dynamic concert of movement. And, It all starts with the first ears developed to perceive vibration outside of water. Alligators and crocodiles use vibration extensively to hunt prey in limited light. Prey, that once grasped, is twirled and torn in a water dervish to make any dancer marvel. With the help of a triangulated tail (broad on three sides) and a highly evolved ability to regulate orientation (in 3-D), these reptiles are also the world’s first cosmonauts in training. To learn more see: All About Those Rolling Stones by Randy Eady Article Source:http://EzineArticles.com/3774625
New research also suggests that hearing and balance aren’t the only things the Crocodilian family are clever at accomplishing. Two crocodilian species – muggers and American alligators – have been documented using twigs and sticks to entice birds. The reptiles display a remarkable cunning (and appreciation of light/seasonal bio-dynamic change) by using these wooden lures to attract birds in the midst of nest-building season.
The observations, which are reported in the journal Ethology, Ecology and Evolution, mark the first use of tools ever documented in a reptile species. It is also the first known case of a reptilian predator timing its use of lures with migratory/seasonal behavior of its prey.
Vladimir Dinets, a research professor at the University of Tennessee, and his colleagues first made the observations in 2007 in India. He witnessed crocodiles there lying in shallow water along the edge of the pond with small sticks or twigs positioned in their mouths so that they jutted out beyond the reptiles’ snouts. The crocodiles would lay in wait, motionless until a bird wading through the water to collect nest-building material came close enough to the trap. Then the crocodile would lunge at the bird, often successfully obtaining a meal.
Back in America, Dinets and his team went to Louisiana to see if the same clever luring behavior could be observed in other species. The team spent a year observing American alligators at four sites in Louisiana. Two of the sites were near known seasonal bird nesting grounds, while the other two were not.
The researchers observed the behavior in the American alligators, with a pronounced occurrence of the luring tactic between March and May, which is the nest-building season for birds in the area.
“This study changes the way crocodiles have historically been viewed,” Dinets said. “They are typically seen as lethargic, stupid and boring but now they are known to exhibit flexible multimodal signaling, advanced parental care and highly coordinated group hunting tactics.” Dinets also noted the luring behavior observed in American alligators and the mugger crocodiles in India could be indicative that the behavior is more widespread within the crocodilian order. And perhaps even provides insights into the behavioral patterns of reptiles on the edge of extinction. As well as offer more understanding and insight into how animals perceive and respond to magnetic fields or seasonal changes of light, temperature and environment.
“These discoveries are interesting not just because they show how easy it is to underestimate the intelligence of even relatively familiar animals, but also provides a surprising insight into previously unrecognized complexity of extinct reptile behavior,” Dinets said.
For example, the “Pineal Diamond” panel location on the head of the archaic Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizi — spot the “hidden Mickey” on the top of the head) acts as a photo and thermo-endocrine transducer — which functions to synchronize an internal hibernation cycle with cycles in the environment. When the pineal is not properly stimulated, in captivity, this species is in real danger of dehydration and death due to exhaustion factors.
VS: One wrap-up question: so what precisely is a SENSUAL ANIMIST?
RE: I knew that was coming. Though it sounds sexy, a Sensual Animist (SA) simply connects features of myofascial therapy with movement education exercises; the goal to ensconce nature, the body and lifestyle under a “spell of sensuousness” (as if one were but a wee four year old again — when the rain never felt cold when you played outside). While movement metaphors are cultivated in session, the overall goal of an SA is enhancement of perception for the body’s place in productive mentation — leading to harmonious mind-spirit-body interrelations. This differs in philosophy undergirding very aggressive physical engagement (Rolfing), all the way to fascial unwinding (very gentle), as well as movement to lessen unconscious destructive patterns (Alexander Technique and the Feldenkrais Method for instance).
About the Interviewer: “Mrs. Snyder gained prominence and credibility following her multi-part series that exposed the inhumane conditions at the South Florida State Mental Hospital. As a community activist, Mrs. Snyder spearheaded the establishment of the South County Neighborhood Center in Boca Raton which, in time, grew into the Florence Fuller Day Care Center and the Mae Volen Senior Center. Subsequent to her career as a reporter, Mrs. Snyder embarked on a new endeavor as private investigator.” http://www.library.fau.edu/ depts/spc/spc/snyder.htm
Virginia (93 yo, stroke recovery client) writes in early 2014 to Randy Eady: “Thought I would give you some good news while you are gone. Remember when you started treating me as my therapist? I was recovering from a stroke May 2010, had 24-hour CNA/aides, slurred speech, gained 50lbs, couldn’t walk without assistance, etc. You were determined to help me walk normally again. Well, for the last 6 weeks I have not used my cane! Breakfast with friends, doctors’ visits, Feminist Foundation meetings. No cane. And of course I drove to all of them!”
Randy Eady, M.Ed, (Ph.D c) Therapist and former Professor and Course Chair @ the USAF Academy from 1992-1997 was awarded the Academy’s “Outstanding Behavioral Science Instructor Award” for innovative/creative treatment with behavioral approaches to trauma recovery. He has seven years experience within the DoD as a trauma therapist and counselor for combat veterans with PTSD, movement and physical mobility challenge conditions (such as amputee phantom pain phenomena and Parkinson’s Disease).
He is a balance and movement disorder rehabilitation specialist, and is completing his PhD in Integral Health from the California Institute for Human Science. During his professorial tenure @ the Air Force Academy he started the Quest Ed. Foundation in Colorado to foster mentor education and multi-cultural, diverse-abilities contact.
Specialties of this therapeutic approach include a Back2Life™ focus on considerations relating to movement security and focus on educating client/participants and eliminating the risk of injury – while also improving movement efficiency, circulation and smooth joint flow.
Recent presentations of aspects of these programs were delivered at the American College of Healthcare Sciences, Center for Health Design, Env. for Aging Conferences in San Diego, CA and Orlando, FL and the numerous Family Cafe and Disability Conferences in Orlando, FL.