Chiropractor Julie Newman relies on her background in social work when doing bodywork. “I start where the client is. I begin by just witnessing.”
Newman sensed that the community of her fellow alternative healers was contributing to a culture of peace through how they live and practice. Newman and I convened a sampling of local body workers at the Ashland Culture of Peace (ACPC) office to explore how peace-based clinical settings heal people and advance a more harmonious culture.
“A culture of peace is a foundation for health and for a healthy society, especially now with global warming,” says Chiropractor John Kalb. With a background in psychology, Kalb ponders how peaceful will be our interactions as resources wane. “It takes a lot of work to deal with anger, grief, and jealousy.”
“It strikes me that there’s a dualistic nature of the universe,” observes Chris Chlebowski, homeopath, chiropractor, and naturopath; “it’s all opposites. If we want to believe in a world or town where there’s peace and harmony, we have to look at the shadow work, the dark side, and explore why people are leading with anger or hate. Anger leads from fear. So, what are people so afraid of?”
Massage therapist Daniel Salisbury reminds us how underlying our wanting to be a peaceful person in (an unpeaceful) world is our holding a place for internal peace. In Salisbury’s words, “It’s the internal work.” Chlebowski agrees, “We need to get to root causes.”
Internal work for Kalb has meant five decades of meditation, personal growth, and spiritual exploration. “If I feel triggered, I examine my perspective. I care how my actions affect others.”
“When someone’s not acting peacefully,” suggests Chlebowski, “instead of being reactionary, I stop and ask, ‘Where’s that coming from?’”
Kalb referenced learning from Non-Violence Communication Instructor Marshall Rosenberg to recognize others’ anger and become reflective and curious. “You seem upset by this. What’s going on for you?”
Newman addressed the presence of inner and outer peace in clinical practice and clinician-patient relationships. “So much of the care depends upon my energy, my being fully present, and the resources I bring.” Newman sets the stage for how much energy she will have throughout the day and has learned the value of witnessing to her own light and shadow sides.
Non-violence is a basic part of the peacefulness that Salisbury incorporates into his massage work, guiding him to not force his ideas on his clients, instead to listen to their bodies. Self-inquiry arises from such respect. “How am I going to touch them? What does their body not want to do?”
“People come to massage wanting peace,” continues Salisbury, “different than what they can get on their own in terms of relaxation.” Salisbury draws upon his training in Hakomi body-inclusive psychotherapy. “(Personal) emotional work is important (in order) to become present for others and be peaceful in my attitude. We can influence those whom we interact with directly.”
Chlebowski beamed as he described his absolute passion for serving people who have spent the past 20 or 30 years suffering. Then he spoke of spiritual evolution. “We can only evolve as long as everyone comes along. We have to lift up those at the bottom. So, every day at work I just give as much health as I can.”
Chlebowski contrasted his view of healing with the 1950s belief that the doctor knew everything. “We don’t fix anything; we just give a (medicinal) stimulus.”
“In chiropractic, we say we remove the block,” added Kalb. “More and more people are looking to take responsibility for their own health. They are wanting to know how to better take care of themselves.”
Along with greater patient accountability and practitioner respect — values of a culture of peace — these alternative healers value inclusivity and safety. “I envision opening a nonprofit, buy-one, give-one practice (whereby) their payment would go for their care and for someone who can’t afford it,” offered Newman, who described how in our region a lot of these recipients would be ethnic minorities, a population she wishes to serve.
“I have the skills,” says Salisbury, “to help me create a safe space. People are chewing on whatever they’re chewing on. I use what I know to validate them where they are.”
— Bob Morse is an ambassador of the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission. Email comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. The ACPC website is www.ashlandcpc.org; like the commission on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AshlandCultureofPeaceCommission; follow twitter.com/AshlandPeace on Twitter. All are welcome to join the ACPC’s Talking Circle at 11 a.m. each Tuesday and Community Meeting at 4 p.m. each Wednesday, both at the ACPC office, 33 First St., Suite 1, diagonally across Lithia Way from the Ashland Post Office.