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Wellness: The Alternative to Illness

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Wellness is the Alternative to Illness

The Wellness Continuum

John Travis, M.D. first coined the term “Wellness” back in the seventies as he began to journey and speak around the world on this topic. I had the good fortune to attend a conference that he held at a hospital in Ft. Wayne, Indiana with my good friend and colleague Brian MacDonald, D.C. We got up one early morning in Davenport, IA, where we were attending the Palmer College of Chiropractic, took a quick run and then drove to Ft. Wayne, Indiana. The conference was small and attended mainly by physicians and nurses that worked at the hospital and some of the clergy, as this was a Catholic hospital.

Brian, my wife Daryl and I had been scouring the scope of our American healthcare system for a couple of years. We had attended the Whole Health Institute’s week long conference at the King View Conference Center in King, Ontario and that exposed us to some of the leaders in the Wellness revolution such as Dr. William Bahan, Dr. Joseph Holton and Dr. Larry Krantz and many others. This conference was a catalyst to our consideration of working together with health professionals of other disciplines.

We attended many other conferences in those years mainly for the purpose of considering various philosophies concerning healthcare and shaping our own attitudes and actions that we would all be taking into our future practices. Dr. Travis was one of this collection of inspiring physicians that we ran into on this sojourn along with Dr. Lewis Thomas, Dr. Bernie Siegel, Dr. Robert Mendelsohn, Dr. William Bahan and some non-physicians like Norman Cousins, Marilyn Ferguson, and Delores Krieger, RN.

Of course this was what the moment had to offer during the late seventies and early eighties and we’ve all grown and developed since that time, but these were good days for the three of us, as these were some of the most highly influential personalities that were available for us to know and grow by. Memorial Sloan-Kettering President Lewis Thomas, MD, once said: “The rare but spectacular phenomenon of spontaneous remission of cancer persists in the annals of medicine, totally inexplicable but real, a hypothetical straw to clutch in the search for cure. . . . No one doubts the validity of the observation.” This quote by Dr. Thomas has been totally thematic for us three amigos as we traveled through the next thirty-five years in our various roles as healthcare providers.

In the “Alternatives to Medicine” world we learned quickly how our respect for the body, mind and spirit of the patient and the provider was key to finding that conduit back to wellness. If there is going to be a healing or a remission of dis-ease there is also going to be a balancing of the body, mind and spirit. As Dr. Travis put it that day in Ft. Wayne, IN, “Sickness is a very I (Illness) experience and Wellness is a very we (Wellness) experience.

No Fear Necessary for Wellness

Simply being asymptomatic puts you somewhere in the middle of the Wellness Continuum, which is great for the business of medicine because there is never a consideration for assisting the patient up the continuum towards greater health substance and greater health potential. Concentrating too heavily on such a Wellness Continuum model would be bad for business.

An interesting thing happened during this Wellness conference with Dr. Travis. At some point during the last part of the conference we were discussing the newly presented Wellness Continuum concept and the topic of spiritual well-being came up. It was agreed by most that this was a necessary part of the pursuit of true wellness. I observed the clergy getting uneasy with the discussion and ultimately banding together and walking out of the conference. What was happening?  This was a defining moment for me because the obvious at hand, was they were uncomfortable with the discussion because they thought that they had ownership of the entire topic of spirituality, just like the medical providers thought that they had ownership of all healing art modalities. It was truly a moment of arrogance, but Dr. Travis, in his wonderful understanding expression managed to handle the situation like a real pro. He showed no anger, fear, threat, or any negative emotion, just a steadiness that is required when you are confronted by a beast. Show fear and you’re dead. Show strength and the beast backs off. It was an amazing moment and I was glad to be in the middle of it, because it gave me a firsthand look at the struggle that exists in the mainstream of the health care system in America.

Every day there are thousands of adverse reactions to medicines that only set the patient’s health back even further. The longer we stay on this inept path of symptom treatment the longer the truth of how we heal and stay healthy is ignored and denied and the sicker our society will become. Not a good outcome. Every day could be spent imparting strength, empowering individuality,  encouraging healthful lifestyles, embracing truth and love, extolling virtues of wellness, exorcising fear and uncertainty and imbuing knowledge and understanding. This is not too much to ask from our healing practitioners and if this was what we were really getting we would be living in quite a different world wouldn’t we? Let’s start to turn this around by realizing that we are all responsible for what we have. It is true that there has been power grabs and political favoritism and a “capitalism at any cost” mentality that has permeated our healthcare system for way too long. It is also true that we as a society and a collection of individuals have not done much to forbid such activity. So please understand that we have what we have because we collectively have in a certain way accepted the system. Changing a system or getting out from under such a system is much more difficult than creating or allowing it in the first place. Now, with truth on your side you can plainly see that the system is broken and needs a major overhaul.

Life is a Breeze

The least painful way of dealing is to accept the good, reject the bad and whenever possible stay away from our current system. Seek the alternatives whenever possible. Align yourself with others that are in agreement and learn, learn and learn some more. It is through knowledge and understanding that you will lose the fear and uncertainty of sickness that has been skillfully injected into you by the powerful forces of government, industry and media.

Instead of feeling alone and isolated climb up that Wellness Continuum that Dr. Travis introduced and get yourself into that We experience. Seek balance and fullness of your body, mind and spirit and healing begins. Being well and really living is a breeze and you were made to soar high on the winds of wellness. Peace.

Dr. John

3 Join the Conversation

  1. Brian MacDonald says
    Jun 18, 2016 at 5:10 PM

    Awesome essay Dr. John! I am humbled to be mentioned yet reading this was another reminder of how blessed I have been to connect with these sources of wisdom along the way. Dr Travis was/is truly an innovator. The embodiment of doctor as teacher. Much love and appreciation to you and Daryl. Looking forward to seeing you in the new year!

  2. Bob Pike says
    Jul 12, 2016 at 7:41 PM

    While searching for a picture of Dr. Bill Bahan I encountered your article John. I attended thst same Whole Health Institute seminar down the road at King View with Delores Krieger, RN. Thanks for your post! Drs. Houlton, Bahan and Krantz were early mentors and inspired trips to many seminars in the Cat Skills in New York, in my chiropractic trajectory as I resonated with the spirituality we all sensed lives at the core of health and healing. The "we" that became WHI was a bright beacon for many to use as a navigational aid in those days. To the best in us, Bob Pike, D.C.

    • says
      Jul 12, 2016 at 4:58 PM

      Hi Dr. Bob, Good to hear from you and thank you for the feedback. I am certain that I have some pics of Bill. I'll scan and sent as attachments one day Dr. John

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