“What makes a good healer or therapist?” It’s a question most of us have probably pondered at some time. And this inspirational book goes a long way to answering it for us.
For Leisa Millar and James Ketub Golding, their motivation in compiling The Way of the Natural Therapist was both philosophical and practical. They had both just left professional careers and the safety net of financial security for the work that spoke to their hearts. Now it was time to find out what was really involved in becoming a natural therapist - and one who was there for the long haul.
In a stroke of inspiration, they understood from the beginning that personal stories carry most passion and so this small volume contains 22 personal accounts from therapists in all branches of the holistic industry. They follow a structure, from a dawning awareness of working with the power of the universe, through the gradual opening up of a bud until it reaches full flower in Lorna Patten’s final story of dramatic highs and lows, “Opening Up”.
Along the way we meet some familiar names - NOVA’s own Chandrika Gibson, still continuing her journey into wisdom as a holistic naturopath and yoga teacher, and Jost Sauer, another national writer whose energy and drive for authenticity have taken him into many areas but who now finds himself returning to the teachings of Yogananda and the Dalai Lama. He says in a way that paraphrases many of the other contributors, “They are a constant reminder that we are all here on Earth to be of service to others regardless of what profession we are in.”
The best of these therapists, I feel, never lose sight of this awareness. It may wax and wane, generally in direct relationship to their financial situation, but those truly on the path - the Way - convey this sense of service and humility.
One whose modesty and balance speak to me is massage therapist Allan Mourad who describes himself after 26 years of practice as, “still stooped over a massage table, still fascinated and absorbed by the people I meet and treat, and constantly blown away with the body’s enthusiasm to heal itself.” His advice on avoiding burnout, something that’s stood him well, is to establish clear boundaries to keep energy in reserve at the end of each day, and to never lose your sense of humour. As he dryly suggests, “People are not usually seeing you because they feel great and on top of the world.”
A strong sense of self belief emerges as a clear common factor in the success of these practitioners, most of whom have been plying their trade for a decade or more. The antithesis of shallow ego, it is a firmly and deeply held respect for themselves which then flows on to a respect for others. I’m struck, too, by the depth of learning of many of the featured therapists, and in fact this was a factor in their selection to appear in the book. Many have travelled widely, often to the East to seek the most authentic traditions of India, Japan, China and elsewhere, and have completed multiple qualifications that show both the depth of their passion for following the Way and the breadth of knowledge available in today’s holistic industry in Australia.
Multi disciplined Paul Movsessian is a case in point with knowledge encompassing Ayurveda, macrobiotics, shiatsu, Bach flowers, Japanese sotai and other therapies, always seeking “to understand the strengths and weaknesses of any system”. As a holistic magazine editor, I support his determination to encourage his clients to inform themselves rather than accept as gospel the latest media hype, often generated by the biomedical model.
The Way of the Natural Therapist is a quietly empowering book and we should all be thankful for such committed and impressive practitioners working in our midst. Proceeds from sales go to the Gawler Foundation.
Margaret Evans has a background in teaching, journalism and publishing. She is the editor of NOVA Holistic Journal.