Most of us measure our health inversely - by how infrequently we have to see a doctor. If we never have to go to the doctor, we must be super-healthy. But, if our only contact with the healthcare system is when something is wrong with us, can we really call that healthcare? Isn’t it really ill-health care?
That’s the perspective that has led a recent generation of practitioners in the healthcare industry to focus on what they call “wellness.” At its most basic, wellness is an awareness of the power of prevention. It’s an attempt to shift healthcare from doctor-and-drug-driven repair, to self-motivated care.
“Self-motivated” doesn’t mean going it alone. It means seeking out care from professionals who are not necessarily MD’s but who provide you with methods and techniques to stay healthy. That might include Yoga, meditation, massage, nutrition advice, mental health therapy, and what’s called Integrative Medicine, which incorporates both Western and Eastern medical philosophies.
If you were going to seek out these professionals yourself, first you’d have to know a lot about wellness to even know who you’re looking for. Then you’d have to drive all over town, or possibly all over the state, or even the country, to find skilled people working in these fields. Which is why a local wellness center has brought these practitioners together and put them in offices under one roof, on Prytania Street in the Lower Garden District - in the space that used to be the Norwegian Seamen’s Church.
This integrative medicine clinic is called Spyre and its co-founder is Diana Fisher.
Even if you take amazingly great care of yourself, you’re not going to be able to prevent yourself from ever getting sick. Unfortunately, even people in the greatest physical and mental shape can find themselves with a cancer diagnosis. But if that happens, you don’t have to rely solely on drug-driven medicine to cope with, and help cure yourself, of cancer.
In the Ochsner Health System there’s a specialist cancer division situated in a building on Jefferson Highway, called The Gayle & Tom Benson Cancer Center. Within that specialized cancer center patients have an opportunity to complement their traditional healthcare with Therapeutic Yoga and Meditation.
Therapeutic Yoga is not the same as the yoga you do to stay in shape. And in this case, meditation is focused on training yourself to concentrate your mental strength to help cancer cure and recovery.
The founder and Coordinator of Therapeutic Yoga and Meditation at the Gayle & Tom Benson Cancer Center is Tamarin Hennebury.
Despite our best intentions - like new years resolutions to go to the gym, convincing ourselves that buying new running shoes will make us start running, or swearing we’re going to cut out carbs - it’s hard to make and maintain big lifestyle changes.
What would be more effective is implementing smaller, simpler changes. So that, instead of thinking of efforts to stay healthy as bursts of unpleasant hardship shoe-horned into a foundationally unhealthy lifestyle, wellness becomes a series of commonplace pleasures that integrate into our everyday lives.
You might think that’s easier said than done, but now that we have an integrative health facility like Spyre, it’s easier to actually achieve than it ever has been in New Orleans.
And although there’s very little more daunting in the world than getting a cancer diagnosis, having access to therapeutic yoga and meditation within the course of Western medicine makes the treatment more bearable and ultimately the cure more possible.