CAM Practitioner Interview – Katrina Johnson (Meditation)

Today’s post was requested by a reader of Kitchen Cupboard Underground, who wanted to know more about meditation; how it can benefit you and how it’s done.  The KCU was fortunate to interview an expert in the field, (CAM) practitioner Katrina Johnson of the Ayurvedic Health Center & Wellness Shop. You might remember Katrina from the Ayurveda interview back in 2015.  The goal is to provide you, as a reader, the opportunity to learn about alternative forms of medicine that are available to you in your journey of wellness. 

What is meditation?
Meditation is a strategy of disconnecting from the outer world for a short period of time. We disconnect the mind from the five senses (sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing), which bring the outer world to us. It is deeply restorative to the mind, the brain, and the nervous system to take a break from receiving that constant stream of sensory input.

What kind of training or background is necessary for this type of profession?
Not much training is needed, which is the good news. We can all meditate, but I recommend working with a teacher in the beginning to learn tidbits, techniques and structures that will work for you. Most cultures have a tradition of meditation; it’s a part of their daily life and has served them well. There are many different techniques that can be learned to enter the meditative state.

What benefits can be expected from this therapy?
Meditation results in a lowered heart rate, a lowered breathing rate, reduced experiences of: stress, anxiety, fear, being overwhelmed, and depression. Through meditation you will gain experiences of: calm, centeredness, stability, equanimity, and of being better able to handle what life brings.

What are the risks, if any, associated with this therapy?
There are no risks. You’ll probably want to do more meditation.

How long would an individual need to undergo treatment, or how many office visits would they need? 
It’s not a mater number of office visits; it’s what the individual is willing to implement in their life. It’s a low-key but daily practice. Regular meditation yields great cumulative benefit. With meditation it’s less important how long you spend doing it in one sitting than it how regularly you meditate; even 5 minutes, done consistently, will yield benefit. Of course, more is better, but work up to it. Make this an easy practice to integrate into your life. 

What are the most common concerns that people come to you for in your practice?
People are most interested in learning a technique for meditation that is easy to understand and easy to implement. Many people are not ready to sit in stillness for periods of time—either because the body is uncomfortable or because the mind is too distracted. We are lucky in that there are many ways to meditate, so we can find a technique that will work for you. People can benefit from learning a breathing exercise or a mantra to go with meditation 

Do you use CAM therapies exclusive of or along with conventional medicine?
I am an alternative health care practitioner, so all of the therapies that I implement are complementary and alternative. Breathing exercises, chanting, and physical exercise are all effective companions for meditation. 

How is your practice similar to conventional medicine?
I address my client’s health and wellness concerns and offer them recommendations for implementing manageable and real change that will improve their health and wellness. I have a background in western medicine and understand that language and structure, so I am able to tailor my recommendations within a recognizable Western medical/health framework. 

How is your practice different from conventional medicine?
My practice is pretty different from what you encounter in most Western medical offices. I am able to take more time with my clients than we typically see today in Western medicine. In Ayurveda there is an understanding of working with the rhythms of nature as expressed through the five elements. We work with imbalances of these elements rather than symptoms of disease, as Western medicine does. We avoid looking at disease as if something is mechanically wrong and needs to be fixed or coerced. Instead, we look at the health and function of the digestive system and find ways to work with the body to restore balance, rather than engaging in a struggle for power. Many therapies that relate to the five elements that can be used as tools for healing such as:

  • The ether element relates to hearing – we can use music
  • The air element relates to touch – we can use massage
  • The fire element relates to sight – we can use color therapy
  • The water element relates to taste – we can use digestive herbs and spices
  • The earth element relates to smell – we can use aromatherapy

What are the barriers you see existing between conventional and complementary medicine?
In my opinion and experience, the barrier on anyone’s part between conventional and complementary health practices is a lack of willingness to consider the other. The current medical system is not set up to accept anything outside of its scope—although we see that beginning to change with Functional Medicine, which is wonderful. For instance, herbalism is not given a scope of practice in the Western medical field despite a long and ancient lineage of proven efficacy and despite acceptance in other modern Western nations (most notably England and Germany). Plants are a form of medicine. 

How do you think alternative and conventional practitioners can work together better?
I think that any open and communicative approach will produce positive result. All forms of medicine are appropriate for some of the people, some of the time. All forms of medicine have efficacy as well as having specific areas where they are a better fit than other forms. 

What is your vision of the optimal health care system?
I think that a universal type of health care is the way of the future: where Chinese medicine, acupuncture, Naturopathic, massage, yoga, movement work, chiropractic, herbalism, and Ayurvedic medicine are all accessible and are covered along with Western medicine. We are very lucky to have the development of Western medicine’s diagnostic tools and surgical advances, and other modalities have their complementary strengths. Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, for instance, are wonderful at focusing on prevention of imbalance or disease.

Any words of advice for my blog readers?
In these days of intense change, transition and stress, please practice radical self care. It’s not always easy to do so with family and work responsibilities, but please do what you can. This is so important. Rest, play, relax, eat nutritious wholesome foods, and hydrate. Love your loved ones and nurture your relationships. 

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If you are interested in meeting Katrina for an appointment, you can reach her via her website:
Phone: 360-734-2396

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