F. Body, Mind And Spirit
Few trends that emerged during the crest of the New Age movement have had a bigger impact than the ascendancy of
what is now known as “holistic health.” Prior to the mid-80s, those few practitioners who advocated an approach that integrated physical, mental and spiritual health were likely to be labeled as quacks. Acupuncture and homeopathy were mysterious treatments known only to connoisseurs of medical esoterica. It was even difficult to find whole grains, now considered by many conventional health practitioners as the staple of a healthy diet, even in so-called health food stores. In general, people were much more likely to accept uncritically the tenets and practices of conventional medicine.
That things have changed since those days is beyond dispute. The Harvard Medical School in a famous survey
published in 1993 estimated than 34 percent of all U.S. adults had received at least one unconventional therapy in 1990. A later survey conducted by the same researchers cited an additional 25 percent increase between 1990 and 1997. Foods formerly ghettoized as health foods are now on the shelves of most modern supermarkets. What formerly was alternative medicine has now been absorbed into what’s called “complementary medicine” — a blend of alternative and conventional approaches. The federally funded National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has a $100 million annual budget and most major medical schools have centers for integrative medicine.
To be sure, it is doubtful whether all of the approaches outlined here will ever became mainstream. It is difficult to
conceive of a modern society where fasting, whatever its efficacy, will become majority medicine. It is even more unimaginable to suppose that trance or spirit channels like J.Z. Knight will supplant the role reserved for psychotherapists or philosophers. But then again, it is dangerous to predict the future. As I write this, television psychic John Edward has one of the top rated shows on cable television.
This is the section introduction to Body, Mind and Spirit. For the titles of the articles in the section, visit the Table of Contents.