Saturday Polyface hosted a wellness summit to love on unorthodox health practitioners and affirm them in a culture that seems intent on marginalizing, demonizing, and even criminalizing them.  We had 30-40 professional health practitioners, primarily from the eastern U.S. but a couple from California.

             They were herbologists, nutritional therapists, yoga and massage practitioners, crystal therapy, physical therapists--goodness, I don't even know what everyone called what they did.  But it was incredibly gratifying to get all those people in one place, have them meet each other, encourage each other, inspire each other.  It's a lonely world out there on the edges of orthodoxy.

             In a time of publicity regarding tolerance, we are becoming far more intolerant.  Just try questioning orthodox infant immunizations.  Just try being a pregnant woman telling your family and friends you're drinking raw milk.  Just try telling your diabetic friends that they can cure it with diet and lifestyle and don't need any drugs.

             Most of these professionals who came had their own crisis stories that drove them away from orthodoxy.  I could write a book, a compilation of all these stories that brought people to a distrust of the fraternal medical community.

             The highlight of the day, for me at least, was sitting mesmerized for 2.5 hours at the feet of Dr. Zach Bush.  I had never met him in person until Saturday.  Doing as many presentations and speaking gigs as I do, I get to listen to a lot of presenters.  For a person to mesmerize me on the edge of my seat even for 30 minutes takes some doing.  Zach did it for more than 2 hours.   Nobody stirred; nobody moved. 

             Perhaps the most interesting part of his presentation to me was his recurring theme about loneliness.  That really struck me because we here at Polyface convened this whole shindig to surround these practitioners with affirmation, realizing that unorthodoxy by definition is a lonely place.  But the fact is as a culture we've isolated ourselves in profound ways.

             We've hidden handshakes behind legal contracts; we've exchanged personal interchanges for electronic interchanges; we've traded physical community with virtual community; we've lawned over our gardens and outsourced food production to nameless, faceless corporate entities.  The list could go on and on, but you get the drift. 

             I've always said that a central part of our farm is re-building community. From May through September, 25 of us work here and our chef prepares evening communal meals that we enjoy together Monday-Friday.  That's a real support group.  As I age, I'm incredibly grateful to be surrounded by all this youthful energy.  To leverage elder wisdom on youthful energy is the elixer of the ages.

             So Zach is big on the power of a hug.  Not a short professional hug, but a lingering hug, like more than 10 seconds.  It's one of the most healing things we can do.  They don't cost anything but empathy and time.

             Have you hugged someone today?