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Native healing in Frisco

KIMBERLY NICOLETTI

FRISCO – The ultimate medicine is finding and expressing your life purpose.Kenneth Cohen has studied Native American and Asian healing traditions since he was a teenager, and that’s the essence of what he has learned.”One of the causes of disease is when people don’t prioritize expressing or discovering their life purpose or gifts,” Cohen said. “We tend to ignore those gifts because we have low self-worth or poor role models, with our parents not living their dreams. When (life purpose) is locked up, it becomes like stagnant water, whereas if we express it, we’ll optimize health.”He explains illness using an example of why some people catch a flu virus while others with the same exposure do not.”You have to ask what in the host creates a suitable ground for the pathogen to develop,” he said. “Resistance comes from physiology, psychology and spirituality. You have to have balance.”He refers to Native medicine as the original holistic healing system. In his new book, “Honoring the Medicine: The Essential Guide to Native American Healing,” he outlines the principle values and practices of the Native tradition.”I wanted to offer an overview of the Native American healing tradition as understood by a practitioner and scholar and help Native Americans and colleagues to have a new way of looking at their own tradition. I wanted to foster a dialogue between Native American healing, Western medicine, psychology and religion and give people better tools to take care of themselves. My book is not a how-to book because that’s offensive to Native people. You learn principles through the book.”Cohen, who is Russian and Jewish by birth, shows respect for Native American culture by offering methods of healing without teaching specific rituals. He believes popular culture has an imbalance between technology and wisdom – such as using the Internet for criminal networking or pornography – and he didn’t want to contribute to the problem of unwise information use by giving specific information without making sure the reader had the wisdom, or readiness, to use it.”My primary focus is what are the principles that make a person a whole and happy human being,” he said.Cohen started studying qigong, an Asian method of influencing chi, or life energy, as a teenager and has written “The Way of Qigong.” In his 20s, he added a lifelong practice of Native healing to his Asian knowledge when he met a Cherokee man named Keetoowah, whom he became close friends and studied with for 10 years.”As soon as we met, it was like two old friends resuming some ancient communication,” he said.By 1984, he used what he had learned to help a Cree woman with cancer leave an intensive care unit and live pain free for an additional six months when doctors predicted she would die in a week, he said.In 1987, Andy Naytowhow, a Cree man, adopted Cohen, legally making him a part of his family. Since then he has trained in other Native healing traditions and received permission from elders to share his teachings.He teaches Native medicine throughout the nation and in Canada at universities and conferences, including world-renowned integrative medicine practitioner Dr. Andrew Weil’s medical program. He also teaches tai chi and Chinese classic arts at the Academy of Chinese Martial and Cultural Arts in Boulder. He lives near Nederland.”As with any field, as you get involved you discover there’s more you need to learn,” he said. “There’s no final point because Native American healing is intertwined with spirituality.”Cohen suggests people who feel an affinity with Native traditions learn more by attending the Denver Indian Art Market in February, attend old-style, outdoor pow wows and read a national Native American newspaper, News from Indian Country.”If you’re going to meet a healer, you’re going to meet him or her because it’s the appropriate time,” he said. “Don’t go to a reservation looking for them. The elders say, ‘We don’t choose the medicine; it chooses us.'”Cohen talks for free at 6:30 p.m. today at Winds of Change Books & Gifts in Frisco. For more information about Cohen’s classes, call him at (303) 258-0971.Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.


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