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The Circle of Life

Laura Hoge, RYT, CMT is the owner of Peaceful Edge Yoga, LLC offering private yoga
instruction, western and Thai massage to the Central/Northern NJ area since 2003. She
currently teaches Thai massage within the Tao Mountain Network. Prior to her current
profession, Laura worked as a New Jersey State Licensed Funeral Director and spent
years helping clients process grief and grief related complications. Her current practice
is based on a similar heart centered approach to well being. Aside from her study and
practice of Asian energy work, Laura has recently completed her second album and
devotes her time to musical composition, creative writing, spiritual research and
philosophical study. For information regarding Thai massage instruction or upcoming
concerts, please visit her websites: or

When compared to Western medicine, the healing system of Thailand may seem more
novel than scientific, more magical than methodical, and at times, irrelevant within
allopathic concepts of disease. Putting far less pressure on the physical body alone to
sustain health, Thai healers argue the importance of a balance between three essences to
promote well-being. More commonly referred to as the Circle of Life, these three
ingredients are made manifest in the physical body or gross anatomy, the citta, often
referred to as the inner self or the mind/heart, and energy that connects the former two
together. When one or more of these essences is out of balance, it is believed that a
person’s immune system will become suppressed, his/her psyche falter and ultimately,
diseases ensue.
Unlike western medicine, when the physical body becomes afflicted with disease, Thai
healers address the illness with dietary regulation and herbal supplementation. A stark
contrast to the pharmaceutical grade drugs and chemicals of allopathic medicine, the
former tradition seeks to heal the underlying condition from its source and, much like a
gardener extracting harmful weeds from his/her soil, pull at the problem from it’s root.
Treating symptoms of a disease as opposed to the cause itself is thought contrary to a
patient’s well-being as it ultimately leads to further imbalances in one or both of the
remaining essences of the patient. (If you don’t believe this, ask anybody going through
chemotherapy how they’ve been sleeping…side effects of such strong drugs often lead to
depression, anxiety, nervousness, etc.)
Thankfully, western doctors are slowly becoming more aware of the harmful effects of an
imbalanced psyche. Still, psychiatrists and psychopharmacologists insist on arming their
patients with Prozac, Xanex, Ritalin, etc. to placate anxiety, mood disorders, and even
situational depressions. Cocktails of pills are prescribed in an attempt to bring the brain
back to equilibrium when, in reality, there is little information as to what long term effects these medications may have on the physical body and/or mind over time. In Thailand, the approach is entirely different. Traditional medicine used to heal the “inner self” revolves around meditation, Buddhist or shamanic prayer and ritual, ceremonial healing rites, etc. Though largely unheard of in western medicine, parallels can be made to the religious traditions found here. (i.e. Christian “laying on of hands” or “anointing of the sick”) With the intention of a miraculous cure, and despite Western debate, Buddhist and/or shamanic healing rituals are widely accepted throughout Thai culture. These rites and traditions, in addition to dietary and herbal regimentation, have faithfully treated imbalances of the inner self for centuries. Lastly, when one’s energy appears compromised, Thai yoga massage is introduced. This portion of the healing process seeks to protect the flow of energy believed to link body and citta. Disease is thought to reside in a blockage of energy that becomes stagnant in one, some or along many of the 72,000 sen lines (aka. meridians, nadis, etc.) of the body. When manipulated with acupressure, joint mobilization and yogic stretching, one’s energy can once again move in a positive and healing direction, promoting balance to the mind/heart and body. If, however, the passageways remain blocked with negatively charged energy, disease will ultimately ensue. Looking back at my own experience with lymphoma, the Thai Circle of Life makes sense to me. I believe that had I been born in Thailand 50 years ago, my cancer could have been effectively prevented and/or treated through dietary restrictions, herbal supplementation, energetic massage and spiritual encouragement. Had I been born in New Jersey 50 years ago, I would have received high dose radiation and most likely, developed additional life threatening malignancies. All this being said, advancements in western medicine cannot be denied. It is my hope, however, that a “middle road” can be found where eastern and western medicine can hold conversations, speak of allopathic advancements and incorporate an eastern approach to healing a patient as a whole person…physically, energetically, spiritually and emotionally.


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