Chrystelle is a student at the University of Ottawa who chose to volunteer her time and energy in the community as a way of gaining a course credit. This is the paper she wrote as part of the process…
During the last year or so, my career goals have changed profoundly. I started my bachelor three years ago, thinking I would eventually become a Veterinarian. Now I want to work for a non-profit organization for the conservation of animals and the environment. I want to fight daily towards a better, healthier planet. I have a goal, I want to make a difference, and this is because of experiences like these…
For my Conservation Biology class at the University of Ottawa I decided to take the option of completing 30 hours of volunteer work with the Carp Ridge EcoWellness Centre. I chose this placement because the title was very intriguing to me: ‘‘Research Volunteer: Creating an organic healing garden’’.
I have been a vegetarian for almost three years now. The switch was not easy, but it was important to me to stop supporting meat industries. While switching to a more plant-based diet I experienced many different herbs and learned that they have a variety of health benefits and can be used for healing purposes. When I saw the title of the placement, I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn and familiarize myself with these herbs while helping the organization build their garden.
The Carp Ridge EcoWellness Centre has a Natural Health Clinic, a Forest Retreat Bed and Breakfast and offers a variety of programs for all ages. Dr. Katherine Willow N.D. was my placement supervisor; she is kind, welcoming and very knowledgeable. She is a fourth-generation naturopathic doctor with over three decades of experience.
The first day I met Katherine I attended the Introduction to New German Medicine talk in her home. When the talk was over, Katherine invited the others and me to stay over for lunch. There I was… sitting at a table with four strangers, and I felt surprisingly comfortable. Katherine has this warm, calm energy that is inviting. You cannot help but feel safe in her home.
For my volunteer hours, my tasks at the Center changed—I was not to work on the healing garden anymore as it was the middle of winter. Instead, Katherine gave me a book titled ‘‘The Field’’ and asked if I would read the book and write a short paper. The paper was to focus on the book’s meaning and its connection with the environment. Katherine had the intent of posting my paper on her website. She also agreed to have me attend some of her sessions/talks offered in the weeks to come. I attended three sessions, took notes and asked questions. When at the facility, I did some reading and took notes for my paper. I ate lunch with Katherine and talked about the sessions, the book and much more.
I also had the opportunity to work with two other volunteers from France that are in Canada for two years. We worked outside cutting small trees, using the branches to build growing boxes and chairs for the garden. Most of my hours were spent studying at the Bed and Breakfast facility attached to her home. I later did a lot of reading from home when the government asked the public to not to travel unless necessary.
The first session I attended was the German New Medicine (GNM) talk, as previously mentioned. GNM teaches how the body responds to sudden trauma, causing lesions in the brain (target rings) at specific areas depending on the cause of the trauma and how it is perceived by the individual. The lesion location will affect the organ or the biological area of the body that is controlled by this part of the brain, causing cancers and other diseases. I learned that the key to GNM is to understand that this is a natural process and how to support the body healing itself. Spiritual and emotional healing can lead to physical healing.
To practice GNM is to connect with natural laws and be fully committed to healing without chemicals and prescriptions, trusting in the body’s biological functions. In my opinion, if people would engage in this practice, they would better understand that we are connected to our environment as biological beings and treat ourselves as such. People might have more respect for the environment, seeing it as part of who we are and care for the environment in a whole new way.
The second session I attended was a talk on ‘‘Reducing Joint Pain & Inflammation Naturally’’. Dr. Katherine talked about the causes of joint pain and inflammation, how to asses where the problem is coming from (variety of tests that can be done) and solutions (how it can be controlled). Causes vary from stresses (GNM aspect), diet, toxins, trauma or even daily routines (insufficient exercise for example).
In general, to be healthy and to have a healthy state of mind, we need to make changes to our way of life. In our modern culture, everything is made to be easy and fast, from processed foods to automobiles, to plastic containers. That is not necessarily good for us. We need to slow down, eat real food (vegetables, herbs, less meat), walk more, stop the use of toxic products (cleaning, personal, pesticides…etc.), use less medication and start preventing illness. To engage in this lifestyle is to take care of the environment, it goes hand in hand. I think if people would move towards this type of lifestyle, they would become healthier, they would see the environment’s value and would work towards its conservation.
The third session I attended was the ‘‘The Naturopathic Healing Group’’ at the Health Clinic. They offer sessions like these for people who cannot afford regular one-on-one sessions with a Naturopathic Doctor. Before the sessions, we took a urine and saliva test so that Dr. Katherine can assess our results.
At the beginning of the session Katherine asked everyone how they were doing personally and what they would like to discuss. Then Katherine explained everyone’s results and gave advice based on natural medicine. During the session we talked about the virus and how to keep a good state of mind during stressful periods like these.
Katherine then talked about detox and we each made a personal detox goal for spring. I learned that detoxification is a very healthy way to cleanse your body when it is done properly and progressively. We finished the session with meditation.
After the session, Katherine gave me a blood type test. Katherine had previously mentioned that she follows and suggests Blood Type Diets when it’s appropriate. The Blood Type Diet pinpoints foods that are beneficial, neutral or not recommended for our type. It is suggested that people use them in a gentle way, avoiding rigid rules! Again, if people would understand the biological nature of our body, they could follow diets like these and lower their chances of irritation, inflammation and intolerances.
Sessions like these, of open discussions, are very beneficial. Everyone seemed to feel comfortable; there was good energy, support and understanding. Community and support are important. We are a social species; we cannot live in a world of isolation and in constant battle. We will only continue to destroy ourselves and our planet if we don’t connect.
I also learned a lot by reading the book Katherine gave me. The book, titled ‘‘The Field’’, gave me a whole new perspective on life. I learned that we live in this sea of energy, in a field, where all is connected, and we are connected to all. We can influence our environment with our intentions. We have the capacity to make the world a better place by changing our perspectives and how we interact with people.
By being more positive we automatically have a clearer state of mind, which leads to a healthier body and lifestyle. A positive individual will be more caring, for others, for the environment and for the planet. Being more positive will also influence others to move toward a similar state of mind and energy level. The more we resonate with higher qualities such as love, patience and understanding, the more we create a safe, healthy life for all. We will tend to connect with nature and understand its value.
I chose this placement initially thinking I would learn about herbs. I finished by learning so much more. I am very grateful to have chosen to complete my 30 hours of volunteer work with the Carp Ridge EcoWellness Centre. Participating in the sessions, reading the book and most of all, talking with Dr. katherine, opened a new perspective on life.
It turns out that taking care of the environment is not so much ‘‘physical actions’’ like recycling and using less plastic, but more an internal attitude and way of life. Caring for the environment comes naturally to someone who is positive, happy and healthy, and who connects to nature as our source rather than seeing it only as repository for our needs.
I think the biggest impact we can make for conservation is to change our lifestyle. As long as we live as solitary individuals working for personal goals and competing with each other, we will never find balance. We consume too much, we disrespect animals by farming them and using them in laboratories, we destroy ecosystems and we pollute. That needs to change, starting with our state of mind, which can then lead us to a new perspective on what is a healthy lifestyle.
My placement at the EcoWellness Centre has been an impactful experience. In the past year or so I have decided to work for a non-profit organization when I finish my bachelor’s degree. My time at the EcoWellness Centre confirmed this profoundly. I know that it is the right path for me. I aspire to project as much positivity as I can. I want to show people how good it feels to be connected to the environment. On a personal level, I have already undergone some changes in my diet and my daily routines. I plan to teach others around me how to undertake these changes and how beneficial they are. I want to share what I’ve learned, and I want to learn some more. I plan on reading more books on similar subjects to find a deeper connection and learn to ground myself by meditating.
At the EcoWellness Centre, they use nature to feed, to heal and to connect. They have the secret to a happy, healthy life. The best advice I can give anyone fighting this climate crisis is to engage people in a positive way, showing them that there is an alternate healthy lifestyle that permits us to live in harmony with the environment and encourage people to live this way: support home or community gardening, meditate, be active, learn about the benefits of herbs and what you can grow from home, eat less and for your body, participate in community activities, teach others and always try to be positive!