Last weekend a friend nominated me on Facebook for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. It was bad timing, because I had an important commitment on Sunday. It’s also been really cold in Upstate New York, and the thought of taking off my sweater to dump ice water on my head doesn’t make me feel charitable.
In addition, I’m bothered by the way that the ALS Association turned a fun dare among pro athletes and celebrities into a guilt-trip fundraiser for more research by Big-Pharma, which continues to ignore possibility of environmental or food-based causes for diseases and fails to address alternative treatments. I cannot bring myself to donate the little extra money I have to a charity that does not align with my values.
That being said, I saw the effects of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, first-hand when it affected a yoga student. The vibrant, active woman I knew deteriorated quickly and passed away earlier this year. I didn’t get to see her after she was unable to keep up her yoga practice, but I got updates from her friends. After I learned about ALS, I believe her death was a blessing. (Here is a touching opinion piece by a sufferer which made me feel better about my reaction to the news of her passing.)
My heart and mind were conflicted, and I was reminded that I had been challenged each time I opened Facebook. I mulled it over last night during my Reiki self-practice. This morning I held the camera while my son dumped ice water on my daughter’s head so she could meet her challenge. (It was 46F outside.) I realized I needed to find a way to honor those who are afflicted with ALS, but I had to do it in a way that felt good to me.
I decided to reach out to my circle of alternative and integrative practitioners, yoga teachers, energy healers and health coaches with our own challenge. It’s easy, and all of the steps are optional. You can put that ice bucket down.
- Learn about ALS and its symptoms. (Anyone who is willing to dump an ice bucket on his head should at least do that.)
- Do something productive for those who are suffering with ALS. Keep it simple. Dedicate the energy of a yoga practice or meditation. Volunteer to teach yoga or meditation, or offer energy healing, at a local hospital. Look into alternative or nutritional therapies for ALS and share what you find to help get information to those who need it. I am creating a crystal grid to send Reiki to anyone afflicted or caring for someone with ALS who would like to receive it. I’ll post a picture of the grid as soon as it is done. You are welcome to add your energy to it.
- Make a donation, even a very small one, to a charity that feels right to you. I spent a few hours today researching and decided to support Voice for HOPE (Healers of Planet Earth), a group advocating to make complementary, alternative and integrative health initiatives an explicit part of our national health policy. (You can join for free – donations are optional.) Here are some of the others I considered:
- Integrative Medicine at Beth Israel and the Center for Health and Healing because they provide Acupuncture, Yoga Therapy, Energy Therapies (Healing Touch and Reiki), and a Holistic Preparing for Surgery Program at Mount Sinai/Beth Israel Hospitals.
- Center for Food Safety for bringing awareness to the dangers of chemicals in our food supply.
- Foundation for Alternative and Integrative Medicine for their research into effective, nontoxic, and low-cost alternative medical therapies.
- American Botanical Council for their research and advocacy of the responsible use of medicinal herbs.
- Spread the word. If you use social media to share what you’ve learned or done, please tag your post #icebucketalternative.