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April, 2003

A monthly newsletter dedicated to serving the principles of
physical and spiritual health envisioned in the Baha'i Teachings.

Volume 6, Issue #8



-The Purple Hat
- Eating Disorders
- The Exchange
- Eating Disorder Resources
- Gentle Touch Produces Results
- A Reader is Requesting Assistance
- Question of the Month
- Website
- Purpose of the Newsletter




Author Unknown

A woman looks in the mirror:

Age 3 - Looks at herself and sees a Queen!

Age 8 - Looks at herself and sees herself as Cinderella/Sleeping Beauty/Cheerleader,

Age 14 - Looks at herself and if she is PMS'ing sees Fat/Pimples/Ugly, "Mom I can't go to school looking like this!"

Age 20 - Looks at herself and sees "too fat/thin, too short/tall, too straight/curly" - but decides she's going anyway.

Age 30 - Looks at herself and sees "too fat/thin, too short/tall, too straight/curly" - but decides she doesn't have time to fix it so she's going anyway.

Age 40 - Looks at herself and sees "too fat/too thin, too short/tall, too straight/curly" - but says, "at least, I'm clean" and goes anyway.

Age 50 - Looks at herself and sees "I am" and goes wherever she wants to go.

Age 60 - Looks at herself and reminds herself of all the people who can't even see themselves in the mirror anymore. Goes out and conquers the world.

Age 70 - Looks at herself and sees wisdom, laughter and ability, goes out and enjoy life.

Age 80 - Doesn't bother to look. Just puts on a purple hat and goes out to have fun with the world.




Prepared by Marilyn Carey who works as a Mental Health Clinician at Powell River Youth and Family Services, British Columbia, Canada. (Editor's note: Marilyn has been generous in sharing her expertise and skills in the field of children and youth in mental health. Her first article "Depression and Suicide Intervention for Children and Youth" appeared in Vol. 4, Issue # 8, April, 2001; her second article "Children and Stress" appeared in Vol. 5, Issue #3, November, 2001 as a supplementary issue; and her third article "Keeping Our Youth Close to our Hearts" appeared in Vol. 6, Issue #1, September 2002. These articles can be found at the website:


What do you think about when you hear the words, “eating disorder”? That it’s about food, perhaps women who are thin, that there are “good foods” and “bad foods”, that only those with no will power succumb? There are so many myths, half-truths and misconceptions surrounding this very complex and fast growing disorder, which is clouded with secrecy and shame, that it is difficult for people to seek help. When they do gather the courage to tell someone what is happening, they may be met with disgust, with trite advice, or the person may avoid or become overly solicitous - all guaranteed to increase the sufferer's feelings of isolation and shame. Most adults have experienced a time when they were dissatisfied with their weight - men and women. Most of us have also eaten too much or too little. This is not an eating disorder.

“An eating disorder exists when one’s attitude toward food and weight has gone awry - when one’s feelings about work, school, relationships, day-to-day activities, and one’s experience of emotional well-being are determined by what has or has not been eaten or by a number on the scale” (Seigal, Brisman and Weinshel, p. 9)

This is not new. Women at the turn of the century would have stays pulled so tightly, that their ribs became deformed. Remember the gentle women who fainted at the least exertion? Some think that this is because their corsets were so tight that they were suffering from a lack of oxygen. Some women were so despera te to lose weight that they would actually swallow a live tapeworm, which really creeps me out. Usually, eating disorders refers to anorexia nervosa, bulimia, or compulsive overeating - or combinations of all three.


Anorexia Nervosa is characterized by drastic weight loss from restricting food intake. This person is intensely afraid of getting fat, and often has a distorted body image, i.e. sees him or herself as fat even when they are grossly underweight. This results in starvation effects - loss of periods, fine hair growth on the face and body, thinning of hair on the head, bluish skin, feeling cold, dizziness, fainting, inability to concentrate, stunted growth, muscle wasting and irregular or slower heartbeats. Both men and women are afflicted, although it is more common in women.


Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by fluctuations in weight because of periods of uncontrollable binge eating followed by purging to prevent weight gain. This purging may include induced vomiting, laxatives, diuretics and excessive exercise. This may result in swollen glands in the cheeks, sore throat, damaged enamel on the teeth, broken blood vessels around the eyes or cheeks, fluid in the ears, damage to the lining of the bowels and electrolyte imbalance which interferes with the heart’s electrical impulses. Again, both genders have this disorder, but it is more common in women.


Compulsive overeating is characterized by uncontrollable eating followed by guilt, feelings of shame and weight gain. Usually food is used as a reward or to alleviate stress. This is also sometimes called non-compensatory bulimia. Gender is more equally represented in this disorder.



* Stop pretending nothing is wrong

* Be honest with who you are

* Cooperate with others who can help

* Talk with your Doctor. Have a complete medical check-up

* Seek professional help - a Mental Health Professional, a therapist. Join a

self-help group (overeaters anonymous for example)

* Educate yourself


* Examine your own weight prejudices

* Don’t focus on why

* Avoid commenting on his/her appearance

* Avoid power struggles around food and eating

* Get support for yourself

* Be patient

* Don’t let conversations focus on food and weight

* Don’t tempt with high calorie foods (or suggest low calorie foods)

* Educate yourself

Actually, it is important to start educating early, and this can be done by helping our children challenge the current view of bodies, sexuality and self-worth. Talk with your children about the way that magazines air brush bodies to make them appear perfect. Encourage them to view people of all shapes, sizes and degrees of attractiveness with love and acceptance. Do not encourage them to diet, or talk about your need to diet or make references to another’s need to diet. Do not talk about good and bad foods, or yourself or them as being good or bad for resisting or not resisting a food. Teach moderation, offer healthy foods, teach nutrition and enjoy mealtimes. Watch that those who are always striving for perfection understand that excellence means being able to be patient with learning and gracious with failure.

Books I would highly recommend for pre-teen girls are:

"When Girls Feel Fat" by Sandra Susan Friedman. It is an excellent book for parents to help their girls deal with the stresses of growing up. Remember that boys are also vulnerable. They usually want to “bulk up”, so are at risk for steroid use and obesity. Another excellent book is "Surviving an Eating Disorder" by Micelle Siegal, Judith Brisman and Margot Weinshel. I have their 1988 version, but I understand that there is an updated version which is excellent. Our beloved Universal House of Justice, Haifa, Israel who has its finger on the pulse of society, encouraged us to inform ourselves about social matters in its 1986 Ridvan message. This is one of the fastest growing social issues, and we al l need to become well informed.




The following responses are about dealing with Anorexia.

There has been some success with Anorexic girls through Holding Therapy which

appears to be re-parenting. There is an early and fundamental step in

emotional growth mis-fired in many of those who suffer from Anorexia -- it is my humble and individual opinion that it happens within the first 3 years of life, and has to do with Attachment and Identity.

There is much information out there on Attachment Parenting such as the internet (we have four step-children who suffer this disorder).

Some years ago there was a program on television -- either 20/20 or 60 Minutes -- about a woman who pioneered a very successful treatment program. Basically girls lived with her in groups and she appeared to re-parent them from babyhood...feeding them by hand, and so on. They were not allowed to 'care' for themselves for a period of time. The success was long-term.

- Anonymous


My daughter always had the kind of "too good to be true personality." She did everything right, was an excellent student, a perfectionist, a volunteer, and a mother's helper. She never had to be told to clean up, her room was impeccable and neat. She was organized in everything and loved beautiful things. She was well-liked and very popular. She did all kinds of things for the student council, taught children's classes, loved all sports and then all of a sudden out of the blue.. .BOOM...she didn't want to go out. She didn't want to see people and spent all her free time running and exercising alone, refused to eat meals at the table and started becoming aggressive.

She developed a form of anorexia which was chronic. She went from 105 lbs to 84 lbs and lost it all in two months. She begged me to buy her laxatives because she hadn't had a bowel movement in over a week. I pleaded with her and told her that she had not eaten enough to even have a bowel movement? Fortunately, she accepted to take vitamins and I gave her whatever I could get in vitamin form such as Calcium, etc in megadoses. This is not as good as real food, but it was better than nothing.

While she could still walk, we sent her away for treatment. She was threatened to be hospitalized if she didn't make an effort. Since she had no intention of being confined to a hospital bed, she made the effort. She had a wonderful doctor and had lots of people praying for her. During that time her period stopped, her hair was falling out, couldn't sleep or eat. She looked like someone out of a concentration camp. The doctor couldn't feel her pulse when she went in for her first check up. I did everything I could. I prayed for guidance, read everything I could about the condition in books and on the Website. I sent her to a psychologist who talked to her about fashion and charged me $50.00 an hour. I talked to my friend who is a nurse and whose husband is a doctor in disease control and they saw the signs immediately. They were the life savers. She said," Get her on a plane ASAP while she can still walk or else she will be medicated on a stretcher. My daughter didn't see the terrible weight she had lost and found she was looking good. When she saw us both breakdown in tears, she did try to make an effort to eat but by then she was in dire pain. Her stomach couldn't take it since it had shrunk so much.

When we told her what we planned, she was at first scared to death of being put in a hospital. Our friends that had experience with this condition told her," But what if your heart stops first?" Then she started to think and tried to eat a little at a time. She wanted to get better. She told me so and then I cried from relief. After we explained the treatment, she was ready to go. It was only then that she admitted she needed help and told people she was going away for treatment. With all the prayer and treatment, by July 2001 she was back on track. I think if we hadn't intervened as quickly as we did, I think she could have died.

In that ward they had about 80 young girls between the ages of 14 and 17 undergoing therapy for anorexia. She did art therapy which worked, and I think that the prayers also helped a great deal as well as the wonderful rapport she had with the team of experts that were looking after her. She was never hospitalized. She went once a week for her check ups. She gained a bit too quickly which caused a hormonal imbalance and she developed hairy arms. Her weight came back to normal but I think there are still some emotional scars and the brain shrinks too. When you lose that much weight, the brain loses brain tissue too which accounts for some of the strange behavioral patterns.

She is completely cured physically after her art therapy treatment. She gained back her weight. The psychological aspect takes a lot longer. She didn't talk to me for a whole year after that. But finally she changed boyfriends and it made a world of difference. She is back on good terms with us. She is working and studying in a field she loves. She eats healthy, exercises and keeps in touch with her friends and us.

She is very beautiful and has a world winning smile, but during that awful time she had no smile at all. -Anonymous



O Befriended Stranger!

The candle of thine heart is lighted by the hand of My power, quench it not with the contrary winds of self and passion. The healer of all thine ills is remembrance of Me, forget it not. Make My love thy treasure and cherish it even as thy very sight and life. (Baha'u'llah, The Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah, Persian no. 32)

Verily the most necessary thing is contentment under all circumstances; by this one is preserved from morbid conditions and from lassitude. Yield not to grief and sorrow: they cause the greatest misery. Jealousy consumeth the body and anger doth burn the liver: avoid these two as you would a lion. (Baha'u'llah - cited in Baha'u'llah and the New Era, p. 108)

The sick must not be neglected because they are ailing; nay, rather, we must have compassion upon them and bring them healing. (`Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 181)

If we are sick and in distress let us implore God's healing, and He will answer our prayer. (`Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, p.111)




National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD)
P.O. Box 7 Highland Park, IL 60035
Telephone: 847-831-3438
Internet address:

Eating Disorders Awareness and Prevention (EDAP)
603 Stewart Street, Suite 803
Seattle, WA 98101
Telephone: 800-931-2237
Internet address:

Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders, Inc. (ANRED)
(A clearinghouse for information about eating disorders)
P.O. 5102
Eugene, OR 97405
Telephone: 541-344-1144
Internet address:




By Gerri Shapiro, MS Ed, Maui, Hawaii, USA (Gerri Shapiro is a health educator and Bowen practitioner who has worked with the World Health Organization, Asian Development Bank, USAID and Management Sciences for Health in the areas of alternative and traditional medicine. She is a member of the American Massage Therapy and American Holistic Health Associations. She is the editor of, a Bowen information and resource site, and is the producer of the self-help video Miracle Pain Relief - The Gentle Power of Bowen For Family and Friends,, designed for lay people who do not have access to a Bowen practitioner.)

For as long as I can remember, I've suffered from back pain. Although I have experienced some relief using heat, cold, massage, chiropractic and acupuncture, invariably the pain has always returned. Until one day I visited a friend in California who had similar back problems. She told me she had some body work done called Bowen. Her back and hip pain were gone after just one session!

I was definitely intrigued. I couldn't wait to find out more. When I arrived back home I got on the internet and learned that the Bowen Technique involves a series of very gentle rolling moves on the body using thumbs and fingers. It was developed in Australia in the 1950's by Thomas Bowen, a gifted healer who devised a simple but powerful method for releasing pain.

Hoping to find a Bowen practitioner near me, I emailed close to 40 practitioners around the U.S. and asked if they could refer me to someone. After 39 "no's" I got one "yes!" I arranged to have three Bowen sessions. After the third session, my back pain and sciatica were "history!" I got so excited I decided to train to become a Bowen practitioner.


Tom Bowen was a gifted natural healer from Australia. Late in life he discovered he had an unusual gift that allowed him to intuitively know what was ailing people and how to help them relieve their pain. His healing technique is unique in that it was developed without him having had any previous medical or healthcare training.

He claimed he could feel tiny vibrations in people’s muscles that helped him find the exact location to work on. He spoke of his skill with great humility and frequently stated that his work was “simply a gift from God.”

Tom had the capacity to quickly assess what was wrong with someone and where they were out of balance. He could look into a room full of people, glance at them for about 20 seconds, and know what their problems were. Although he never advertised, it was estimated that he treated over 13,000 people in the course of one year, and he claimed a success rate of about 88%!

Like Palmer (Chiropractic), Rolf, (Rolfing), Feldenkrais (Feldenkrais Technique) and Usui (Reiki), Tom Bowen had a unique talent. He dedicated his life to turning his gift into a practical application that has proven to be of great benefit to thousands of people all over the world.

The Bowen Technique is quite unique. There are several features that set it apart from other modalities:

* It is so gentle that you hardly notice you’re being touched. People usually become very relaxed right away, and often fall asleep during a session.

* Rapid pain relief is common. Most pain and injury will respond within two or three sessions.

* People often experience a deep and long-lasting relief. Two to three sessions spaced one week apart are usually enough to achieve lasting relief, even from long-standing pain or injury.

* There is no one who cannot be treated safely with Bowen. It is so gentle, it can be used on babies, pregnant women, the elderly and the disabled. It is not dangerous to those suffering from chronic illness and it is ideal for treating children because it is non-invasive and non-threatening.

* It is a unique feature of the Bowen Technique that there are two minute breaks in which the practitioner actually leaves the room. These pauses are crucial as they allow the body time to absorb the “messages” presented by the moves.

* There is no cracking, no force and no needles. There is little discomfort or pain involved because there is no heavy pressure or hard probing into sensitive muscles or joints.

* The practitioner does the minimum needed to bring about a healing response in the body. The more acute the pain, the less they do. The less they do, the more profound the effect on the body.

* When you apply the Bowen Technique right after a fall, injury or accident, the release of tension acts in a preventive way to help correct any imbalance before it can adversely affect the body.

How Does Bowen Work?

The gentle yet powerful Bowen moves send neurological impulses to the brain resulting in immediate responses of muscle relaxation and pain reduction. The moves create energy surges which are concentrated in specific areas of the body using "blockers" or "stoppers." These are released when you stand up.

The Bowen Technique helps the body remember how to heal itself. Electrical impulses sent to the nervous system remind the body to regain normal movement in joints, muscles and tendons. This helps relieve muscle spasms and increase blood and lymph flow. Several of the moves are located along acupuncture meridians or on specific acupuncture points which are known to stimulate and balance the body’s energy.

A Bowen Session

A Bowen treatment lasts about 30-45 minutes. No oils are used. Treatment can be done through clothing or directly on the skin. The practitioner "rolls" over the muscles with her fingers, which causes the muscles to relax. The moves are done in groups. Between sets, the practitioner leaves the room for at least two minutes to allow the body to relax and make its own adjustments.

The moves send out signals which:

* stimulate energy flow;

* facilitate lymphatic drainage of toxins and waste;

* promote good circulation;

* release tension;

* increase mobility;

* encourage the body to relax, realign and heal itself.

Some people feel shifts in their bodies during and after a Bowen session. While many experience immediate pain relief, improvement is just as likely to unfold over the next few days to a week. Two or three treatments are usually enough to achieve long-lasting relief. Even long-term conditions may respond very quickly.

The ideal situation is to give the Bowen Technique a try for 3 sessions, once per week, without having any other kind of bodywork in between.

Surprising and Unexpected Recoveries

People with chronic disabilities such as chronic fatigue syndrome, MS, fibromyalgia, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and arthritis have been known to show a gradual improvement in the condition and quality of life. If someone has not responded to other forms of treatment, it is always worth trying the Bowen Technique because in many cases it has been known to trigger sometimes surprising and unexpected recoveries when nothing else has worked.

Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue - One Woman's Story

Exhaustion had become a stable part of her life, as had the pain. During a visit to a new doctor, a brief mention of the Bowen Technique was made and she was referred to a practitioner. She had no idea what to expect and she was very nervous during her first visit. The therapy was explained in a very reassuring way, even though she didn't really understand the part about "energy flow" and she found the whole thing a little weird. But she had come this far, so she thought she might as well give it a try.

The treatment itself was very relaxing. In fact, she almost fell asleep several times. Since she was accustomed to a life of conventional drug therapy, she tried to rationalize how Bowen could possibly help, especially after nothing else had worked. The week after her first session she remained skeptical, and so it was to her surprise that within a few days she began to feel different. Her pain was still there, but she felt different. Like she could do more. She decided it was probably a coincidence.

Over the next few weeks she began to take regular walks and without even noticing it, she slowly developed less reliance on pain killers. Gradually the time between Bowen treatments grew longer. It is now months since her last treatment and she still doesn't understand the whole process, but what does that matter? When did she ever understand how conventional medicine worked?

All she knows is that without the aid of prescription drugs, she is slowly regaining much of the life she had lost for so long.

The main difference between Bowen and other modalities is how fast it works, how gentle it feels and how long the pain relief lasts. Anyone can learn how to do the Bowen Technique: there is only one basic move.




I am an American pioneer in Asia who is doing very well on the Atkins Diet. I would like to correspond with anyone who is also on this diet for mutual support and encouragement.

(Editor's note: This person would like you to send your responses to and then your messages will be passed on to the person requesting assistance.)




In the May issue we will focus on work stress which can be an health issue in our time. In what ways can we deal with stress constructively in the work place? How can we deal with the competing demands? How can we establish healthy relationships with our co-workers, supervisors and customers?




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"Healing Through Unity" is published for the purpose of sharing thoughts, comments and experiences on how the teachings of the Baha'i Faith are being applied to physical and spiritual health. Other than the quoted Holy Writings, the material in this newsletter represents the thoughts and opinions of the writers and has no authority. You are free to copy articles, provided you indicate the source of the article. There are 10 issues per year; it is not published during July and August. The newsletter is produced in Ontario, Canada.

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