Health and Salvation week at Boarbank, 11th-16th January 2016: Body, Mind and Spirit

Karen & Sr Agatha

 This year we branched out somewhat with a focus on complementary therapies. These are used by billions of people worldwide, yet conventional heathcare professionals often treat them with scepticism.

Can they teach us something? Or is it all hocus pocus?

 Sr Margaret opening the course Health & Salvation 

Sr Margaret introduced the theme with a couple of lectures taking a theological approach. What does our faith tell us about the scientific questions involved? And what does the Church have to say religiously about treatments that are closely associated with other religions?

In both areas, the Catholic tradition seemed to point to a prudent openness to whatever is good in unfamiliar traditions, without ceasing to value the tremendous benefits of conventional medicine.

Other speakers introduced us to concrete examples.

Sue L on reflexology   Dr Nuala Bent

Sr Sue Lawrenson explained the principles of reflexology, and demonstrated on one of the participants. Dr Nuala Bent, who practises Bioenergy Therapy, explained its theoretical principles with reference to the New Physics, and again ran a demonstration session.

Dr Jonathan Berry  Dr Kath Mannix 
Dr Dominic Bray Night prayer

We also watched a Horizon documentary entitled ‘The Power of the Placebo’. Dr Jonathan Berry, a pharmacologist, provided an expert overview of questions about the safety and efficacy of both conventional and complementary medication.

Another aspect of the week was following up last year’s theme of mental health. Professor Kathryn Mannix introduced us to the principles of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, as something useful also for ordinary life. Dr Dominic Bray spoke enthusiastically about ‘Solution-focused Therapies’, which concentrate on the positive goals that someone wants to achieve rather than on their problems. Both speakers have expertise especially in palliative care, but both these methods have proved highly successful in wider practice also.

As usual, the context was one of friendships old and new, cemented by the experience of shared prayer and meals, conversation around the log fire, and exploring the local area.

 Fr Frank and Fr David  Bay view

We are very grateful to the priests who took part for presiding at Mass each day. One evening we watched the film ‘Lourdes’, a rather quizzical fictional exploration of a possible healing. On the free day, some people went birdwatching at Leighton Moss, while others took advantage of some rare glorious sunshine to climb Hampsfell, then return via a tea-tasting (and birthday celebration) session at the Hazelmere Cafe (tea grown in Cornwall was an unexpected highlight!) and a return walk along the promenade. The tea theme also included a cream tea when Sr Anne was able to join the group from the Nursing Home. We ended the week with our usual social evening, including Compline around the fire.

Walking group  Walking group 
Kath M birthday Sr Anne's cream tea!

Next year’s Health and Salvation will be from 9th-14th January 2017 and the theme will be ‘Healthcare and Time’.

More details to follow. If you are interested, please contact Sr Margaret

Very many thanks once again to John for the photos from the week.