Kyle Jensen / The Record — Lynne Donnelly leads a class through tai chi movements. Donnelly is also the president of the Whidbey Island Holistic Health Association.

Explore alternative medical practices on Whidbey at holistic health fair

For reiki master and teacher Sue Averett, western medicine has become somewhat cumbersome.

Sometimes, what can help most with a condition is to use alternative methods such as touch therapy or acupuncture rather than taking that pill, she says. This weekend provides an opportunity to dive headfirst into those alternative holistic approaches.

“A holistic health approach can be an alternative or a complementary element to someone’s existing treatment,” Averett said. “Many of these forms teach you just to relax, to have a nice little timeout from the stresses of a working life. That small investment of time can pay off with huge rewards.”

Holistic health practitioners on Whidbey Island will gather Saturday to give curious guests a glimpse into their practices at the holistic health fair. The fair brings practitioners from the Whidbey Island Holistic Health Association to Bayview Hall to discuss their work, offering information and literature for those curious about alternative forms of treatment. The fair is set to bring Island-based certified professionals from a range of fields, including naturopathic medicine, massage, qi gong, shamanism and aromatherapy.

The event is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and admission is free.

These techniques, with names like ayurveda and feng shui, can be entirely foreign to some. It’s part of the reason why Averett and other attending practitioners are offering more than literature on their respective practices, but throwing in time for free demonstrations of their techniques as well.

“To let people familiarize themselves with these techniques, some of us are doing five to 10 minute hands-on sessions during the fair,” Averett said. “People here are generally very open minded, and we want to show people there can be an alternative or complementary element to their existing treatment.”

To be clear, many if not most of the holistic health practitioners on the island don’t encourage their clients to stop going to their primary care physician. It’s simply another approach or a complement to existing treatment.

According to Sarah Chappelle, a naturopathic physician from Whidbey ND in Freeland, the difference is holistic health emphasizes an active participation in one’s health. For Chappelle, the approach differs from one in which a patient follows their doctor’s every order because they have more power to take their health into their own hands.

“To have a general understanding of what it takes to be healthy and stay healthy will go a long way to help people stay well with their mind, body and spirit,” Chappelle said. “People’s quality of life can suffer if they only adhere to their doctor’s advice of taking this pill and that pill, rather than consider what else they can do to keep themselves healthy.”

Lynne Donnelly, president of the Whidbey Island Holistic Health Association, says the island is littered with holistic health options and skilled practitioners. For her, the large amount of holistic health practitioners is testament to Whidbey’s generally healthy approach and open-mindedness to alternative treatment. Many islanders place a high value on balancing their mental, physical and spiritual health, which she says in many cases can be key to prolonging and improving their lives.

For Donnelly, it’s not just a coincidence Whidbey Island is “one of the longest lived counties.” There’s a certain energy and freshness that comes with it.

“Whidbey is a great place for all kinds of holistic practices and practitioners because there is a great energy,” Donnelly said. “You can feel the energy change when you get off the ferry. We tap into that energy.”

Contributed photo — Reiki master and teacher Sue Averett performs reiki techniques on a patient. Averett says she will likely offer demonstrations during the holistic health fair.

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