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A holistic approach to healthy living

“We have a disease management system in this country, not a health care system.”

This is the mantra of Dr. Andrew Weil, an integrative medicine specialist in Arizona who preaches a holistic approach to healthy living.

Margaret Tuerk is among his fans, as are other practitioners who have almost filled the new Complete Wellness Arts and Science Center near the Buffalo-Cheektowaga line.

“It’s really about integrating all the layers of your life – your mind, body and spirit – to be healthy,” Tuerk said of her business, Arise Within, Balance For Your Life.

Tuerk, 47, a Lancaster native who lives in Pembroke, worked for two decades in finance, mostly at manufacturing plants in Erie and Orleans counties. One day, about 11 years ago, she fainted, and everything changed.

“I worked out six days a week,” she recalled. “I ate well. I was in great shape physically, and trying to reduce stress. And I was out long enough where I had weakness in my body. I was in my 30s, and the doctors were not really sure what happened to me. … It made me even more focused, even more in tune, with things going on in my body, and the awareness that I need to be healthy and vital.”

The health scare led her on a journey of deeper wellness discovery, and replaced one career with another. For the last several years, she has been a certified Ayurvedic lifestyle practitioner and Reiki teacher. She studied at the American Institute of Vedic Studies in Santa Fe, N.M., and the Chopra Center in Carlsbad, Calif., and this month moved her business into the Complete Wellness Center at 1515 Kensington Ave.

Describe Ayurvedic.

It doesn’t believe you treat one thing and everything else is fine. It’s all connected. It’s balancing the mind, body and spirit, bringing it all in until you feel good about yourself. … It brings you that calmness and clarity to address the world in a different way.

It seems inflammation is at the heart of so many chronic conditions these days. Where is all this inflammation coming from?

I believe it’s coming from our lifestyle, our diet, what we eat. It’s also coming from the stress that we create in our bodies. Stress inhibits the body from healing itself. From an Ayurvedic perspective, if you don’t understand your particular dosha – your makeup – you can be eating foods, even though they might be good, that could be harming your body.

What’s the training like at the Chopra Center to become a certified Ayurvedic Lifestyle instructor?

Attending several of their programs, from their meditation program to their journey into healing. … You really get into the herbal aspect of it, how important massage is, the meditation, the yoga – the spiritual aspect – you bring it all together. You’re studying, you’re doing one-on-ones, you’re hearing from the founders of the Chopra Center, Drs. Deepak Chopra and David Simon (an endocrinologist and neurologist, respectively), and working with them to learn how you teach this. It was really interesting.

They both believe modern medicine has treated the person as kind of a thinking machine, where from an Ayurvedic position, we’re energy and we’re connecting with the energy and information all around us. What we think, what we feel emotionally, has a big affect on the symptoms that we feel in our body. Our perceptions in life, how we view events going on around us, it’s not just physical.

For the uninitiated, how much does this have to do with the basic tenants of the Hindu religion?

There’s some. Ayurveda is the oldest healing system. It’s about 5,000 years old. It’s a consciousness-based system of healing. When you look at yoga and the spiritually of yoga, where Hindu drew some of those traditions was really the nonviolence, the peace. It’s kind of like Buddhism also. It’s your connection to everything, you’re spirituality, knowing it’s all one.

One of the things few Western New York doctors seem to say is, ‘I can treat some of your symptoms, but you really need to think about seeing a chiropractor, or an Ayurvedic specialist or meditation specialist.’ Why is that?

I think they’re not that familiar with the benefits. They haven’t been taught that in school. As they become more comfortable, more knowledgeable, with what we have to offer, they realize that acupuncture, Ayurveda, meditation, yoga from the complete yoga sense, all those different types of Eastern philosophies and therapies can be integrated. It’s not one or the other; it should be a combination.

When you work with people, awareness is the first step. Until you start realizing the choice you’re making in that moment, you’re not going to realize the triggers that are causing you to eat foods that aren’t healthy. Or maybe it’s drinking, maybe it’s drugs, or gambling. It’s all those different behaviors you’re going to for comfort. You’re trying to satisfy a need. The premise of Ayurveda is really getting down to the root cause.

Here’s the tough question. How much does it cost to come in and see you, and does insurance cover any of this?

Typically, an initial session is $90 and we do hour sessions after that, for $75. Insurance is not covering holistic medicine yet. I’m hopeful. (She will become part of the Burgio Health Alliance, and will offer discounts through it.)

email: refresh@buffnews.com

On the Web: Read more about Margaret Tuerk’s business at arisewithin.com

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