An interview with Meir Schneider
Meir Schneider had congenital cataract and glaucoma, Shortly after being born, he was diagnosed with other eye problems such asnystagmus. He had had 5 operations before the age of 7 to remove a large part of his cataract. However, these operations left many thick scars on his cornea —his vision was severely impaired, and doctors declared him legally blind. He attended Braille school, but never gave up hope of seeing clearly again. At the age of 16, he met a ‘saviour’ and began his self-healing exercises. After 10 years of hard work and perseverance, he regained much of his vision and was even able to take his driving test in California without any visual aid.
Now a famous, world renowned medical healer, educator, as well as founder of a self-healing center and school (located in San Francisco), he is also the specialist column writer for a massage magazine. His own work includes Self Healing: My Life and Vision (Penguin, 1987); and The Handbook for Self-healing: Your Personal Program for Better Health and Increased Vitality with Maureen Larkin and Dror Schneider (Penguin, 1994).
When did you first experience the latent force of self-healing?
I first performed eye exercises at the age of 16 in the hope of improving my vision. It did, gradually. I began to understand that all ailments could be self healed; it is only that these self-healing power are latent and need to be awakened. Subsequently, I designed some routine exercises for others and myself. I felt my physical body awakening, and my self-healing power strengthening.
For over 20 years, I have shared my experience of awakening body self-healing power with thousands of people. These people include sportsmen/women, musicians and stroke patients who, as a result of these exercises, improved their deteriorating physical conditions. Encouraged by what I’ve seen, I want to share the benefits with people all over the world with these publications. While healing my eyesight, I found that every part of our body is closely connected. During the time when my eyesight was gradually restored, I began to help those who were seriously ill. From these experiences, I discovered that the self-healing power in us is much stronger than we think. In the exercise routines that I’ve designed, I integrate refined movement exercises, encourage kinesthetic awareness exercises, as well as massage (self and for others), breathing exercises, and visualization. All these exercises complement and enhance one another.
My method is to motivate and provide guidance for patients, so that they know how to observe their bodily conditions very well, and are therefore able to proactively work with their physiotherapists to design suitable home exercises. When the patients actively participate in designing their own therapy courses, they experience a great moral boost, which can help them overcome some of their fears and depressions associated with their ailments.
In your opinion, is the occurrence of degenerative diseases more widespread now than 50 years ago?
These degenerative diseases are a result of our passive lifestyles. Everyday, we move very little within confined spaces (around our offices, in the living room, in airplanes), and then, we lie down to sleep. After long hours of constrained movements, the person becomes too lethargic to move, and movement becomes unnatural. Gradually, our joints, muscles, vision, and all the other parts of the body begin to deteriorate. Of course, you could still be busy working to earn a living; however, you can also do deep breathing exercises while working. You can choose to work out attentively or inattentively in the gymnasium. It is your personal choice whether to move or not. You can also choose to sit in front of the computer monitor without using your lateral vision until your brain completely ignores its existence; or, you may choose to look at distant objects now and then to rejuvenate your eyes again. I have no intention of changing anybody’s lifestyle or work. But the way we work to earn a living is making us sluggish; we can be more active.
In your self-healing centre and school, you emphasis that students themselves shoulder the bulk of the responsibility to heal themselves. What is the basis of this philosophy?
This is so because the health of your body depends on what you think, and the choices you make. In the past, there have been erroneous thoughts that cause us great harm such as “as you grow older, your sight will deteriorate”, and “ it is normal to start having backaches at the age of 30, and arthritis at 45”. Most people take these to be general rules. As a self-healing teacher, I do not want my students to be restricted by these beliefs. I want them to break away from their old habits as they touch their own bodies and experience self-healing.
It takes time to change our old ways of looking after our bodies, and it involves more than just having enthusiastic positive thinking. You need to experience a different way of living. Thus, our job is to help people identify possible methods that can treat their conditions, and to gently train them to elicit their self-awareness and understanding of their own bodies
Can you please tell us which bodily condition is most easily rectified with your self-healing methods?
Amongst our students, there are professional sportsmen as well as very difficult cases that have been certified incurable by doctors. Up to the present moment, there are three nearly completed medical research that provides evidence that these self-healing methods can rejuvenate and strengthen slackened muscles, and allow them to be active once more. Amongst my patients, many are able to recover the functionality of muscles although their own doctors have written them off. In addition, we also have very encouraging results on degenerative cases. They include various hardening of tissues, spinal problems, respiratory disorders, circulation system disorders, digestive system disorders, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis rheumatoid, vision problems, as well as problems arising from bad postures.
Our current problems lie in that patients are passive and doctors have a fixed way of thinking. Doctors are only willing to do what they deem to be right, and are unwilling to do what they think may be wrong. Thus, patients receive treatments that appear in textbooks and standard operating procedures. As a result, creativity in healing is impaired. I believe that creativity is something everyone is endowed with. My teaching methods are built upon the principle of stimulating students’ creativity—they are given sufficient knowledge and information, and are then left to demonstrate their potential.
At the seaside in Virginia, I met with an accident victim. She had no feelings from the chest down. I asked her if her arms were normal, and whether her doctor allowed her to use a walking frame. She said that she had started to use a walking stick to support herself only the day before, even though her injury was already one year old. She added that her doctor was afraid that she might fall and tried his best to keep her from further mishaps. She was spared the falls, but she had not been on her feet for the past year, resulting in weaknesses in her leg muscles and bones. When we try to avoid making mistakes, we may also not have be doing the right thing.
We need a new system of therapy. The present relationship comprising know-all doctors and passive patients is no longer suitable. It will only make the situation worse by creating more cases of degenerative diseases. Being responsible for one’s own recovery is very important.
In your opinion, why are so many people feeling helpless and hopeless over the present therapies for degenerative diseases?
This is because present therapies are based on the principle of treating acute ailments. This principle may almost be considered to be a branch of engineering! Currently, about twenty-five percent of patients suffer from high blood pressure. Modern medical treatments can identify blockages in our hearts and kidneys, and then remove these blockages. However, many patients suffer from high blood pressure as a result of their lifestyles, such as too much sodiumin their diet, shallow breathing, and stress. Hypnosis, meditation, yoga, vegetarian diet and other self-healing techniques can help treat many coronary artery problems. Unfortunately, modern medical science considers these to be inferior solutions, and downplays them. Note that in cases of physical wounds arising from accidents, surgery is indispensable in the healing process. Therefore, modern medical science has its role to play. However, it is our lifestyles that lead to the gradually worsening of arthritis, hardening of the arteries, and impaired insulin secretion. These latent problems are normally not discussed, and frequently glossed over through the prescription of pills and sheer ignorance. As health educators, we help others to rebuild their confidence both in their self-healing abilities, and their conviction that they can start new, healthy lives all over again.