Vol. VIII No. 28 - Tuesday
July 14 - July 20, 2009



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Chiang Mai FeMail  by Elena Edwards
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Reiki succeeds in US military hospitals

Thai folk wisdom and Buddhist teaching – the answer to addiction?

‘Authentic’ Thai dogs and a doggy ‘Boot Camp’

 

Reiki succeeds in US military hospitals

William Lee Rand
Reiki, the Japanese- based healing technique which anyone can learn, is now being used in veterans’ hospitals in the USA to treat solders returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Fort Bliss in Texas has become a centre for this activity; after all, where else in the USA where else would you expect a military Reiki program to be located? In the US Army’s base hospital soldiers returning from war are treated for brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions.
Psychologist John E. Fortunato started the Fort Bliss Restoration and Resilience Centre in July 2007. Patients volunteer for the programme and receive about half the medication that those in other programmes receive. As well as using Reiki healing, the programme makes use of a wide range of other therapies including exercise, group sports activities, and various complementary therapies.
Reiki healing has been found effective in treating hyper-arousal, anxiety, panic and tension-induced physical pain. The programme has been so successful that Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey has suggested it be replicated throughout the military. US Army authorities have also set aside $4 million in grant money to study the effectiveness of complimentary therapies, including Reiki.

 

Thai folk wisdom and Buddhist teaching – the answer to addiction?

In this, the 21st century, wherever in the world one looks, modern medicines provide cures for illnesses which, in past centuries, wiped out huge swathes of the population, and science opens undreamed-of horizons in knowledge and technology. For the majority, at least in the first world and in many developing countries, life could be seen as easier and more convenient, with more opportunities than ever before, even in these difficult times.
Yet, in many countries, media reports tell of an ever-increasing number of deaths due to drink, drugs and violence, giving rise to the thought that maybe the ‘new world’ of commercially-based everyday life is causing more stress than the old ways ever did, and that the accepted means of dealing with these problems are beginning to lose their effect.
Even here in Thailand, awareness is growing of the personal, family and health problems caused by alcohol and the use of drugs. Given that there are fewer private detox centres and other forms of assistance available here than in the West, and certainly less money available to pay for such services, what chance is there of controlling and reducing these crippling forms of addiction?
One, to Westerners, very unconventional source of assistance is, however, achieving world-wide fame as a place where addicts from all countries are welcome. The detox centre itself may be one reason why its treatments are so successful…it is located in a Buddhist monastery north of Bangkok. For decades, Wat Tham Krabok’s treatment and rehabilitation centre has been dealing with the curse of both drug and alcohol abuse and addiction in the traditional manner, with a herbal detoxification regime reinforced by mental detoxification achieved by Dharma talks and meditation aimed at building up the strength of the mind and the willpower. Over a period of 40 years, over 100,000 patients have taken the treatments. Various claims of success percentages up to 80% have been made online; however, the centre does not give out cure rates, only stating that everyone who keeps the vow they have made to change their lives will be cured of their addiction.
Anyone, of any nationality, is welcome, the only qualification required is the determination to beat the addiction. 80% of foreign patients at present are from the UK, (including Ireland), and Germany; anti-drug and alcohol networks and radio programmes in those countries are publicising the treatment as an alternative to the methadone and valium, (themselves highly addictive), usually prescribed in the West to ‘cure’ addicts.
The first 5 days, (20% of the programme), are the worst, physical detoxification is not, of course, a comfortable process, however it is undertaken. The treatment includes induced vomiting by drinking strong herbal concoctions, taking herbal tablets, and steam baths. The other 80% of the programme, as already mentioned, is the training of the mind, turning it away from the need to use drugs or alcohol and giving it something to hold onto when craving strikes.
According to ex-addicts and people who are at present undergoing the treatment, it is highly successful. One young Irish heroin addict in the programme states that, ‘the medicine works… better than what is offered at home. I would be going through severe withdrawal symptoms by now, but the medicine seems to speed up the process’. He is confident that he will be able to become permanently clean.
A Belgian monk at the monastery, who works with the addicts, was an addict himself when he first came to Wat Tham Krabok. Ordained 6 years ago, he admitted that the centre’s treatments are a great deal different from perceived wisdom in the West, but, from his own experience, believes strongly that they are a permanent answer to the personal tragedy of addiction. The abbot of the monastery, Ajarn Boonsong Thanacharo, says that it’s all in the mind, and that the development of will-power is the crux of the programme.
Later this year, a conference will be held in America on the subject of Buddhism and drug and alcohol rehabilitation, during which the combination of Thai folk wisdom and the Buddha’s teaching that make up the Tham Krabok programme will be introduced to the world stage for the first time. It will, one hopes, be very well received.
For more information on Wat Tham Krabok and the programme, please visit the website at www.thamkrabok-monastery.org.


‘Authentic’ Thai dogs and a doggy ‘Boot Camp’

The Thai government’s Ministry of Science and Technology recently found itself in a slight dilemma when its representatives realised they would have to turn their attention to …Thai dogs!
It would appear that, when ministerial officials were granted an audience with His Majesty the King to discuss the issue of the patenting of the aroma-control gene in Thai fragrant jasmine rice, the conversation turned, (quite understandably –rice genes are perhaps not the world’s moist fascinating subject), to His Majesty’s favourite dog, Khun Thong Daeng. Those of us fortunate enough to have a copy of His Majesty’s charming illustrated book about this Hi-So, (and typically Thai), dog, will remember that His Majesty compared Thong Daeng’s physical appearance to that of the very ancient, rare and very quiet, African breed, the Basenji.

Four views of limited edition postage stamps showing His Majesty the King’s favourite dog, Khun Thong Daeng, from an exhibition of the stamps held at Kad Suan Kaew in September, 2006. Thong Daeng was a street dog in Bangkok who, as a puppy, was rescued and presented to His Majesty during His visit to the area in 1998

Medium sized, rich red brown coat, with coiled tail, pricked ears and no bark, (but a large selection of other very un-doggy vocalisations guaranteed to cause intense amusement to the lucky owners), and, best of all, a very strong sense of loyalty to said owners. Sounds very like rather a large number of the dogs, male as well as female, at present lodged at the Care for Dogs’ shelter here in Chiang Mai, doesn’t it! A typical, and very worthwhile, Thai dog.
From the beautiful, slightly Disneyesque drawings of the King’s favourite in the book, and other real- life photos viewed online, Thong Daeng seems to be a very fine example of her type…and is now to be judged as the standard for authentic Thai dogs in an attempt to prevent wicked foreign breeders from claiming the ‘breed’ as their own, so, (according to a government minister), depriving the Thai people of ‘ownership’ of the typical Thai dog.
His Majesty expressed his concern that the number of authentic Thai dogs seems to be decreasing as Thai people these days prefer fashionable Western breeds such as the Golden Retriever and the Poodle. True, but there do still seem to be a lot of rather ‘authentic’ Thai dogs on the streets of this fair city and in the grounds of its innumerable temples…many of whom are being sterilised to prevent further breeding. As a result, His Majesty’s comment may well have been prophetic as well as objective…a great shame, as Thai dogs, to one who owns 4 examples, are perhaps the most affectionate, individualistic and interesting canines ever!
If it’s an invention or even an aroma-control gene, it can be patented to prevent copying. Not so for a dog. However, all is not lost…there is a ‘Geographical Identification Law’, which can be brought into play to protect life forms. In order for the law to be enacted, full, (very full), details of the specific life form and its natural habitat must be provided. Over to the National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre, (NECTEC), in Bangkok, whose unenviable task it will be to collect exhaustive data on all authentic Thai dogs, using Thong Daeng as the worthy prototype. NECTEC’s recent experience in conducting a study of Thai body sizes using a scanner will no doubt be useful, although people do tend to stand still when asked and don’t bite or do what dogs do on clean floors!
After the study has been completed, His Majesty will be brought up to date on the project, and the typical, authentic Thai dog will be registered under the Geographical Identification Law by the ministry. Not, we suspect that the strays on the streets and in the temples who thus qualify as authentic Thai dogs will be impressed by this hike in their status…but they may, it’s hoped, be treated more kindly by the general public as a result.
Interestingly, online there is just one reference to Thong Daeng look-alikes; a UK breeder who clearly loves these dogs for their very special characters and charm. The Thai Ridgeback, however, (a definitive and equally ancient breed - one of only two ridgebacked breeds worldwide, the other being the Rhodesian Ridgeback), is splashed all over breeders’ websites, mostly in the USA. Sadly, photos show that, already, the physical characteristics of the breed are being altered…perhaps the Ministry of Science and Technology should include this typically Thai dog in their plans as well.
As we’re, (again), on the subject of dogs on this page, a recent report from the Royal Thai Police may be of interest. This august body is looking for law-enforcement volunteers, and is prepared to train them at a special boot camp…for dogs! Amazingly, the Thai police only have access to 33 trained ‘professional’ police dogs and their handlers, in spite of these partnerships’ reputation worldwide in the fields of drug searches, guard duty and chasing and actually catching criminals!
For the last two annual three-month training courses, the Royal Thai Police have accepted around 300 dogs and their owners each year, but only a few have reached the required standards. It seems that the basic commands such as ‘sit’ and ‘wait’ are as far as the majority get…although it’s not made clear whether the ‘majority’ refers to the dogs or to their owners! It’s just not as easy as it looks! The successful few owners are usually happy to volunteer as dog handlers, and have taken part, with their dogs, in drug searches and official occasions. This year, however, the ‘doggy boot camp’ has attracted 800 owners and their pets; if more are successful, the police are happy to continue running the courses.



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