The POWER of audiobooks truly uncovered to me about 2 years ago. I’ve never been a big reader. However, I’ve always been an avid learner. This may sound paradoxical. But in fact, my preferred way of learning is through a class or by listening.
I used to listen to Podcasts a lot. And I still find them great. But there were so many books to read. And I often felt frustrated not to be able to catch up with the world’s learning capacity.
Now, I formed the habit of listening to audiobooks most days, when I’m having a walk or doing some chores at home. It’s been great, and I’ve been able to listen to quite a few audiobooks since then.
I found out that SOME AUDIOBOOKS almost feel like THERAPY. And you truly change your life by choosing the RIGHT AUDIOBOOKS to listen to AT THE RIGHT TIME.
That’s why I always have a few audiobooks lined up on my audible app*. I can pick the audiobook depending on my MOOD and NEEDS.
Now, a few audiobooks have given me life-changing and MIND-OPENING INSIGHTS on ALTERNATIVE HEALING, and that is what I want to share with you today. So, with no further due, here are the audiobooks I strongly recommend you listen to in the coming months.
An Audiobook About Alternative *PHYSICAL* Healing
Over the past 10 years, I’ve experienced pains and health problems that most doctors could not explain. This was a core trigger for me to try and become more open-minded about alternative ways to heal.
What I found out, is that the efficacy of many so-called “alternative healing” methods is strongly backed by scientific evidence. Oftentimes, this new evidence has just not made its way through to most medical doctors.
That’s why I decided to dive deeper into the subject. I started, years ago, by reading the book Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ* by Giulia Enders. This helped me better understand where all my problems were potentially coming from and why.
I’ve since then listened to a few audiobooks about alternative healing, and here are the two books that I found most mind-blowing about the topic.
KEEP an OPEN MIND, knowing that the authors of these audiobooks have been looking closely at the scientific evidence before writing their books.
1. The Nature Cure: A Doctor’s Guide to the Science of Natural Medicine* by Andreas Michalsen
I first heard about the author, Andreas Michalsen, in a documentary about FASTING made by the serious Franco-German TV-channel called Arte. Andreas Michalsen is working at the Berlin Charité, which has a great reputation.
He has been conducting research about alternative and natural healing methods, such as fasting, for over a decade.
This audiobook is very easy to listen to, yet contains a LOT OF INFORMATION.
Here are my selected key learnings, which of course are biased towards my health track records:
Note: Before I go ahead, please note that I am by no means providing medical advice of any sorts, my intention is only to reflect my personal learnings and experiences regarding the content of the presented audiobook. Always seek professional advice regarding your health.
You can improve your health by exposing yourself to temperature changes. This is especially useful to improve your sleep. You can do this by showering with water around 18°C. Sauna is also healthy, but only if you are not sick. Never exaggerate when you are feeling unwell.
Fasting is effective against bacteria but counter-productive against viruses (in the latter case your body needs glucose to fight the disease and recover).
- Prepare by having a simpler diet at least one day before a complete fast.
- He recommends drinking vegetable juices or broth when fasting for longer periods. Early-stage studies show that muscle mass might be declining when fasting only on water and tea.
- To help your body clean up, you should stimulate your liver by applying a warm, humid towel on it for about 30 minutes every day. You should heat the liver by using, for instance, a hot water bottle, around or after lunchtime. This helps you detox better and faster because your liver is the organ responsible for cleaning your blood when it comes out of the digestive system.
- Sweating is good (for instance going to the sauna).
- You should brush and clean your tongue in the morning, through which your body will also eliminate undesirable elements.
- It’s also recommended to stimulate blood circulation by using, for instance, a natural dry brush in the morning to rub your body.
- Progressively build up your food intake after the complete fast (spread the recovery over at least 2 days).
- Best is to eat PLENTY OF VEGETABLES (I can only agree on this), a bit of fruit, and healthy fats, such as olive oil, nut oils, avocados etc.
- Milk products and eggs should be consumed in SMALL QUANTITIES. Milk products have been scientifically correlated to diseases. However, they seem to be healthy when extracted from happy alpine cows. This is called the alpine paradox.
- Fish seems to have a neutral effect on the body.
- Plant-based protein is as good as proteins from animal sources for the muscles, no matter which food intake combination.
- Complex carbohydrates can be healthy IF they are consumed in SMALL QUANTITIES. You should go for whole grain products and stick to about 90 grams PER DAY.
- A lot of people are intolerant to FRUCTOSE and not aware of it. It is totally fine when the fructose comes from fruits or honey, but be careful about other products such as agave syrup or dried fruits, which have a much higher concentration of fructose.
- Beetroot is great for endurance.
Also good to know:
- The body is able to adapt within days or weeks to a new diet.
- You should NOT drink WHILE eating and take your time to EAT SLOWLY and masticate properly.
- Studies have shown that a change to a vegetarian diet (i.e. stopping to eat meat) leads to a better mood. This is possibly due to the animals’ stress during their life and when they get killed to be processed.
- Vegan is not necessarily healthier than a Lacto-vegetarian diet (with only small quantities of healthy and organic milk products). Besides, if you are vegan, you should pay attention to eat a wide diversity of vegetables, nuts, whole grains and plant-based fats. Additionally, be sure to take supplements for vitamin B12.
- Meat substitutes such as TOFU or SEITAN are ONLY ok if taken every now and then. They should NOT be part of the daily food intake. Vegetables and fruits are still the best options.
- Eggs do not seem to be healthy.
The “Adventists” in California, USA, are one of the “Blue Zones” in the world, meaning that they live healthier and longer than average. They consider their bodies as divine. They are on a vegetarian diet, walk a lot and have intensive social contacts.
GREEN nature makes you healthier.
We have a “nature deficit” and should make sure to be exposed to forests and trees more often. It has been scientifically proven that even pictures of nature or the use of natural materials in your home help relax your body in mind.
Physical inactivity makes you SICK. Exercising not only helps prevent disease, but it also can help treat it (except when you have a strong fever or feel very weak). It can help prevent cancer and neck pain or headache.
- However, TOO MUCH physical activity is NOT GOOD (such as running a marathon). Walking is great and you should try to go for longer sessions during the weekend (e.g. 2-hour walks).
- It is healthy to exercise for about 2,5 to 5 hours per week. Easy intensive activities such as a fast-paced walk are perfect for this.
We should MOVE MORE, not less (!) as we GROW OLDER.
- There are 3 types of physical activity:
- Endurance, which slows down the ageing process.
- Strength training, which should be done DAILY but not using too much EFFORT.
- It is important to exercise in a variety of different ways. Yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong are very healthy. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is also good, especially when combined with variations such as jumps etc.
Recent research has shown that FASCIA, which is the skin that envelops our muscles and tendons, constitute an important element of our body. Fascia and bonding tissue are also responsible for your perception of the space around you. The following can have a negative impact on the bonding tissue cells:
- Not enough water. The cells need hydration.
- A bad diet. If your body over-acidifies this can lead to pains.
The following help your FASCIA remain flexible and prevent pains:
- Massages. The “bonding tissue massage” may be painful, but is particularly effective.
- fasting and a healthy diet, as described above. They also help against cellulite.
- physical activity.
SITTING a lot is NOT healthy. Try to change positions, to work on a standing desk and do “walking” meetings.
CAREFUL: paradoxically, stressing out by trying to be perfectly healthy is also very harmful!
The main causes of STRESS are:
- Your job.
- Being too tough on yourself, setting your expectations too high as to what you should do or achieve.
- “Leisure stress”, i.e. having too many activities planned during your time off. If you want to read more about this, you can read another article I wrote about FREE TIME, why and how we should make use of it.
- Road traffic.
- The fact that you are constantly “digitally” available or reachable.
Is there such a thing as POSITIVE STRESS?
This heavily depends on the following factors:
- For how long does the stress last? If it is just a short period of stress, e.g. during sport or before an exam, then it can be good and enhance your concentration and memory capacity. If the stress level holds for longer, it is going to impact you negatively.
- How high is your stress level?
- Do you have control over its factors? Stress becomes worse when inflicted by others or a situation that you cannot control. If you have the feeling that you are in CONTROL, you will be stress-resistant.
- Is there a good reason for your stress? Working over 55 hours a week is NOT a good reason, and should not be your normal workload.
Paradoxically, the FEAR of STRESS os UNHEALTHY and increases its negative impact.
To improve your health, Dr Andreas Michalsen also recommends the following:
- Standing or sitting straight increases your feeling of self-worth.
- Cutting down your time spent watching TV. Television is NOT relaxing for your mind and body.
To heal better, your body needs to RELAX.
In case you are to be operated, the author of this audiobook recommends to take time off for at least 1 hour per day for about one week BEFORE the operation, to meditate, do yoga or other similar calming activities. For those who are not underweight, even fasting for a couple of days before the intervention can help you recover faster and better afterwards.
Last but not least, Dr Andreas Michalsen gives more details about YOGA, MEDITATION AND AYURVEDA:
- 90 min. per week are already enough to cause great benefits.
- Yoga helps against neck pain, gut problems, fatigue and even cancer!
- In his opinion, Iyengar Yoga schools are the most serious and can be trusted.
- Yoga strengthens your muscles.
- It coordinates your breath to your movement and is deeply relaxing.
- It helps you stretch your body, which makes your body produce endorphins and makes your fascia healthier.
- Mindfulness (including the body scan technique) is of great help against chronical pains and depression.
- It helps to focus your attention on your body and do breathing exercises.
- When you find it difficult to let go of a thought, name it.
- Mindfulness impacts gene expression positively.
- The grey matter in your brain grows.
- Dr Andreas Michalsen recommends meditating between 30 to 60 minutes per day.
- IF you find it difficult to meditate for so long, you should first go for a jog or do some yoga, and then add a shorter session of meditation to it.
- As a beginner, you should start with shorter meditation sessions (approximately 15 minutes). Practising in the morning will be easier since your mind will be fresher.
- Breathing slowly is VERY HEALTHY.
- Ayurveda is firstly based on a healthy diet, but also uses for instance aromatherapy.
- It can help your stomach and intestine, even without giving up on the foods to which someone may be intolerant.
- Ayurveda is a holistic healing system.
- It focuses on:
- A healthy diet, order and phytotherapy.
- Cleansing or purging procedures (via the nose, gut or blood.)
Now that I have written down my notes of this audiobook review, I realise how long they are! But the book still contains so much more about diverse health topics. I would recommend anyone to listen to it and filter out the information that is most relevant to them on their own.
To those who have lost hope in conventional medicine, definitely listen to this audiobook before you give up!
An Audiobook About Alternative *MENTAL* Healing
2. How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence* by Michael Pollan
I believe that this audiobook will sound challenging to most listeners. It did to me as well. But I heard so much about it that I had to listen to it and see for myself. And I am very happy I did, as it gives me new insights and HOPE when it comes to alternative healing methods for the MIND.
This audiobook is about the use of psychedelics.
The author gives a historical context. He explains when and where psychedelics were used, and also why they were banned in the past century. And he also reports about his own experience with psychedelics.
Here are a few of the key learnings that I got from this audiobook:
Note: I am by no means recommending or encouraging the use of psychedelics. You should always abide by Law and seek professional or medical advice.
- Research about psychedelics showed that, when used the right way, they could have a very positive impact on mental health.
- Meditation, breathing exercises and fasting are other ways to get to similar results.
- Studies show that the intake of psilocybin (which is a natural psychedelic substance produced by many mushrooms) actually DECREASES brain activity.
The Default Mode Network
Psychedelics seem to decrease or even shut down our DEFAULT MODE NETWORK (DMN).
- The DMN is what connects the old and the new in our brains. It is related, for instance, to our ability to self-reflect, do mind-wandering, and worry. It is also involved in our EGO construction, our moral reasoning and ability to attribute mental states to others.
- The DMN consumes a disproportionate amount of brain energy. It switches on when nothing from the outside world is demanding our attention.
- The DMN is not operational until late in the child’s development since it defines the story of who we are, which comes with time and experiences. This means that the experience of shutting down our DMN gives us a “childish” view of the world and helps us respond more creatively to problems or situations that arise.
Michael Pollan explains that, of course, the DMN has good reasons to be by bringing us a sense of individual identity. But this also seems to come at a cost:
- our individual identity also produces a sense of separation from others and from nature. In a way, the DMN produces a “controlled illusion” in that it distorts objective reality and subjectivises it differently for every individual. This means that the world really looks totally different from your neighbour’s eyes.
- mind-wandering is positively correlated with unhappiness
- the DMN is repressing memories and emotion areas. This is for our brain to be able to function better as a prediction machine and help us leap faster to conclusions.
- an excess of DMN (where the ego is too much in control) may be one of the main causes for low entropy mental diseases such as DEPRESSION.
Shutting down the DMN
Shutting down the DMN leads to EGO DISSOLUTION, which can also be experienced with meditation (e.g. in Buddhist practice). This is why some people experience this sense of absolute truth and objectivity in their visions. This could mean that the “mystical experience” lived by meditators OR people under the influence of psychedelics simply comes from the momentary loss of subjectivity and sense of self.
There is a range of factors which can trigger this type of “mystical experience”:
- certain breathing exercises (e.g. holotropic breathwork),
- sensory deprivation,
- extreme experiences like fasting,
- extreme sport,
- near-death experiences,
- prayer, and,
- overwhelming experiences of awe.
Most impressive to me was the list of scientific studies that were conducted in the field. While still in their infancy, they have shown incredible results in the following areas:
- fighting depression. People who had been suffering from high levels of depression for over a decade, and did not even KNOW what living a day without depression could feel like, became “depression-free” for months after just one session of medical treatment with psychedelics. Even though the depression seemed to come back after a few months, they still felt it was better, and regained hope that their depression could be cured, eventually.
- recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The audiobook mentions incredible rates of success in curing people who had been trying ANY methods available to them for years, with NO results.
- alleviating mental suffering from terminal cancer patients. It appears that a treatment using psychedelics helped terminal cancer patients live their last months with joy and love, taking away the fear of dying and giving them incredible inner strength.
Without encouraging the use of psychedelics, the author, however, recommends the following readings about the topic for those who have decided to venture out and experience with those substances:
- The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys*
- The Guidelines For Voyagers and Guides
If you want to have a look at the serious research that is being done, I’ve found that the Imperial College London just launched the first world’s first Centre for Psychedelics Research. John Hopkins University also has had an official research group on the topic since 2000.
I hope you enjoyed this quick dive into a really new and promising field of study for mental health and growth. I thought this audiobook was fascinating and strongly recommend it to you.
Before You Go…
I genuinely hope you enjoyed this list and my extensive notes about each audiobook.
I tried sharing my insights the best I could, but everyone’s experience and lessons from hearing an audiobook are different.
Let me know if you listened to my favourite audiobooks cited above, and whether they helped you!