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The man on the radio related his experiences with addiction. He described how his life had followed the same path as that of so many other Native American men. Decades of guilt and anger, emotional battles that raged through the teenage years into adulthood like their own trail of tears.

He outlined the treatment he had pursued to address the disease, western methodology that simply did not work for him. Finally another Native American man had invited him to participate in a sweat lodge ceremony. When he finished the ceremony he felt empowered and spiritually cleansed. For the first time he felt challenged to remain clean, to succeed where he had not before. He described a cultural connection that strengthened him to remain committed to his goal. He described a clear path that he could follow.

The man on the radio now helps others as they reach out to ancient rituals, supporting, challenging; offering cultural perspective for the demons that turn dreams into nightmares.

Is there a cultural connection to the health challenges we all face? When we binge with foods we know are not good for us, when we make yet another excuse for postponing fitness sessions, when we deny the physical impact stress has on us, what are we really doing? How did our predecessors manage these same issues?

Successes like the sweat lodge ceremonies should cause us to look for other alternative medical approaches. Trading one drug for another which is so often the current “cure” did not work for the man on the radio or so many others in our communities.

For diet issues swapping one set of processed food for another set of prepackaged meals does not achieve long term results. We try one exercise regimen after another with limited permanent results and frequent injury. We race from one event to another trying to live life to its fullest and ultimately doing more harm than we can imagine.

Issues of diet, exercise and stress are not new to our generation, so how did our predecessors handle these issues? What would Grandma have recommended or what would she do in our shoes? What is our own cultural sweat lodge?