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Author: Barbara Smith
Title: Water as Tools

The best 'tool'? Cold water? The waist compress? Exercise in fresh air? Fresh salad and vegetables daily? It's a difficult question.

I am inclined to put in a word for hot-and-cold.

For anyone with joint or muscular pain, whether rheumaticky or from injury, hot-and-cold is indeed a valuable resource. Take a couple of rough guest towels, each folded into four, one for use in hot water and one for cold. Apply the hot followed by the cold, five or six times, to bring a rush of circulation to the area, palpably beneficial.

Personally I vividly remember my treatment at Malvern. At 7.30am I made my way down to the utility room in the basement, which had been warmed by Mike's fan heater. There, the industrial type sinks I would fill, one with hot water, bliss, and one with ice cold tap water. Using a chair as a step, I would hoist myself up to sit first in the hot water and then - a difficult trick - arise and deposit myself in the cold. Several times. The resultant rush of circulation followed by Mike's deep tissue massage produced a sense of well being which enabled me to enjoy the day in that beautiful countryside.

However, let's remember that every exercise session at Kingston left time at the end for a full relaxation.

It is this relaxation that I most value as a tool, albeit one that is not a T.N.C. monopoly. The physical relaxation recommended and practised by many other non-medical practitioners should enable mental and emotional relaxation to take over. Some find it easier to use their imagination to take a walk in a beautiful, secluded garden. My preferred scene is that of a mountain stream that romps down over stones and rock pools to the valley below. There it joins the river, which meanders gently through woods, pastures and water meadows, towards its delta and the sea, the sea calm but ever moving.

It is during such complete relaxation, surely, that the healing power can function unhindered; the mind and spirit reassuring the body of their faith in its power to heal.

We may not all be Wordsworths - to be laid asleep in body and become a living soul, but that power to relax, however achieved - through imagination, music - is the most valuable tool in the box.

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