Living His Art at Tao Living Arts - Dr. Camilo Sanchez, OMD, L.Ac.
Dec 16, 2008 05:52PM
An early pioneer of mind/body health once said, “Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn't you - all of the expectations, all of the beliefs - and becoming who you are.” Dr. Camilo Sanchez’s rich, personal journey for the ultimate truth has transformed him into an intuitive, compassionate healer who strives to heal patients from the inside out.
Sanchez enjoyed a normal childhood in BogotÂ·, Colombia, immersed in martial arts, soccer and track. When it came time to attend college, he was hesitant on what career path to pursue. He loved sports, but didn’t think he could make a decent living at physical education. Not wanting to be around sick people, he had no interest in medicine. At Andes University, he finally settled on literature and Western philosophy, biding time until he discovered what he really wanted to do with his life.
During his second year there, Sanchez pulled a yoga book off the shelf and instantly felt a deep connection to the material. “It felt like I could have written it myself. I studied Western philosophy but felt that it was just an intellectual theory and something was missing. The system of yoga offered a way to live life and had practical applications,” he recalls.
Sanchez began to fervently study various systems of yoga on his own during the next year. At the age of 20, his family moved to Miami and he reluctantly joined them. He learned to speak English and worked part time, but filled his spare time studying Eastern philosophy and yoga. His attraction to this ancient Hindu practice designed to facilitate enlightenment had a profound effect on him. “After 8 months I felt a strong pull to visit India to see if all I had learned was true,” he says. “I selected three masters that I wanted to meet.”
With only a map and the ashram addresses, he showed up at the first master’s ashram in Puri, Bengal state. He was eager to meet the 80-year old yogi who introduced him to Kriya yoga, a practice that highlights the relationship between life energy and the mind to reach higher states of consciousness. After six weeks, his guru advised Sanchez to relocate to the Sivananda Ashram, a beautiful sanctuary in the Himalayas where the Ganges flowed. Ironically, the master there was the second on his list to meet. Eventually Sanchez was directed to The Bihar School of Yoga in Munger at the Satyananda Ashram, where the yogi who was to become his Guru resided.
During his time there, his introduction to healing ignited a spark in him. The Yoga Therapy Department was doing research on Yoga Health Management. “People with chronic disease would come and stay at the ashram for 6 weeks and experience a healthy lifestyle…being in nature, no distractions, eating clean food, and practicing yoga daily. People learned to detoxify and purify the organ systems of the body through Hatha Yoga. I still use this practice today; it is very effective,” says Sanchez.
After eighteen months, Sanchez was sent back to Colombia to help build an ashram. Eager to pursue other interests, he no longer desired to live the life of a monk and retreated deep into the mountains of Colombia to begin a deep meditation practice in solace.
Within the year he spent there, he was introduced to a woman who had paralyzing rheumatoid arthritis. Remembering his Yoga Therapy basics, he began to treat her. “I dried mud and made a fine powder of it. I mixed it with hot water and made a paste to draw the acids out her joints. I also did yoga nidra on her, a practice that induced a deep state of relaxation. Each day I massaged her spine and she gradually developed a trust in me and in herself. After 6 months, she was able to walk again,” remembers Sanchez.
Word of this dramatic healing spread throughout the community and people started to come to him with various ailments. “It was then that I realized two things - that I wasn’t ready for intense meditation and that I didn’t have enough knowledge and experience to heal people. I wanted to assist people in improving their lives, but I just wasn’t ready,” Sanchez recollected.
It was during a meditation that the word acupuncture flashed in his mind and changed his life forever. Filled with curiosity, Sanchez left for BogotÂ· the next day to research it. “I didn’t understand acupuncture, but I was intrigued. It could treat so many things that I decided to learn it,” he said. His brother sent a brochure from a school in Miami and when he saw the photo of the teacher, he knew in an instant this man was the person he wanted to learn from.
In 1986, Sanchez moved to Miami and worked until he had just enough money for the course. “You don’t make any money as a monk,” he laughs. He immediately developed a mentoring relationship with his teacher, Dr. Richard Brown, a dynamic healer and tai chi master. He was fortunate to intern with him one on one. “I got to see the application of the principles. This is when I really learned about healing,” says Sanchez.
After four years of schooling, Sanchez graduated at the top of his class. "Through my training I understood the relationship between spirituality, state of mind and the physiology of the body. It was known, but never explained at the ashram - but in Chinese medicine, it became very apparent,” he says.
Sanchez‘s extensive study of tai chi under Dr. Brown also had a profound effect on him. “I learned the importance of alignment, relaxation and being rooted. After Dr. Brown repositioned me, I felt my whole body filled with a flow of internal energy. After that experience I stopped running, realizing that I didn’t have to run 6-10 miles each day to feel good.” He has passionately studied and taught Tai Chi ever since.
For the next seven years Sanchez was the main teacher at his alma mater, The Southeast Institute of Oriental Medicine in Miami. Later, he had successful practices in Florida and then Colorado but eventually moved to North Carolina in search of warmer weather and a green, lush environment similar to his native Colombia.
Sanchez’s thriving practice at Tao Living Arts is centered around his philosophy about healing. “In Chinese medicine and yoga we study the mind/body relationship and how they affect each other. Most diseases originate from certain imbalances in the mind, such as false perceptions of reality, emotional blockages or limiting beliefs. Unhealthy habits and ways of thinking manifest themselves on a cellular level in the body, creating physical symptoms. Symptoms are just signs of imbalance and are signals to investigate further. True healing is healing of the Consciousness,” he acknowledges.
Many practitioners believe that healing comes from something external, but Sanchez realizes that healing must take place on all levels. “Healing is developing a sense of being whole and established in yourself. It is the process of finding a deep connection to yourself which then extends outward. Only then can we develop a true appreciation for others and experience harmony with the world. I offer people education, tools and support so they can find that close relation to themselves that creates fulfillment and balance in their lives,” he states.
Linda LaSalle, a personal trainer, appreciates the dedication Sanchez offers his clients. After a shoulder injury two years ago, she became disgruntled with traditional medicine after seeing no results. She was pleasantly surprised with the care she received at Tao Living Arts. “Dr. Sanchez is gentle and patient and carefully listened to all that I had to say. After my first treatment I was so relaxed and felt better almost immediately. It has been over a year now and my shoulder is still pain-free. I feel confident referring my clients to him,” says LaSalle.
Chinese Medicine is based on the understanding that chronic diseases originate from energetic imbalances within the internal organ systems. “Oriental medicine is good at identifying imbalances in the body a long time before there is a serious problem. It is great preventative medicine,” Sanchez states. He offers four basic healing programs: Improving chronic health disorders, Elimination of pain conditions, Natural detoxification programs and Wellness and health promotion.
Sanchez uses an array of modalities to customize treatment for each individual. In addition to traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, he uses Chinese herbs and energetic therapies and also educates clients about detoxification, nutrition and life style. “I recommend Tai Chi and Qigong to almost everyone. These powerful healing practices build up and release blockages to the flow of vital life energy necessary for boosting the immune system and promoting self-healing.” he says.
Besides possessing knowledge and expertise, Sanchez believes it is important for him to maintain an optimum level of health to best serve his patients. “In my view, a healer must have two qualities. First he must understand the spiritual nature of disease. Second, a healer has to develop a certain quality or level of life energy that can positively influence the vitality of the patient.”â€ â€ â€
Sanchez’s spiritual journey has cultivated a deep wisdom that is reflected in his approach to healing. “I probably went to India to find a sense of meaning, inner peace and contentment in myself. We all have the same desires and take different paths to find them. Ultimately, many years later I found the sense of peace I was searching for within myself. Feeling happy and content doesn’t depend on the external. Outside experiences always bring you back to look at yourself in another way. My spirituality brought me to healing,” he concludes.