Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

MOA: Mokichi Okada Association-Wellness In a New/Old Way

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on December 5, 2011

The Mokichi Okada Association, , started in Japan in the 1930s to help people “live in harmony with nature.” There are three principles of the “Okada Wellness Program.”

1. Organic natural farms which produce healthy chemical-free foods for the community.

2. Art museums and therapies relating to the arts promote emotional and cultural wellness through increased contact with beauty.

3. Okada Purifying Therapy (OPT), a traditional Japanese healing art designed to strengthen the body’s natural healing processes and increase the kidney’s purifying function to eliminate toxins.

   Today, two residents and I, took part in all the above. We started our morning with OPT. We each had a volunteer meet us, ask us how our bodies were feeling and then they told us to lie down on our side while they were going to hold his/her hands over our bodies. Normally, this takes 50 minutes, but because we were limited on time, we got the thirty minute version, or fifteen minutes on our left side and then another fifteen minutes on the right side.  For a moment, the volunteer asked permission to touch us, and then they gently pressed in our kidney area and that felt very good. Mostly though, they did not touch us, but they stood over us, while we were instructed to close our eyes. I did not fall asleep, although I could imagine how one might. t was a wonderful experience, better than a nap. This volunteer (in her eighties, I was later told) was a soothing presence, although we hardly spoke to each other. I felt she cared about her work and that made me feel both important and relaxed. I would be happy to go back tomorrow.

   Then, we were escorted to the flower room, where another sweet elderly volunteer, told us to pick flowers out of a vase. She later explained that these flowers were from her garden. In broken English (she was Japanese) she taught us that by taking care of something pretty, we will feel pretty ourselves. She was right. We each picked a different flower and then chose a vase from an assortment that she laid out for us. When we went to put the flower in the vase, she reminded us that this flower is alive and so we must treat it in a gentle fashion. We should not shove it into the vase. The resident said “I failed.” That same resident took a second flower and put it in a second vase. The other resident accused her of trying to get extra credit. We were then told to take our flowers to the next activity as we needed to bond with the experience.

   Finally, we had a Japanese tea ceremony. Five of us sat around a wooden table, while one young Japanese woman prepared the tea. Our male middle-aged Japanese guide explained the intricacy of the ceremony. He reminded us that the ceremony creates a focus on the present where we can be together without distraction. He explained that a tea ceremony, by having certain rituals, creates an internal calmness. Many people come weekly, or even twice weekly, just for the ceremony because it helps them feel better. That makes sense to me. Rules and order and beauty, along with a particular focus, creates inner peace.

  Of course, my residents needed to know how patients (who they call participants, since the word patient suggests passivity) can access this center. Surprisingly, it is a pay what you want, meaning there are suggested fees, but participants can pay more or less. In other words, no cost barrier. “What about Spanish-speaking?” I ask, expecting them to look at me cross-eyed. “Oh, yes, we have Spanish-speaking staff.” Surprise! They then gave us plastic containers so we could take our flowers home. That was nice.

  This is a great resource for participants, those wishing to volunteer time or money, and for those looking to guide friends or family to a wellness opportunity. Spread the word.


MOA Wellness Center Los Angeles MOA Wellness Center LOS ANGELES
4533 S. Centinela Ave.,
Los Angeles, CA 90066
1-310-574-9900 1-310-574-9901



One Response to “MOA: Mokichi Okada Association-Wellness In a New/Old Way”

  1. CRISTINA said


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