Actress Lindsay Wagner takes a holistic path
by Bruce Fessier
The Desert Sun
Thursday, 4th Nov, 2010
Photographer Michael Walton
You may know Lindsay Wagner as the patched-together heroine of TV's “The Bionic Woman.” But even before that 1970s series, she was an ardent advocate of holistic health.
Wagner, 61, will speak Saturday at a Palm Springs Women in Film & Television luncheon in La Quinta, where she's had a home for more than a year.
But she wasn't sure what to talk about because she's been more devoted to her holistic health studies for the past decade than her film and television career.
Wagner has devoted much of her time to working with convicted assailants in Los Angeles jails and conducting workshops with their families on how to awaken their human potential and heal emotional scars.
For her, finding ways to integrate body, mind and spirit can help anyone with their personal growth.
“That is what was going to keep me in balance while going through this strange and unnatural process of being a star and an icon,” Wagner said while eating a vegetarian meal at an El Paseo restaurant.
“It's a very strange life and I found that (while) working 12 to 18 hours a day, learning things like health and meditation and power naps and understanding those principles were very helpful to my health. On an emotional-psychological level, to have a spiritual path that was grounding and richening was so valuable to keep my sanity going.”
Wagner is of a protege of Dr. Gladys McGeary, one of the founders of the holistic health movement in the United States. McGeary ran the Edgar Cayce Outpatient Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz. and wrote “The Physician Within You.” Wagner once did promotion for McGeary and recently attended her 90th birthday celebration.
Wagner also is a student of the late William Hornaday, co-founder of the Church of Religious Science with the late Ernest Holmes. It was Hornaday who actually started Wagner on her holistic journey.
“I had a very bad case of ulcers when I was a kid, just before I turned 20,” she said. “UCLA was wanting to operate, but Dr. Hornaday and a colleague, who was a medical doctor (and) a practitioner of Science of Mind, came to me because Dr. Hornaday's secretary was my boyfriend's mother. They offered to help me if I wanted to possibly avoid the surgery. They taught me to meditate, they taught me self investigation, they put me on a severe fast (and) they taught me to do spiritual mind treatments, which is using the visualization of a healthy body with calling on the divine.”
After six weeks, her ulcers were gone, she said. She doesn't recommend that regimen without professional supervision because she ingested nothing but skim milk for six weeks while meditating.
But Wagner said she learned so much about her human potential that she decided to begin a lifetime study of Hornaday's philosophy of integrating the body, mind and spirit.
“By the time I started acting, I was already convinced,” she said. “I considered actually quitting the business at one point to become a homeopath.”
Listening to the body
Wagner actually practices several types of meditation. She sets aside at least an hour each morning for whatever technique she needs to balance herself — whether that means relaxing or re-energizing.
“When I'm talking about being balanced, I'm not talking about some horrible thing that happened to me yesterday,” she said. “(It's) everything from the toxins in our food and the toxins in the air we breathe. To have the chakra system - the energy system of the body - balanced, it's (about) going to the core. The core knows exactly what we need. In one moment we need more energy than we do at another. So to be connected to our core, that's a lifestyle that helps me have more energy when I need it and be calm when I don't need it all.”
Wagner, who has co-authored books on acupuncture and vegetarian food, supplements her diet and meditation with herbs and vitamins. She found primrose oil and Vitamin E helpful with the hot flashes associated with menopause. But she'd rather “listen to my body” than follow a strict regimen. She often discontinues using some supplements for a week or so.
The key to her holistic approach, she said, is “looking at the body and the mind and the spirit altogether. You can't eliminate any one of them. You have to be balanced to have the total healing.”
Wagner says she's more productive now than when she was younger because she can manage her energy better.
“I have learned through my life that the more grounded I am, the more energy I have to give to what I'm doing in the moment,” she said. “That's way less tiring and way less draining of energy, so I outlast a lot of kids, so to speak, when I'm doing the same type of thing. I'm using my energy much more efficiently."
“I feel better than I used to feel ever. There are some times I wish I had some of that excess energy, but, when I look at it, I wouldn't trade where I am today.”