A COMPREHENSIVE BIOGRAPHY OF LEWIS HARRISON THE PRESENT DIRECTOR OF THE NATURAL HEALING ACADEMY
Lewis Harrison, is the fifth and the current master teacher at the Natural Healing Academy – The Academy was founded in the late 1890s.
Lewis Harrison was born to middle class, Jewish parents of polish ancestry, in the Bronx in New York City. His father, Harold, was an entrepreneur selling home furnishings through a large network of Black Church’s in NYC. His mother, Dorothy, was trained as a dental hygienist and became a housewife after the birth of her daughter Lily and then Lewis six years later. With modest financial means, they lived a traditional life for the times, spending summers at a bungalow colony in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York.
There are a number of early influences in Harrison’s development as a practical philosopher.
• An introspective student with an intense curiosity for all things informational, Harrison spent long hours reading through encyclopedias and reference texts fascinated with the organization of information.
• Mixed with Harrison’s own fascination with information, specifically history was his mother’s passion for art and culture. Lewis spent weekend after weekend with her in the museums and concert halls of NYC taking in natural history, light opera, classical music, modern art, and Jewish history.
With regard to these “weekend adventures” Harrison once stated, “There was never any focus to it. It was just her passion for knowledge, art, and culture and her desire to share this with me that had us going from place to place. It was all so mysterious and exciting for me. One week it could be Gilbert and Sullivan and the next week the New York Botanical Gardens. We might explore the Shamanic practices of some aboriginal people at the Museum of Natural History and the next day go to a minor league hockey game at Madison Square Garden. ”
His father, Harold spent two years at the Julliard School of Music (where he studied violin). Harold spent considerable time in Harlem as well as at a resort in the Catskills, owned by Clayton ‘Peg Leg’ Bates (1907–1998) an Afro-American entertainer who owned and operated the first Black Country Club in Ulster County in the heart in the Catskill Mountains “Borscht Belt” of Jewish resorts. Harrison admired his father for his “out of the box thinking” and both his parents for their natural way of being fair and kind to others regardless of their race or disabilities.
By his own assessment, Harrison was socially inept, impatient, imaginative, and talkative to the extreme. He was a poor student in the traditional sense, though he filled most of his time reading voluminous amounts on a wide range of subjects. Early on, while still in high school, Lewis came across the book “The Wisdom of Insecurity” by Alan Watts and was given the book “Life Ahead” by Jidda Krishnamurti, a world-renowned writer and speaker on philosophical and spiritual subjects. Both books radically transformed his thinking and gave him a direction to focus his attention on – the concept of Self-Actualization.
After graduating from high school in 1969, he attended Sullivan County Community College where he met Vincent Collura, the local barber. Collura was a mystic with a vast knowledge on Shamanism, meditation, Plant Spirit Medicine, and Chinese and Indian Philosophy. He had been an influence for young people from around the country for years. An unpublished, virtually unknown wise man, he would take in troubled young people, help them reorganize their lives in powerful and positive ways and then send them out into the world to make a difference in some positive way. Many of Vincent’s mentees have gone on to become important teachers in their own right, among them Joseph Goldstein (born 1944) one of the first American vipassana meditation teachers and co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society (IMS).
Lewis continued to study and work with Vincent over the next ten years. He was greatly influenced by the 1971 book “Be Here Now” authored by Baba Ram Dass and “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” by Suzuki Roshi. The first book, filled with profound ideas on spirituality and elaborate and beautiful line drawings, pulled Lewis’ focus away from herbs and nutrition alone. It drew him into a spiritual inquiry into the nature of being and the role of the teacher in transforming the lives of their student’s. The second book gave him an appreciation for the role of simplicity and meditation in living life to the fullest. These two books book guided Lewis into studying mystic trends in Buddhism, Islam, Taoism, Judaism and other religious traditions as well as expanding his studies in nutrition, botanical medicine (Herbalism), and naturopathy.
The connection to naturopathy was an extension of Vincent’s relationship with Jesse Mercer Gehman, a past President of the American Naturopathic Association and a major force in naturopathic medicine in the 1930s through the 1950s. Dr. Gehman had been one of the senior students of Benedict Lust ND, the founder of Naturopathic medicine in the United States.
By the 1970s Lewis was making regular visits with Vincent to Dr. Gehman’s compound in Duncannon, Pennsylvania. He spent hours in the library studying the private notes and writings of Dr. Lust and the early pioneers of American Naturopathy including John Harvey Kellog MD and Henry Lindhlar MD.
Lewis’ integrated studies of mysticism, Eastern Religious philosophies, and various approaches to natural healing gave him a unique perspective on human potential and he hungered for more.
In 1972, Vincent began to introduce Lewis to important teachers and teachings including Scott Nearing (August 6, 1883 – August 24, 1983) an American conservationist, peace activist, educator, writer, and economist. He also re-introduced Lewis to Jiddu Krishnamurti (May 12, 1895 – February 17, 1986); whose book “Life Ahead” had been a major influence to him back in High School. Lewis had for some time had an interest in different forms of meditation. About this time Vincent also introduced Lewis to Sant Mat an East Indian based meditation technique and spiritual path. Lewis initially rejected this work focusing more on the ideas of Nearing and Krishnamurti. He later focused for a short time on the practice of Transcendental Meditation. The writings and teachings of the Sant Mat Gurus became of great interest to him and after a series of mystical experiences and shamanic dreams, caused him to become deeply involved in the spiritual teaching of the Sant Mat masters.
It was his meditation work with Vincent, his studies in Sant Mat, as well as his undergraduate studies in Philosophy at the State University of New York in Purchase that introduced him to mystic trends in Judaism (Kabbalah), Islam (Sufism), Christianity (Meister Eckhart), and the essential teachings and practices of Taoism and Shamanism.
Lewis’ formal studies at SUNY Purchase took place at the same times that he sought out and studied with important teachers of the day including: John Christopher in Herbology, Alan Jay and Pierre Pannetier in Polarity Therapy and Energy Medicine, Cranial Sacral Therapy, and Emotional Release Bodywork.
In 1974, still studying with Vincent Collura and continuing with his undergraduate studies, Lewis opened one of the first private practices in New York City as a Wellness Consultant. In this work he integrated traditional naturopathic techniques, nutrition, meditation, herbs, and movement reeducation creating a Holistic approach to client care. His friendship with Dr. Daniel J. Weiner, Psychologist and Marriage Family Therapist, helped facilitate this work. At the same time, Dr. Weiner was mentoring Lewis about the psychological elements of the healing process. Dr. Weiner’s work opened the door for Lewis to integrate action-oriented therapies using drama, music, art, dance, drama, yoga, and ritual into his work with his clients. The ritual elements of Dr. Weiner’s work became important for the expansion of the Shamanic work Lewis had done with Vincent Collura. Dr. Weiner’s approach to psychotherapy became the foundation for Lewis’ later work in Life Coaching and the creation of his Self Actualization system, “The Harrison Process.”
After completing his undergraduate work in Philosophy (1975), Lewis attended what is now the Swedish Institute College (School of Massage Therapy) in NYC where he studied massage, Asian Bodywork Systems, and Shiatsu.
All during this time Harrison continued to explore wide-ranging ideas related to philosophy, personal growth and healing. He focused on the language theories of the Austrian Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, the integration of eastern and western ideas of physicist Fritjof Capra and the energy medicine concepts of the mystic physicians Randolph Stone and Rudolph Steiner.
In 1983 Harrison’s first book was published, “Massageworks” co-authored with Elinor Bowles and other writers, this work presented a merging of traditional Swedish Massage with fundamental concepts of nutrition and energy medicine.
From the very beginning of his studies with Vincent Collura in the early 1970s, Lewis taught classes and courses related to nutrition, herbs, massage, and energy medicine. Over the years Lewis remained close to Vincent Collura and continued to study the naturopathic concepts passed down from Dr. Lust to Dr. Gehman and on to Vincent Collura.
With Dr. Gehman’s passing in 1977, Lewis refocused his studies with Vincent. Through vegetarian activist circles, he became friendly with Helen Knothe Nearing (1904-1995) the wife of Scott Nearing and someone who in the earlier part of her life had been close friends with both Jidda Krishnamurti and the anthropologist Joseph Campbell (according to biographies on both of these individuals). Lewis’ conversation with her ended up having a major impact on his perspective of sustainable agriculture and living close to the land.
In 1987 Lewis completed his second book, “Helping Yourself with Natural Healing” a work that integrated information on Aromatherapy, Bodywork, Vibrational healing, and Aromatherapy.
Lewis completed his third book, “Making Fats and Oils Work for You” in 1990 which was updated and republished as, “The Complete Fats and Oils Book” in 1996.
With the passing of Lewis’ spiritual teacher, Maharaj Charan Singh in 1990 and his Shamanic guide Vincent in 1994, Lewis’ work continued to expand. He developed an interest on quality of life issues and how and why people make certain choices rather than others. This led him to create a seminar “Make Choices, Not Excuses” and a talk radio show of the same name on WEVD (1050 AM) in NYC.
Lewis remained close with Vincent until the time of Vincent’s death in 1994. Just prior to that event, with Vincent’s consent, Lewis merged Vincent and Dr. Gehman’s work with his own and formed an educational center and school in New York City – The Academy of Natural Healing (www.chihealer.com). It was at this time that Lewis produced his fourth book, “30-Day Body Purification: How to Cleanse Your Inner Body and Experience the Joys of Toxin-Free Health.” Lewis acknowledged that he had created this book from the nutrition concepts he had learned from Vincent over the years, which for the most part focused on whole foods, vegetarianism, and various forms of fasting.
Looking to expand the work he had begun with the “Make Choices, Not Excuses” seminar, Lewis studied with Thomas J. Leonard (July 31, 1955 – February 11, 2003). Leonard is now considered a major contributor to the development of personal coaching and the life coaching profession and was the founder of the International Coach Federation. Lewis began to integrate what he learned from Thomas Leonard and this transformed his private wellness consulting practice into an Integrative Coaching practice that he linked with the Natural Healing Academy.
Soon after Vincent Collura’s death in 1994 and the completion of Lewis’ coaching studies with Thomas Leonard, Lewis began two major projects. The first was his involvement with the National Speakers’ Association (NSA), a professional association for speakers. It was through this group that he began to focus on the creative process, entrepreneurism, and the use of wealth, power, and influences for making a difference in the world. Lewis eventually became President of the Tri-State Chapter of NSA and Chairperson of The Wellness Professional Experts Group at the National Level. Through his association with NSA, Lewis became a noted motivational and inspiration speaker.
The second project was creating a book of spiritual teachings based on the meditation work he had done through Sat Mat and Maharaj Charan Singh where he was introduced to Taoism and the Tao Te Ching in 1973. This manual, “The Mystic Teaching of the Taoist Masters” was completed in 2008.
In 1998, Lewis married his wife Lilia and that same year he produced a combination autobiography and shamanic healing handbook entitled, “Hands-on-Healing: Massage for Total Health the Shaman’s Way.”
Over the next five years Lewis expanded his involvement with NSA teaching and speaking throughout the United States on human potential, spirituality, and natural healing.
As he continued to teach and write Lewis began to focus on creating and teaching a process that would harmoniously and naturally integrate the emotional, chemical, structural, and spiritual elements of the healing process. He resisted anything that appeared to be dogmatic, rigidly ideological, or appeared to reflect a knee jerk reactivity or resistance to the status quo. He was continuing on the track he had begun with his mother early on – an exploration in and the joy of ideas, knowledge, and culture.
In 2003 he produced his sixth book, “Master Your Metabolism,” a work focused on medical botany (herbs) and weight loss. That same year, through his association with the National Speakers Association, Lewis met Jack Canfield, the co-author of the hugely successful “Chicken Soup for The Soul,” a series of books and the star of the motivational human potential movie “The Secret.” Canfield wrote the introduction to Lewis’ seventh book, “Healing Depression Naturally,” (2004) an encyclopedic work on the non-pharmaceutical treatment of clinical depression.
Motivated by his association with Jack Canfield, Lewis began to reread some early classic books in the field of wealth building and motivational and inspirational thinking, particularly Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich.” He also worked with a number of teachers versed in hypnosis, shamanic trance work, lucid dreaming, and the application of subconscious influence in human relations. He was specifically interested in using these skills to create a more effective approach to professional coaching and take the work he had done with Thomas Leonard to the next level.
In 2004, based on his reading of “Think and Grow Rich,” and the entrepreneurial skills he had learned from his father and applied for three decades, Lewis created an economic system for the trading of non-cash, non-government issued currencies. Trading services such as time, space, information, influence and other people’s barterable goods and services for other similar services, Lewis was able to codify business practices that had been previously conducted in an ineffective and chaotic atmosphere. He produced a manual on his theories, “Wealth Without Cash: Barter, Reciprocal Trade, and Alternative Economics.” Soon afterwards he formed company for the large scale trading of good and services named, “Kingdom of Barter.” In 2006 this company was accepted as a member of the International Barter Alliance, an association of Barter Brokerage Companies.
Having created a successful career as a naturopathic consultant and motivated by the completion of the book, “Healing Depression Naturally” and the barter manual, “Wealth Without Cash,” Lewis created a school to train professional Life and Wealth Coaches in 2006 called the Institute for Ultimate Coaching.
In this same year, Lewis and a number of colleagues from other schools of alternative and complementary medicine created a not-for-profit professional trade association for wellness and healing professionals based on the National Speakers Association model. This organization, “The International Association of Healing Professionals (Prohealer.org) offers professional certification, produces tele-seminars, and business based educational programs for the professional healing community.
While focusing on coaching, speaking, and writing, Lewis continued his work at the Academy of Natural Healing and in 2006 was elected to the Board of Directors of the American Polarity Therapy Association.
In 2007 Lewis and his wife Lilia purchased a 7,500 square foot facility in Delaware County, New York and created, “The Harrison Center” to serve as an umbrella organization to support all Lewis’ schools, projects, and companies. The Harrison Center includes a Bed and Breakfast, a “Spa of the Mind”, and a Residential Center for Programs at the Academy.
At the present time Lewis is completing a manual on the application of Game Theory to human potential and the transformational process, “Lewis Harrison’s Applied Game Theory.”
Lewis Harrison’s Applied Game Theory is an on-going work-in-progress. It is a structured and systematic integration of Lewis’ teachings and writings in business, shamanism, the visionary process, alternative medicine, spirituality, sexuality, human potential and personal development.
Lewis Harrison’s Applied Game Theory currently consists of over 500 different dialogues and conversations. These form a course of study incorporating ideas drawn from mathematics, the social sciences, the arts, various mystic traditions, traditional philosophy and his fifteen-year, personal journey as a shaman’s apprentice.
To learn more about “Lewis Harrison’s Applied Game Theory” go to www.RealUGuru.com on the web.