“Gentle Wind Project” Wafts into Ellsworth
ELLSWORTH — Veterans coping with battlefield injuries and post-traumatic stress are actively being courted by the Gentle Wind Project, a controversial, Maine-based “healing organization.”
Founded in 1983, and headquartered for many years in Blue Hill, the organization is now based in Kittery. For nearly 20 years, the project has been developing an array of “healing instruments,” claiming those who use them become calmer, stronger and more in control of their lives.
This “trauma card” distributed free to veterans who attended a Gentle Wind Project open house Saturday in Ellsworth is similar to one in the project’s online catalog that has a suggested “donation” price of $650. The project’s Web site claims “the technology available through the Gentle Wind Project comes from the spirit world, not the human world.”
One such instrument — the “healing puck” — resembles a hockey puck. The “Rod of Light” instrument is a clear, acrylic rod decorated with bands of color. Both instruments are described as being embedded with various combinations of herbs, salts, minerals and precious stones.
During a four-hour open house Saturday at the Ellsworth Holiday Inn, Mary Miller, the project’s co-director, helped distribute the latest version of an instrument called the “trauma card.”
Open house participants were asked specifically if they were military veterans. All veterans of any era, Miller said, are eligible to receive a trauma card without cost or donation, as a public service by GWP to those who have defended America through their military service.
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Miller said Saturday that trauma cards are being widely distributed to veterans and are widely used with patients at Veterans Affairs medical centers nationwide. The cards are particularly effective, she said, in treating chronic pain.
In a meeting room decorated with red, green and white “Happy Holidays” balloons, Miller and her staff greeted those who stopped by and offered them cider and cookies after stepping them through the 15-minute process of using the laminated, multicolored four-inch-by-six-inch card to treat stress.
That process involved locating and holding a dime-sized circle printed on the card between the thumb and index finger of the right hand for three minutes, with one finger on each side of the card. For the next 12 minutes those people holding the cards were told to place them between their hands, as if they were praying.
Instructions printed on the card suggest that the process be repeated in 24 hours, “if necessary.”
During one such exercise, Miller explained that each card contains trace amounts of herbs, minerals and salts. The ability of the card to alleviate stress, she said, remains under clinical study by researchers in New Zealand, Colorado and Wisconsin.
Because the trauma card, like other GWP instruments, is non-invasive, the only way the card could prove harmful to a user, Miller said, would be if it’s eaten.
Veterans who accepted cards in Ellsworth on Saturday were asked to provide their names, addresses and service numbers. Those who did were given a manila envelope containing a serial-numbered trauma card and a GWP certificate of authenticity embellished with an embossed gold seal.
Those attending the open house were offered copies of an essay by Miller titled “Healing the Wounds of Trauma.” They also were offered a two-page collection of testimonials from health professionals ranging from a Yale University physician to an “acupuncture physician” in Florida.
Miller also encouraged open house participants to visit GWP’s Web site for additional information (www.gentlewindproject.org). Those who do Web-based research into the project, she cautioned, are likely to encounter other Web sites that are critical of GWP, the efficacy of its healing instruments and the project’s motives.
While mentioning by name a Web site based in the United Kingdom, she made no mention of a site much closer to home: www.windofchanges.org. That site was created and is maintained by former GWP advocates Jim Bergin and Judy Garvey of Blue Hill, who were involved with the project for 17 years.