The Healer Within

 

When you think of the word “Healer,” what comes to mind? Someone in a white coat? A shaman? Or maybe something in between?

I am guessing though, that whatever your image or definition is, it is likely, not you. That for most of us that word conjures up someone else. Something outside of you. Someone more knowledgeable and more expert than you.

When I looked up the etymology of the word “heal,” it comes from the Old English. The definition, in the exact order it was given in, goes like this: Cure. Save. Make whole. With a “healer” being one who heals. 

In other words, a healer is one who cures, saves, or makes whole.

A lot is revealed in the order of the wording in the definition as we go from cure, to save, to make whole. I think the order speaks directly to where we are in our own healing evolution; both individually and collectively. As in, when we believe that health is about curing and saving as opposed to making whole, we find ourselves in a more primitive (dare I say outdated) evolutionary model of health and healing.

Personally, I believe that there is an essential distinction that needs to be made by more of us if we are to make the necessary evolutionary leap beyond the illness model we now subscribe to and into a greater and vaster possibility.

Without using being cured or saved as the litmus test, what might happen if more of us began to see what health is, and how we heal from a more advanced perspective?

We know all too well, having done it for far too long now, the experience of being cured, looking for a cure, feeling incurable, with all of the shame, frustration, and fear that goes along with this. We also know all too well its companion; outsourcing our authority to someone who “knows better.” Someone who can save us.

This place of looking to be cured by a savior is nowhere more prevalent than in our conventional medical system. But what if this paradigm is incorrect in terms of where the real healing resides? And what if healing is about so much more than just health? 

These are enormous questions to contemplate. Even more challenging to put this mindset into practice. We are so conditioned to look for cures in the hands of someone other than our own. Which is why we need new ways of thinking about what healing is, and in whose hands it actually belongs.

If you’re up for it, try this: Spend some time in a quiet moment thinking about a challenging health issue in your life. If you could take the worry and the someone-else-knows better-than-I-do out of the equation, what would healing mean to you if it wasn’t about being cured or saved by someone else?

Specifically, what would healing look like, feel like, and yes, require from you, to make whole something about you and your life? An evolutionary shift that would help open you to the possibility of being your own Healer Within in the service of a greater experience of wholeness.

In my world, that would be a true advancement in modern medicine.

 

P.S. If you are wanting to explore more deeply your own Healer Within, please visit https://rememberingwhatmattersmost.thinkific.com/courses/membership

Embracing Obstacles

 

It’s not easy being in a body. There are so many sensations, pressures, thoughts, beliefs and experiences that go along with how we feel about our bodies, and what it means to inhabit them. That’s why it can feel preferable to “leave” them. Or let someone else be in charge of them.

It has become a socially condoned way of “living” to leave our bodies and what it is we are experiencing. Take my college students and the way that they “party.” The way they use drugs and alcohol to knock down the stress. To keep them from feeling what they don’t want to feel.

I know this place. All too well. It was how I lived for years. Partying, eating and exercising to excess and as punishment. Self-loathing and worthlessness arising out of the choices I was making. It was only when I began to feel how horrible what I was doing to myself felt, that I was able to shift. Only when I was willing to encounter the obstacles to good and fulfilling connection with my body did things, slowly and steadily, begin to change.

While incredibly difficult, excruciating and sad to come up against the obstacles that were keeping me from myself, it was real. Most of all, it was true. Obstacles are an absolutely unavoidable and essential part of the journey of being at home in our own body. So that’s where I began. With what was real by way of what was in between me and my body. In between me and my ability to be at home in myself. 

I know the current thinking is to get away from what feels bad. I would even go so far as to say that it is built into us as mammals to get away from what causes pain. That it is a necessary part of our survival and coping mechanisms to avoid what hurts. This life-giving tendency most certainly has its place. However, in modern day living where our pains are often self- and culturally-induced, with no connection whatsoever to real physical survival requirements, our wires have gotten crossed when it comes to avoidance. 

The basic, primal instinct of avoidance has gotten flipped on its head, and is now bringing harm rather than relief, while being met by a world all too happy to sell us things that keep us from ever having to feel what it is to be in our own bodies. 

Given the cultural mindset that says “Take this to get away from feeling what you are feeling in your body,” to hear that in order to be at home in yourself, you must go towards what you typically avoid, can sound paradoxical. Or even insane. But if we don’t include this part of embodiment, we’ll miss out on some of the most important information we need when it comes to the body and how it is that we are treating it. Not to mention that it is pure fantasy to try and avoid what we would rather not know. 

Acting as if something is not there, does not make it so.

It is only when we include what does not feel good, what is not working, what is keeping us from a good relationship with ourselves, can we see that what we’re doing is actually not working. Maybe even hurting. That any of the denying, diversions and medicating we’re engaging in, outweighs any “benefits” they may bring in the short-term. Worst of all, that what we’re choosing through our avoidance may actually become the impediment itself to healing what ails us.

In the end, keeping us from not only the health we desire, but the opportunity to know ourselves fully through the empowered journey of learning to trust and care for ourselves. 

 

The Words We Use

 

Our precision (not perfection) at naming the moment to moment and daily truths of life in a body, will determine how well we can respond to what it needs and what it is saying; which will determine the overall feel and quality of our lives. The words we choose about our bodies carry great weight. They shape the stories we tell ourselves, revealing powerful belief systems about how we really think about ourselves and the world.

The words reflect not only what we think is happening, but what we believe is possible in terms of health and healing. Most of all, the words we choose determine how we feel about these bodies of ours, and what it means to be alive.

When my mother was still living, we had this bit we would do. She would disparage some part of her body (the stomach that was never flat enough because of the four cesareans and one hysterectomy, the skin that was too loose because she was in her 80’s, her weight on any given day that she tracked repeatedly by daily weigh-ins on the bathroom scale), and I would look at her and tilt my head. To which she would respond, “Oh yeah, I’m not supposed to say that.” 

It was funny. And not. After years of us doing this bit together, although she had come to know that if she ran her body down in my presence I was going to challenge her, I don’t think she ever actually knew the extent of what she was doing to herself. I don’t think she ever allowed herself to feel the impact of maligning her body, sometimes even with great disgust at its inability to measure up to some externalized state of perfection. I don’t think she ever got it was her own self she was running down.  

I will say here to you what I said to her: Your body is listening, and the words you use about it hurt or heal. If this makes sense to you, practice being more mindful about the words you use in reference to your own body. When you catch yourself using hurtful words, say, “I’m sorry. I take that back.” 

If we use pejorative, fear-based, and negative phrases about our own bodies and what is happening for them, our ability to see clearly will be grossly obscured and misleading; rendering any “observations” we make, inaccurate. False. Potentially even detrimental in outcome because we have misnamed them. Meaning, we won’t be able to take good care of ourselves. 

Not only that, any ongoing negativity towards, and about our bodies, will have a detrimental impact on the overall experience of being alive. As in, it won’t feel good to be here. 

P.S. If you’d like to feel better in your body, consider joining my health and healing community at: https://rememberingwhatmattersmost.thinkific.com/courses/membership

 

A Manifesto

 

I am in the midst of exploring, very deeply, what health is. What supports it. What undermines it.

The deeper I go, the more I come to see that there are fundamental perspectives that must be embraced first. That before we can even decide what healthcare or medicine looks like for each of us, we must first develop a way of being in relationship with ourselves and all of Life that comes as close as we can to working with basic truths around what it actually takes to be healthy and to thrive.

Here is my attempt. Run it though your own system. What resonates? What challenges? Where could you begin?

 The Embodiment Manifesto:

A Revolutionary Commitment To Redefining How We Care For Ourselves

Mission: To explore what is possible when we learn how to recognize and honor real human needs, live according to life-affirming values, express the Truth of who and what we are.

As Fully Sovereign & Embodied Beings, We Believe That:

  • Who we are and how we live matters.
  • Our health is our own responsibility.
  • The single greatest contribution we will ever make to the world is how we take care of ourselves.
  • Honoring real human needs is the basis for how we know and care for ourselves.
  • Self-Care is built-in.
  • Everything is Connected.
  • The body is Intelligent & any signs or symptoms we experience are worthy of our attention.
  • Claiming bodily sovereignty is a healthy act.
  • Valuing our own life is valuing all Life. 
  • Good Medicine is always in the hands of the people: For the people, by the people, and of the people.

 

Breaking Open

 

I think a lot about the body. More to the point, I spend a lot of time with my body, and with the bodies of others exploring what they need. What it is that we cannot do without. And what it is that we should learn to do without.

What both fascinates, and yes at times greatly frustrates me, are the signs and symptoms of a body out of balance. Mine or another’s. What it does when it’s sick or things hurt. All of the ways that the body conveys to us each and every day, what is working, and what is not.

In other words, the language of our very own body.

To be clear, this is a language. As a matter of fact, before we could talk, this was our very first, and only, language. It is not the same (although they do overlap) as the language of the mind. More to the point, we often get into trouble with the body because we allow the conditioned rational mind with all of its bodily hangups to run the show when it comes to what we’re experiencing: Yuch, what’s that? I don’t like this. That’s gross. I’m afraid. Make it stop. What if it never goes away? Make it go away. I hate you. I’m not listening. Shut up. I don’t want to know.

Sound familiar?

But what if the symptoms of your body are essential and vital information? And what if learning what message was being sent was a way into something beyond what you could even imagine?

I have this very experience over and over again in my life. Something comes up in the body that I’m not comfortable with, or that I flat out don’t want. Anger, frustration, and fear arise. But when the tantrum of the resistance to what is happening blows over, the feeling of injustice and despair passed, an inner surrender sweeps in. And always, always, some gift appears.

Beyond any of the specifics of what I am dealing with, and whether or not what is there goes away,  I am made whole again. The feelings of being at odds with myself vanish. Which is why I honor the language my body speaks. Even when I hate what it is saying.

Try this: In a quiet moment (for me it’s in bed or in my morning practice) let yourself recognize something in your body that doesn’t feel good. Put your hands there, and for a few breaths, just be with it. No forcing. No fixing. No looking for an answer.

When you feel more settled, ask yourself, “What do you want me to know?”

Pause and wait without reaching out for the answer. Sometimes I get a memory, a song, or a flash of something I once read, or something someone once told me that is somehow related. Sometimes nothing comes. Or it shows up later in the day. No matter.

What always tells me though that I’m onto something is when I burst out crying. Or am deeply moved somehow. This used to freak me out. Now I know that whenever something breaks open, in the “brokenness,” I am made whole again. Exactly where I always wanted to be.

So how could I ever vilify how it is that the body gets me there?

 

Bedside Manner

 

I sometimes like to imagine what healing was like before we got so focused on machines, lawsuits, and pharmaceuticals. A time before your physician was more intent on getting the “right” codes into the laptop in the seven minutes they were allotted by the conglomerate, than actually being with you and getting to know you.

A time when the human body and the human soul was at the very center of the healing relationship. A time when we knew we were all connected, both within and without. A time when our physicians felt honored to be of service to us, instead of answering to the bottom line profit demands of a corporation.

A time when our healers were naturals at bedside manner.

That unique capacity to be with another human being; next to them, holding their hand, looking into their eyes, being with them as they made their journey through life. In both, as they say, in sickness and in health. What an honor to be privy to the deepest, realest and most raw experiences of another soul.

And now, what a devastating turnaround that it has gone missing. Only to be exchanged for not only poor substitutes, but for a form of “care” that is most decidedly devoid of care. Even at times, dangerous. What could possibly have replaced what we need most? Money incentives, efficiency, standard protocols, separate specializations, insurance codes, following the rules, and fear. Yes, fear.

Fear that they will miss something or make a mistake. Fear of being ostracized, sued or fired for stepping outside of SOP. Fear of getting too involved. Fear that they cannot help us. Perhaps worst of all, fear of their own humanity, and of showing that to us.

We need this. We need those in the healing profession to reclaim the human roots of their calling. Visionaries. Those with the courage to do less technically in the service of doing more healing wise. Those willing to break ranks with anything that violates their sacred obligation to us, and to what it is that actually heals.

Those willing to claim the power and the healing Presence of such quaint and outdated practices as the art and science of bedside manner: A genuine and authentic relationship built on care that transcends any agenda other than that.

Maybe this has never occurred in history. Maybe it’s pure fantasy on my part to believe in its existence. But this is what I yearn for: Medicine built on integrity, real care, and most of all, a healing relationship with a physician who trusts that connection above all else.

Essential Questioning

 

The single most important missing question in our current mainstream healthcare approach is: What is Health? When we start to break this down, several questions become obvious areas of exploration. As in, Where does Health come from? What supports it? What undermines it?

This type of inquiry has not been the domain of the average person (if there is even such a thing). Instead, we have outsourced this role to the “experts.” But this has come at a cost. For when we give over such a central aspect of our humanness, without our deep involvement, we forgo personal responsibility, and the wisdom of direct experience.

Without personal responsibility we become as children in the doctor-patient relationship; doing what we are told without question. Without the  connection to our own personal experience (as opposed to being a statistic), we become severed from the wisdom contained within our own bodies, minds, feelings, sensations and even, symptoms.

Our current “health” care system is broken. This is evidenced in the 3.8 trillion dollars we spend as a nation; twice as much as any other nation. Spending this amount of money would be well-served if we had health outcomes reflecting a healthy nation. This is not the case.

For while we spend more than any other nation, we do not have the best outcomes. In some cases, we are closer to the worst. More than 60% of us have at least one chronic condition. And everything from asthma to ADHD to depression, anxiety, obesity and more, are on the rise. But you don’t need me to tell you this. This is something you can see with your own eyes. If you so choose.

It is time to take back your own health. It is time to claim full status when it comes to taking care of yourself.

This is a big ask. The biggest ever. And yet, it is what is before us now. We are being asked to know ourselves beyond the outdated. Beyond what is broken. And yes, beyond what is harmful.

This requires learning to discover the preciousness of who and what you are as you begin a journey into discovering what health means to you. So, What Does Health Mean To You?

 

In Lockdown

 

Did you know that the brain wave states active when you are feeling threatened are different than when you are at peace? And that in the fear-based survival mind you lock onto a “me versus you” orientation towards others, while a primitive territorial aggression around scarcity arises?

Imagine now that millions, maybe even billions of us, because we are in such longstanding states of chronic stress, are walking around feeling threatened by others. As well as fiercely territorial over our capacity to get our own most basic needs for safety and security met. When you add it all up, do you know what you get?

Hell.

Here’s the real kicker. We can be making it all up in our own minds. We can literally be preparing for battle based on the thoughts we are keeping; with no imminent danger actually before us. And because the body believes everything that the mind says, it kicks into action, preparing to defend itself, by tightening up and getting ready for war.

The truth is, no one will ever do worse to us than what we do to ourselves in our own minds. If you are with me thus far, it only becomes the next logical step to see that the real make or break place when it comes to how it feels to be alive, is within our own minds. For the reality is, every moment of every day, we have a choice. Will we choose heaven? Or will we choose hell?

I see this being played out as my body continues to unwind from an injury, so does my mind. I am watching how long standing patterns of gripping and tensing, a kind of hanging on for dear life in my muscle patterns, are an expression of a survival mind. One so old that I had not noticed it at this level before. So old that the tension has become familiar to me. “Normal.” Expected. A way to structure myself. This is concerning, for to structure oneself around stress is to suffer.

And it is to cause suffering.

And yet, if there is anything that the time of Covid lockdowns and restrictions has taught me, it is that I have a choice. No matter what. No matter what the outer circumstances; whether that be mandates or a spasming back-my mind and the state of my nervous system is my own to decide. It is literally the one thing in my humanity that no one else can have. Or dictate.

I read something recently where an Indian sage is quoted as saying, “The will of God is not for weak people.” No kidding. This plays out for me as I see all of the ways that my mind can make up a threat in the world of restrictions, or in an unwelcome pain. But I will tell you something that I know deep inside my bones. When I can see that there is Something Greater at play in all of this, I know that to a person, we are all being given an opportunity to make a choice. Different than we have ever made before. And it is not for the weak, or the faint of heart.

I see it as being the chance to break with all of the hells we have created in our own minds, whatever that is for each of us, in order to open to what we all most yearn for. A kind of literal Heaven on Earth. For me, that looks and feels like a world where Life is honored. In all of its forms and expressions. And where violations against Life itself, are the things in lockdown.

If this feels resonant to you, then by extension, we must be willing to ask some very deep and penetrating questions of ourselves like, “Where in my daily routines have I made it “normal” to violate Life? Mine or another’s?”

The Future of Health

 

Not long ago, I saw a commercial which seems to sum up where we are, and where we are headed when it comes to health. Unless, that is, enough of us decide for something else. Something more True. More Real. More Life-affirming. More, well, human.

The commercial opens with the following tagline: “The future of health is on your wrist.” We are then shown a woman operating at warp speed in her life, while being continuously reminded by the device on her arm to “Relax.” Then it tells her to “Run.” Then “Swim.” Then do “Tae Kwon Do.” Then “Dance.” I watch in horror as she manically leaps from one instruction to the next; all directed by a tiny machine she is wearing on her arm.

If this weren’t so alarming, it would be funny. Saturday Night Live parody funny.

But it’s not funny. Not when we consider how many of us take health advice from people trying to sell us something, and whose mixed agenda includes delivering messages of “health and well-being” while bolstering their the bottom line by keeping us ever insecure and doubtful about our own ability to go it without them. It becomes even less funny when we break down the messages that are being taken up by viewers regarding what it means to be healthy. Images that are telling us that instructions from a piece of technology are what we need to be listening to. That somehow we will not know what we need, or what to do, and that it is best to outsource that knowing to something non-human.

In our infatuation with, and now indoctrination into, all things technological in order to stay healthy, we are losing the main and central ingredient to health and well-being. That being, it is built in and is predicated on a personal knowing born of experience and attention.The “knowing” of which I speak is inborn, and yet it requires both cultivation and protection. It does not take its cues from a commercial. Nor does it require a machine in order to stay well. In fact, the abdication of this personal knowing is what is at the heart of a deep and dangerous disconnect from the natural and healing wisdom of our bodies.

The future of health would do well to consider not only what is presently happening in health care, but to take a good, hard look at how it is that we have arrived in a place where so many of us are so sick and so disconnected from the most basic principles of how to care for a human body. For before we can talk about the future, we must weed out what is currently not working. What is outdated. Misleading. Harmful even.

Do you want to know what the real future of health is? IT IS YOU. It is your inner and personal knowing restored, trusted, and acted upon. And it is so, so basic. As basic as paying closer attention to yourself. For instance, how often do you see something advertised that is claiming to be able to improve your health, and that you jump at because you think either this will be easy, or because “they” must know better. Watch the impulse to outsource your health and well-being while getting into the habit of checking in with yourself, asking, “Is that really what a human being needs to be well, or am I being sold something?”

 

Self-Care 101

 

Look around, we have never had more information about taking care of ourselves. Eat healthier. Exercise. Get more sleep. Be grateful. Take time for yourself. Breathe. On and on it goes. And yet…we have never been sicker. Less happy. Less fulfilled. Less ourselves. Dare I say, less human.

What’s going on?

Mostly, when I talk to people, they will sheepishly admit, yes they know they need to do something. And they’ve tried. God, have they tried. And it will even seem like what they are doing is working, at least for a bit. But at some point, without fail, after some period of time, they find themselves back to where they started. In other words, back to ignoring themselves and denying what it is that they really need to do in order to take good care of themselves.

Sure, the world is distracting. And we are too busy. Yes, the corporations have now created a multi-billion dollar industry to keep us tied to them to feel like we are taking care of ourselves. Because without them, we wouldn’t know what we needed or what to do. But what if the real reason why we never get there is because we are running right past the obvious? Right past what we have all begun to forget. Or know how to access.

That being, that at its most basic and authentic, self-care is built in. Innate. Hardwired into the nervous system. Into every cell, organ and tissue layer. Think about it. What then? For if it is built in, that means we all already know how to do it. It means that even if we have strayed, even if we never got it through our upbringing and environment, it can never be lost to us. It also means that we, and no other, are the ultimate authority in terms of caring for ourselves, and that all practitioners, medical suggestions, edicts, trends, research and fads are never the real source of what it is that we need to be well. Can these things serve as potential support? Sure. The final word? Never.

How could it be any other way? Without the ability to care for ourselves, and with it the built in knowledge of “how-to,” there would be no human species. For without care, there is no Life. Sadly, if you look closely enough, “no Life” is just where we are hurtling towards as a species when you witness the rates of cancer, heart disease, debilitating depression and more. This is not bad luck, bad genes or just the way it is now. This is a result of an entire species turning its back on what is most natural to who we are; the ability to care for ourselves and others.

Maybe, we are at this point to finally remind us all that our health and well-being resides within, and that what we are seeing is the end point of hundreds of years of being pulled into a kind of inner blindness. Blinded to the absolute biological Truth that the Urge for Life to continue and to care for itself lives within. And can only be extinguished at death.