This is the first in a three-part series.
All healing is self-healing.
What feeling does this statement elicit from you? Does it register as a vague recognition or a distant memory? Does it make sense, but you’re not sure how it applies to your own health in a practical way? If so, you’re not alone. Actually, this simple truth is highly subversive with regard to our health care industry, which works overtime to conceal it from us.
In general, standard medicine doesn’t trust a body’s ability to heal itself. So, it intervenes with medication to produce an effect. This effect usurps the body’s innate capability of self-regulation, which is analogous to wearing a breathing apparatus instead of presuming that our breath can operate on its own. Consequently, our system gets lazy and before long it relies exclusively on intervention instead of its own ability to monitor and heal itself. We unconsciously train our bodies to wait for this external stimulation in order to obtain relief from distress, instead of seeing to it ourselves.
All healing is self-healing. How do we lose track of a truth this profound? For starters, we human beings are predisposed to being easily conditioned and manipulated. This applies not only to our behavior, but to the very thoughts we allow to enter our awareness. This is not an aspect of human nature that we’re eager to own up to, but many of us are desperate to be told how to live our lives and health is one area in which our greatest fears and insecurities reside.
We get accustomed to intervention even before we can talk, in small, but powerful ways. The earlier the exposure starts, of course, the more ingrained is our belief in it. Baby aspirin, flintstones vitamins, Vapo-rub, antibiotics, vaccinations–these are just a few of the elements that cement the belief that we require external stimulation in order to heal or feel better.
The people we trust most in this world, our parents and family, are the first to deliver this message of powerlessness to us. Everyone means well, of course. It’s simply the trance we’ve fallen asleep in, and if we don’t ever feel compelled to question our conditioning then we simply pass it on down the line. If I’d had children as a younger man I would’ve done the same thing.
Our self-healing abilities atrophy just as a muscle that is not used shortens and weakens because it has no reason to maintain its full function. So do we enter a society in which we’re urged to seek help from the experts who are trained to intervene, and dissuaded from learning the language of our own bodies and minds.
We’re constantly cautioned to view our physical sensations, emotions, and feelings with suspicion and fear, instead of curiosity and patience. Our blanket perception of pain and discomfort as being undesirable and a sign that something is wrong is the best example of this. This practically guarantees a disconnection between our mind, emotions, and physical body by the time we’re young adults, and promotes the intervention-based model of health.
The pharmaceutical and health care industries ensure their survival and relevance by creating the very problem that they serve, that of molding “patients” who abdicate responsibility for their own well-being and line up obediently for their meds at Walgreen’s. Drug companies can get away with listing a medication’s endless fatal or near-fatal side effects, yet still sell a shitload of drugs because they wrote the manual on the intervention model of health. Many people feel that drugs are their only option, and gee, at least Big Pharma’s being honest about the side effects.
In addition, so-called experts apply disparaging labels to our ability to heal ourselves, such as “faith healing,” “witchcraft,” “placebo effect,” and “pseudoscience,” which plays into our embarrassment at being associated with fringe groups and “unscientific” perspectives. The collective effort to hide our power from ourselves is actually quite a well-oiled machine, and rarely receives the type of scrutiny that would engender a revolutionary alternative to the health care industry.
In this model, when we’re taught that certain functions are “involuntary,” such as breathing, heart rate, and digestion, we unfortunately take that to the extreme due to our conditioning by assuming that we have absolutely no influence over these functions. Our conditioning ensures that we’re constantly poised to avoid a direct confrontation with our mind-body, so we look for the language to justify the avoidance, and seek the medication that will replace our encounter with a scary involuntary function. So much for the spirit of adventure and exploration, to put it mildly.
Essentially, we have two choices of dealing with a symptom. We can drive it back below the threshold of our awareness (a suppressive approach) or we can participate with it (an expressive approach). With suppression a door is closed, and with expression a whole world opens up.
Most of what is typically described as healing occurs as the result of suppressive mechanisms. Painkillers and antidepressants are obvious examples, but any type of therapy can employ a suppressive approach. It is often a fear-based strategy, as we unconsciously fear to examine what is underneath the symptom.
Expressive healing describes the mechanism of self-healing, and views a symptom as an indication that something within us is asking for acknowledgement, most often trapped or repressed feelings and emotions. Relief or resolution occurs as the result of recognizing and giving expression to these underlying sources, because the symptom was only there to point us toward the deeper cause in the first place.
Next time: Part II, The Illusion of the Health Care Practitioner