Tag Archives: disease

Your Pet Has Something to Tell You

Even if our pet is a valued member of the family, we still tend to think of it as having a life independent from our own, unsullied by human foibles and driven by simple motivations such as food, good napping spots, and a friendly slap on the ass. However, largely unbeknownst to us our pets are enmeshed in our lives in an intimate and codependent manner apart from our affectionate attachment toward them.

Before we go any further, we need to trot out the well-worn yet frequently ignored principle that we are both individual articulations of consciousness as well as inseparable elements of a unified field. Hence, we are simultaneously having an experience that we describe as my life as well as one in which we are unknowingly influencing the lives of others simply by being in their presence.

Our lack of awareness regarding this latter, hidden dynamic reflects our resistance to seeing ourselves in an honest light. Because of our frequent collective inability to stay grounded and vulnerable, most human interactions end up being exercises in avoidance, suppression, compensation, sidestepping, projection, sleepwalking, and any other euphemism we can muster for checking out. Deep down we desire wholeness, but are so relentlessly programmed to fear it that separation is our default mode.

By “separation,” I’m referring to the fragmentation of a fundamentally whole event—a human being—into a collection of components that rarely communicate with each other, if at all. And so we move through out lives as a motley assembly of selves: emotional, psychological, spiritual, intellectual, body, heart, soul, psyche, etc. Because this model is drilled into us right out of the birth canal, it occurs to us as the baseline condition of a human being, but is actually a form of brainwashing. Separation results in repressed feelings and emotions, accepting fear as a way of life, and physical symptoms. In short, it is the ultimate source of our pain and suffering.

If it occurs to us at some point in our lives that operating within this framework dramatically limits our creativity, capacity to feel, ability to love and empathize, then our life may take a turn to recover some of our lost wholeness.

Enter the pet, the unwitting arbiter of wholeness and barometer for the level of suppression/repression in a given situation. The animal’s natural state of wholeness magnetizes to it the destabilizing element of separation created by the ungrounded humans in the vicinity.

The pet takes on these disowned parts of ourselves and mirrors them back to us. At the individual level we are hiding from ourselves, and at the unified field level we are attempting to reveal our inner state to ourselves through an agent that we regard as separate from us (our pet). We could not make this more convoluted if we tried.

The pet’s role is analogous to the way a lightning rod stabilizes the erratic and chaotic nature of lightning. Unacknowledged feelings and emotions can easily be described as chaotic and erratic in their own right, as they have a sabotaging effect on our lives.

Another way to frame this phenomenon is through the conservation of energy within a system: If one element is not openly demonstrating its entirety then whatever is suppressed will find a way to express through another element in the system. The energy of suppressed emotion is not destroyed through its suppression; it simply finds another avenue by which to surface.

This is by no means a tidy or seamless means of achieving homeostatis, as it requires a sacrifice to cobble together the best possible representation of wholeness as the setting will allow. The animal’s presence provides the opportunity for some semblance of wholeness to be demonstrated in the midst of the separation inherent in human interaction, an attempt at psychic damage control via self-sacrifice.

The sacrifices of a present-day pet are subtler than back in the day when people sacrificed animals to appease or please the gods because they instinctively knew that animals were naturally grounded and a more stable connection to a higher source. However, short of its death, the toll on the pet can be enormous in terms of physical ailments, baseline stress level, and emotional suffering.  (And, I’ve seen the price be death as well.)

This is why the notion of a service animal to assist in emotional and psychological rehabilitation is a lethal redundancy, because the animal is already performing this role by its very nature and we just aren’t aware of it. When we apply the label of service animal we are asking it to perform double duty, adding a level of conscripted empathy to its already formidable task of navigating typical human behavior.

In addition, if the owner who is recovering from trauma does not take responsibility for his/her own healing process, then the trauma will likely be transferred to the animal, resulting in a cycle of displaced repressed emotion by the owner and acceptance of abuse on the part of the animal.

No one is really innocent or guilty: this is a production that runs itself by virtue of our resistance to consciously participating with it, which would require a level of personal responsibility that we are rarely willing to approach. Besides, there are no random events, so the fact that the animals have found themselves in their situation is part of their karmic blueprint.

We could easily substitute “pet” with “child,” “stomach (or any other organ),” because in the absence of an animal these will assume the same function of being a sacrifice to separation in the name of wholeness.

Here are a few recent examples I’ve encountered in my work:

1. A family gathering (always an emotional avoidance extravaganza) where two dogs were present. The dogs both became ill, one violently so, after they took on the anxiety, fears, and chronic digestive problems of a couple of family members.

2. A cat who took on her owner’s fear of aging, mortality, and menopause and manifested changes to her own reproductive organs to approximate her owner’s menopause as closely as possible.

3. A cat who became a conduit to express painful memories from Native American trauma embedded in the property, resulting in his becoming immbile and depressed.

4. A man who micromanaged his dog’s health regimen because of his fear that the dog would die and leave him alone, reflecting back to his mother’s death when he was a child. The dog, wanting to please and taking on his owner’s hidden fear of abandonment, manifested a chronic illness so that his owner could periodically “heal” him and feel that he was healing the loss of his mother.

The best thing we can do for our animals (or ourselves, children, or partner for that matter) is to maintain as honest a connection to our inner state as possible. This will relieve the pet, child, spouse, or organ system from shouldering the entire load of whole-making, in the event that we ourselves are the main source of separation in the environment. It requires venturing outside of separation, which is the mother of all comfort zones.

To do so, we have to overcome our resistance to being “the only one in the room” who is holding a grounded state. It requires vulnerability to feel our conflicting inner states and transcending our conditioning that regards vulnerability as presenting ourselves as fresh for the slaughter. Nothing could be further from the truth. Add to that our ingrained belief that we are incapable of acknowledging multiple contradictory mental and emotional perspectives without being a hypocrite, an insult of the highest order to our egos.

The more we are able to be present to the disordered, irrational nature of our inner life, the more we will be able to look our pets in the eyes and see ourselves, for better or worse.

Why Is It So Hard to Find Urgency? Part 2


This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, “The Art of Getting Out of the Way.”

3. Until we’re willing to experience the nature and extent of the pain we’re in, we have a limited perspective on our situation and how to find a way out of it. Urgency springs from a transfer of energy that occurs when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable to the pain underlying an habitual behavior or emotional state. The energy that was applied to suppressing the pain becomes available when we stop the suppression. It is a shift from a mental effort—suppression—to an effortless act—being vulnerable to our feelings.

That available energy is what we draw from to stay grounded and make a conscious decision to change an undesirable situation. Without that available energy, having a choice in the situation is in name only, because we will reflexively choose our conditioned, default behavior time and time again.

By the time we’re young adults, we’ve portioned out all almost all of our life force toward propping up a persona that we can live with and display to the public. Unfortunately, the script written for that persona is based on childhood adaptive strategies, traumas (real and perceived), borrowed beliefs, misinterpretations, fantasies, and false information. Besides making it very difficult to have a direct experience of what is right in front of us, it is our unwillingness to disassemble this web of misperceptions that stands between us and urgency.

In addition, episodes of illness and injury are woven into the story of our life and become associated with repressed emotions, such that a complete healing of the physical ailment requires revisiting the unresolved emotional component. We often fear what may lie on the other side of healing, because it will likely include the exposure of our hidden agendas around maintaining a certain degree of pain in our lives, and those agendas have to be sacrificed in order to achieve real healing.

In my 15 years in health care, I’ve watched clients (and myself) repeatedly choose chronic pain and illness—even death– over honest self-examination. We permit a depth of healing that corresponds to, but does not exceed, the degree of self-exposure that our ego can comfortably handle. In other words, the depth of our healing is directly proportional to how badly we want to know who we are and what motivates our behavior.

4. The mind leverages small discomforts to exert maximum control over our access to urgency. There is a whole universe of sensations and feelings that informs us about our emotional, psychological, and physical state at any given moment, but our mind dutifully chooses which ones to recognize and which ones to ignore and suppress based on the version of reality we’ve painstakingly assembled.

On cue, our mind-body produces mild, context-specific discomforts that signal the very tip of the pain we will have to confront in order to create change in our lives. However, these physical annoyances are not consciously acknowledged as heralding fear, rage, shame or whatever taboo emotion threatens us so profoundly. The more undefined the danger, the more the mind can keep us under its thumb. These discomforts and annoyances surface in that slippery interface between our everyday awareness and the unconscious, and may take many forms: jaw clenching, chest tightness, holding one’s breath, drowsiness, sour stomach, dizziness, and neck pain, to name just a few.

The discomfort’s message is a subtle, but powerful implication that whatever repressed emotions are uncovered will result in a worst-case scenario: death, destruction, public humiliation, or total loss of control. Until the repressed emotion is actually allowed expression, it is only indicated by this sensation-based signature of the repressed emotion.

Here’s an example. A man desperately wants to tell his father he loves him, but every time the thought occurs to him it is accompanied by a tightening of his throat. This has occurred so many times over the years that he no longer notices the discomfort, although without fail it has the effect of squelching the simple words, “Dad, I love you.” The throat tightening delivers the message that if he were to tell his father this simple fact, something bad will happen. It also masks the real reason he cannot say these words: a deep resentment for something that happened in childhood for which he’s never forgiven his father.

Not telling his father he loves him is the son’s way of withholding love in payment for that episode that happened so long ago. The underlying statement is, “I won’t tell you I love you until you admit that you were wrong.” The throat constriction is tied to the son’s inability to relinquish being right about the incident, and the trade-off is the loss of emotional connection to his father.

Since the son will not consciously admit to himself that he cannot let go of a petty grudge against the person who raised him, all that remains is the throat tightening to control his behavior. The end result is the son’s rationalization, “It just wasn’t the right time. I’ll tell him the next time I see him.” And urgency is successfully sidestepped yet again.

This is one of the mind’s primary methods of keeping us in our prison, both at the individual and collective levels. In this way, our past is always informing our present experience, and spontaneity, hence urgency, is kept at bay.

5. The mind may create a constant crisis state to avoid real urgency. This is a very successful strategy as evidenced by people who use rehab like a vacation home, make a hobby of attending multiple support groups, use permanent disability as a gravy train, or spend all their time putting out other people’s fires. If a person’s baseline state is to be in a crisis situation, how will he possibly be able to discern when he actually is in a crisis?

Hitting bottom for these people will be elusive, since bottom has become the norm. This phenomenon also attests to the extremely subjective nature of pain. Someone may, for instance, be willing to subject himself to the physical pain of heroin withdrawal, but not have the courage to confront the shame that fuels the addiction.

For someone to escape from this horrible trap, they have to recover a baseline experience of well-being, or at least neutrality. For someone who has lived her entire life in a crisis mode, this can be extremely threatening because feeling good has become such an alien experience and is not easily trusted.

If healing completely is too much of a threat to a victim identity, then the mind knows precisely where to draw the line to feel just well enough to keep the identity operational.

Wellness Briefs–“Medication Toxicity”

All of the conditions described in these posts are effectively treated with Pattern Release Energetics (PRE).


Do you ever wonder why pharmaceuticals have endless lists of possible serious side effects? One reason is because after our bodies have made maximum use of the medication and excreted as much of the excess as possible, whatever traces of it remain can get stored in a variety of tissues, including muscle, nerve, brain, and organ tissues. Residual medication can settle in these tissues indefinitely and create a toxic environment that can persist long after the medication has been discontinued. This toxicity can produce symptoms such as chronic muscle and joint pain, nerve pain (neuropathy), organ system dysfunction, allergies, headaches, and insomnia.

Chemotherapy meds, antibiotics, antidepressants, interferon, blood pressure medication, and blood thinners are just a few of the medications I’ve encountered stored in clients’ tissues and causing the previously mentioned symptoms. The mere fact that a person must be weaned off a medication already suggests that his or her system has become unnaturally accustomed to having the substance in its tissues, since it is considered risky to simply stop altogether. As with infections, stimulation of the lymph system with PRE encourages the body to release medication toxicity in a safe and efficient manner.

Unfortunately, medication is often used as a long-term treatment strategy which makes the body dependent, lazy, and unresponsive. Over time, this can result in the medication causing the very same symptoms that it was intended to eradicate. If you have symptoms whose origins no one has been able to trace, and you’ve been on a prolonged course of a medication at some point in your life, then medication toxicity should be considered as a possible source.

Wellness Briefs–“Infection Medley”

All of the conditions described in these posts are effectively treated with Pattern Release Energetics (PRE).


For both people and pets, multiple types of infections often occur concurrently. For example, an infection constellation composed of bacterial, viral, yeast, and fungal sources, or any combination of these, is common. If only the bacterial component is diagnosed and treated with antibiotics, it can obscure, and perpetuate, the other infectious elements. In fact, antibiotics can actually create the environment for these other infections to enter the scene in the first place.

The non-bacterial infections may mimic the symptoms of a bacterial infection, so it’s essential to know what exactly is present from the start, before the picture is muddied with any external stimuli. The dangers of indiscriminate use of antibiotics have been known for decades now, but it is still surprisingly rampant.

A grouping of different infections needs to be released layer by layer, in a specific sequence dictated by your mind-body. Otherwise, the healing is incomplete and encourages what is referred to as a “chronic, low-grade infection” or some such wording. Very often, there are emotional patterns that are being repressed in association with a particular infection layer, and these also need to be identified along with the infection type. Infections of any kind can be quickly cleared through activation of the lymph system with PRE, and people can easily be taught how to do this for themselves, as well.

The Intervention Fallacy: Part III, Freeing Yourself from the Cycle

This is the final installment of a three-part series.


[The approach to self-healing that I use in my Pattern Release Energetics work is described in detail in my e-book, “Activate Your Inner Physician,” available through amazon.com, but this post is intended to summarize the principles behind it.]

Breaking the habit of intervention and re-learning how to heal oneself is–pardon the cliché—simple, but not easy. The first step, of course, is to stop intervening or allowing others to intervene whenever you have an uncomfortable, disturbing, or unfamiliar sensation, pain, emotional reaction, or obsessive thought. This at least gives you a chance to discover what experience is being short-circuited with intervention. Most often it’s an encounter with hidden beliefs, repressed memories, and unexpressed emotions.

Since we’ve taught ourselves to fear this encounter, we need a strategy to replace our default response of suppression, and develop a different relationship to pain and discomfort. We start by restoring the lines of communication between our bodies, thoughts, feelings, and emotions. These lines of communication are silenced over time as we’re socially conditioned to regard a human being as a compartmentalized phenomenon.

I teach people breathing and grounding to create a foundation for reestablishing this communication and encouraging the mechanism of expressive healing. These two tools provide a means to stay anchored while focusing on the symptom you’ve chosen to explore. Then you rotate your attention between all the physical sensations and emotional components that accompany the symptom, which might be described as a voluntary embracing of chaos.

This causes a type of tension to surface caused by the mind raising its resistance to examining the deeper sources of the symptom. Allowing this tension to build while staying grounded erodes the false compartments between body, thought, emotion, and sensations, and enables a freer flow of information between the conscious mind, the hidden self, and the physical body. By simply choosing not to suppress this experience, you are harnessing the healing forces inside you and encouraging them to interact until a resolution occurs.

This may feel very foreign at first, because in American culture we’re generally encouraged to resolve tension as quickly as possible, regardless of the context. The creative possibilities that non-resolution of tension engenders are unimaginable to the conscious mind, whose agenda is to choose either black or white and then rigidly defend whatever it’s chosen. In expressive healing, black and white are allowed to occupy the same space until they work it out and a third possibility reveals itself: healing. Tension and chaos are essential elements in expressive healing, and they are precisely what are trampled on with a suppressive approach. This is not a logic that can be reproduced by the intellect.

Another way of describing this approach is that it’s a way to make yourself vulnerable to yourself. Until you can do that, making yourself vulnerable to anyone else is extremely difficult, if not impossible. Vulnerability–the willingness to feel–is necessary to access whatever is trying to get our attention through disease, illness, pain, or dysfunction.

We like to think of ourselves as feeling beings, but until we’re actually asked to feel we don’t realize how profoundly intellectualized our experience of life has become. We say all the time that we want to feel more alive, but are we willing to experience what that really feels like after a lifetime of being programmed into a narrow band of feeling and self-expression? It’s not a stretch to imagine, for example, that your personal experience of feeling more alive might get you a diagnosis of bipolar disorder from certain mental health professionals.

Becoming a more feeling person doesn’t mean having one’s emotions spill all over the place at the drop of a hat. It involves being able to sense and honestly evaluate one’s internal state at any given time. Am I angry? Am I jealous? Is alcohol destroying my liver? Do I get a headache every time I visit my sister? Have I fallen out of love with my husband? Do I hold my breath when I talk to my boss?

Recovering one’s self-healing abilities is a solitary pursuit, because you’re not going to find much support for it out there. There is an unceasing exposure to elements that reinforce the intervention model, and the degree to which society attempts to keep a lid on our fundamental ability to heal ourselves is daunting, to say the least. If you do pursue it with some commitment, you’ll realize more and more how our culture’s approach to living one’s life is about suppression in practically every context you can imagine.

The point of all this is not to skate through life in some pain-free state or “tidy things up” emotionally. That’s a big part of the problem to begin with since tidying up suggests that certain emotions are unacceptable. It’s to observe, feel, acknowledge, and express. It’s a way to become more aware of why we do what we do, think what we think, and how that makes us feel on both a physical and emotional level. We can take the initiative to begin unwinding ourselves right now, or go with the flow and wait until life beats the crap out of us yet again, or we wait for the wake-up call of an emergency level of crisis.


Separation in Health

The following is an excerpt from my e-book “Activate Your Inner Physician,” available at http://www.amazon.com.

Separation: The conscious mind’s attempt to maintain order by imposing artificial boundaries around aspects of mind and body. As a result we have the physical self, the emotional self, the psychological self, the spiritual self, etc. It is the opposite of movement and hence the opposite of healing. Pain and suffering are by-products of separation.

Our health care system is based on two falsehoods: that we will never die and that we’re entitled to a pain-free existence. When you create a model that denies two of the most fundamental truths of human existence, how can that not create separation of the highest order? And, if separation is what causes pain to be necessary in the first place, it follows that our accepted model of health actually sets the stage for pain and suffering.

We get funneled into various specialists who will treat the physical problem and one who will counsel you on the emotional and psychological issues, once again reinforcing in our minds that these are two unrelated problems. The linking of physical and emotional-psychological symptoms is often left up to the individual because very few practitioners will tell you that liver inflammation and repressed grief need to be treated as one event.

The multitude of diagnostic tests and procedures that grows daily is another reflection of this fractured perspective. A lab tech at the hospital is evaluating your blood glucose level while another tech across town at a private lab is testing the pH level of your urine. Talk about separation—your bodily fluids aren’t even in the same building!

One of the original Old English meanings of health is “whole.” The deep desire of the body-mind is to return to wholeness, and pain is the price for recognizing that we’re not whole. If health is meant to describe a whole experience, why can’t we talk about it without classifying it as “good” health or “poor” health, or applying a diagnosis to a feeling or a mental state?

Our conditioning to regard our minds and bodies as separate entities sets us up to become fodder for the health care machine. For example, our body has little opportunity to show us that it can heal an infection on its own, because we cannot hear the word infection without hearing the word “antibiotics” in the same breath. The mind will hold the infection in place until the actual physical proof of the antibiotic is presented to it in the form of a pill or an injection.

A good example of how separation permeates our language around health is how we regard a cancer diagnosis. The person is described as “battling cancer.” By definition, there has to be a winner and a loser in a battle. If the patient adopts this perspective, she has already compromised herself with this declaration of war, which is the equivalent to stating, “I am not my body and my body is the enemy.” How is she supposed to have compassion for an enemy that’s trying to kill her? Then she chooses a practitioner (her general in the battle against her disease), draws her line in the sand and goes to war against herself to eradicate the clues to her humanity.

If the patient survives and wins the battle, who or what exactly lost the battle? The standard answer would be, “Well, the cancer lost, of course!” On the contrary, the loser was more likely a deeper part of that person seeking attention–such as unexpressed regret or grief–and the only way to make itself known was through something as extreme as a life-threatening disease. It had otherwise run out of options. Since the mind will never equate cancer with our humanity this connection often goes unexamined. So, we congratulate the victor on avoiding yet another close call with self-recognition.

A woman’s breast cancer doesn’t heal because thousands of people are doing a 5K walk, which is just a gussied-up version of going to war. Who else marches but an army? Again, it’s an expression of separation. The only enemy to confront is in the mirror. Her healing, if it occurs, is a very private and unique event that cannot be marketed or branded, and if we want to help then we stay as neutral as possible about the disease.

Self-Mutilation or Preventive Health Care?

Sometimes the clearest demonstrations of human nature are played out in seemingly throwaway, tabloid-type stories. Like it or not, this is where America often hides its gold. Recently, Angelina Jolie revealed that she’d undergone a double mastectomy because she possessed a gene that has been identified as a carrier of breast cancer and wanted to give herself the best chance possible to beat the odds.

We make choices every day about our health and well-being with little or no effect on public perception. However, if I’m a well-respected, high-profile celebrity who elects to go public about my choices it pushes the discussion into a larger forum. Jolie is currently portrayed in the media as a compassionate humanitarian and consummate mom. Essentially, she is beyond reproach in an entertainment culture that usually eats celebrities for breakfast.

This perception of Jolie is important because it lends tacit legitimacy to her decisions and actions. Can you imagine what the public response would’ve been if the subject had been Pamela Anderson or Nikki Minaj, for instance? So, if I’m a teenage girl who idolizes Jolie, I could easily get the message that it’s okay to hate my body and totally disregard what it has to tell me about myself. Once again, we’re unable to view disease as anything but the enemy and not as a part of us that’s attempting to make itself heard. We don’t heal by making ourselves less whole, we heal by becoming more whole.

Whatever intelligence is driving a hereditary health pattern will find a way to express itself, even if in our arrogance we attempt to avoid its expression by divesting ourselves of a body part that hasn’t even shown any evidence of disease. We’re simply not in control here, folks.

Thankfully, Melissa Etheridge had the stones to publicly question whether this was a decision that Jolie made out of fear rather than courage. Considering the present atmosphere in this country, this statement couldn’t have come from a man. There have been so many instances of male conservative politicians making asinine, ignorant statements about women lately that the backlash would’ve been too intense to examine whether he actually had anything legitimate to say. The rush to Jolie’s defense would’ve been immediate, as the issue would’ve been polarized into a male vs. female context, and the subtler implications of the story would’ve been lost.

Rather, it took a woman like Etheridge who has healed from her own breast cancer and is not shy about discussing how it taught her a lot about herself to offer an alternative perspective. What about the courage it takes to actually communicate and participate with one’s body? How about the courage required to trust a process that our culture and health care system judges as a betrayal by the body? Etheridge’s story of recovery is the kind of experience that actually informs us about our humanity rather than reinforces an illusion of immortality and invincibility.

If you know you may have a predisposition toward a particular disease, then you’re in a unique and empowered position to watch whether your mind will manifest the disease or not, because in the end it’s our beliefs that determine our health. We blithely talk about “living in the present,” but this is one instance that genuinely requires it. But it is regarded as a curse and not a gift. And, by the way, all of us have a predisposition toward a terminal condition, and it’s called death.

A person cannot simply come out and say, “I’m going to have my breasts surgically removed because I’m afraid to die.” No, it has to be framed as a noble choice that requires “courage.” This story is all about our collective fear of death, but we shape the narrative in any other way possible, because any real discussion of death is too taboo. We’re trained early on in life to both fear death and to feel ashamed of acknowledging that fear. This leaves us no recourse but to talk around death in some manner that makes a pretense of confronting our mortality, but in reality goes only so far as to skirt any uncomfortable feelings. We all instinctively know where those boundaries lie. It’s a careful tightrope act that we perform around death and it goes largely unnoticed.

How much evidence do we need that one of the prices of inhabiting a physical body is witnessing its dissolution? Does this thrill me? Of course not, because I’ve been taught to fear death just as much as the next person. But it is a simple fact of life that presents itself on a daily basis. And, if we could begin to acknowledge the inevitability and practical reality of death on a culture-wide basis, it would profoundly transform our idea of health and our health care system.

James Rolwing, DC