Monday, March 26, 2007

Bodymind, Heal Thyself

This article appeared in the magazine Living Nutrition (now called Vibrance), which espouses the holistic health approach called Natural Hygiene. In the past, Natural Hygiene has been mostly focused on the physical aspects of health and healing, but it is now incorporating the aspects of consciousness--our thoughts and emotions.

"Living Nutrition" does not refer solely to the fresh raw fruits and vegetables that bring living energy to our physical bodies. As well, it refers to the words we use, the thoughts we think, spoken or silent. "Words are alive," wrote Emerson, "cut them and they bleed." Yes, words are alive, the energies of our thoughts attract corresponding energies, and our "mental diet" is as important as the food we chew (or eschew).

The science of quantum physics has discovered that "reality" is an illusion created by observation and/or consciousness. The double-blind procedure in scientific experimentation was developed as a result of the quantum understanding that there is no such thing as an observer who is completely independent of that which is observed; the expectations of the researcher have a definite outcome on the findings of the experiment. The same can be said of the person on the street, whose life, whether he knows it or not, is his own experiment.

The implications of this, where our health is concerned, should be clear. For example, a friend was telling me about her mother's recent surgery for her arthritis. She mentioned the slight arthritis she herself had in her knee; she was certain she was headed down the same path as her mother. When I told her that her expectations of this would only make it more likely that it would actually happen, because of the power of our thoughts and beliefs, she was unconvinced. She had, unfortunately, completely accepted both on conscious and subconscious levels that arthritis was an inevitable part of aging. The idea that we will deteriorate physically and mentally as we age is accepted by most people in our society, and by the same principle of belief and "reality" creation, most are proven right in their own experience.

It isn't easy to break through concepts and beliefs that have crystallized over time, but with patience, persistence, and a strong desire to change, it can be done. By changing our thoughts and beliefs from negative and destructive to positive and uplifting, we can bring about beneficial changes in ourselves and in our experience.

This doesn't mean that we're "to blame" for any of our experiences, which we've attracted to ourselves for a reason--perhaps simply so that we can recognize we want something different for ourselves. Ask yourself, "Why have I drawn this condition into my life?" (This can refer to any aspect of your experience.) For example, where a physical problem is concerned, we need to look within to discern the thought processes and beliefs behind the symptom(s), for without this understanding, we may simply exchange one dis-ease for another. Of course, this in no way precludes looking at our health practices, the factors of diet and exercise. An orientation to health should naturally be accompanied by a common-sense awareness of these factors–-an example of the Biblical wisdom, "Faith without works is dead."

We must also recognize that people often consciously or unconsciously choose to
be sick, for reasons of their own--witness the child who doesn't want to go to school, and in play-acting an illness, may find he can actually produce the symptoms. Similarly, many become sick to get love and attention, or to punish themselves, or simply to get some time out, some much-needed rest. Wordsworth's poem, "The World Is Too Much With Us," says it all. In this case, our challenge may be to create enough time and space for self-nurturing, in whatever way that works for us, so that we don't need illness as an escape hatch.

We shouldn't deny or fight any of our thoughts or feelings, but become aware of them nonjudgmentally, releasing them in whatever way we can. In the case of anger, for example, pummeling a pillow, or writing an angry letter and then throwing it away, can often dissipate our hostile energy. We hurt ourselves much more than the person we're mad at when we persist in nursing grievances, or when we hold a long-continued pattern of thinking negatively--although we can allow for the occasional "dark thought," like the occasional dietary lapse. True health involves paying attention to what is going on within us and what we are feeling on physical, mental and emotional levels.

Martin Seligman, Ph.D., in his book, Learned Optimism, describes the pessimistic and optimistic approaches to life, which he dubs "explanatory styles." He concludes that optimism is linked to better overall functioning, better health, and longevity, as compared to pessimism, which is linked to "learned helplessness," (a "what's-the-use" attitude based on past disappointments), self-blame, and, not surprisingly, depression. It's possible, however, with cognitive therapy, to change mental patterns from pessimism to optimism. Seligman describes a two-year study of forty patients with melanoma and colon cancer, in which it was shown that cognitive therapy, accompanied by relaxation training, was effective in boosting the immune system. T-cells went way up in these patients, and not at all in a control group.

Despite the evidence of such studies, many scientists and doctors cling to the materialist worldview. In the mechanistic approach of most allopathic medicine, the body is seen as an aggregate of parts, without taking into consideraton the workings of the whole or the influence of consciousness. Going to the other extreme, some systems of thought assert that the body is totally under the control of the mind, negating the importance of such things as diet and exercise.

The power of one's thoughts to influence the course of illness is graphically demonstrated in the well-known "placebo effect." One's belief in the agent of healing, which may be a simple sugar or bread pill, has the power to stimulate the healing processes of the body. An amazing example is related by Deepak Chopra in his book Quantum Health. Patients suffering from nausea were given a pill they were told was a powerful anti-nausea drug. The patients experienced relief from the pill, which actually was a nausea-inducing drug.

Most people have probably heard the old saw: "Every day, in every way, I am getting better, and better, and better." Don't dismiss the power of this seemingly innocuous statement! At the beginning of this century, Dr. Emile Coue, who originated the saying, prescribed it to his patients, advising them to repeat the words aloud five times a day. According to Dr. Paavo Airola, in his book Worldwide Secrets Of Staying Young, the prescription worked, as they did get better, and better, and better. Reportedly, thousands of people who used this method overcame a wide variety of illnesses.

I'd like to conclude this article with a true story of the healing powers of the mind. At age 22, Mitchell May suffered massive injuries in an accident. He was told by doctors that his right leg would have to be amputated, as they considered that it would never be usable again. The was extensive loss of bone and muscle, the nerve loss was, they said, impossible to regenerate, and the leg was dangerously infected. However, Mitchell, following his inner guidance despite incredible pain, refused to go that route. Doctors were so opposed to his decision, they nearly obtained a court order for an amputation.

A healer, Jack Gray, began working with Mitchell to reprogram his subconscious mind so that he would no longer feel pain from his injuries, thus enabling his body to focus its energies on healing. Soon, Mitchell found he could control whether or not he experienced pain. Jack also worked on opening him to his self-healing abilities.

What happened over the next few months was considered medically impossible: the missing bone, nerves, bone marrow, and most of the muscle in the leg regenerated. Ultimately, Mitchell was completely healed of his injuries.

Again, there are many facets to health and healing, and they all work together. Our mental diets are just one aspect of the whole. Raising our awareness in this area has a synergistic effect, naturally leading us to greater awareness of our needs in other areas, such as exercise, diet, breathing, and fulfillment of our highest goals and life purpose. But, to paraphrase a familiar saying: "A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single mental/emotional step."

"Every day, in every way..."

Friday, March 23, 2007

ECSTASY (not the drug)

Growing in my heart
is a flowering tree,
flowing love to all parts,
each nerve vibrates in me,
I feel a shaking,
no mistaking

I'm breaking through
all is new
Ecstasy shows me what is true.

Come here and hold me,
you know I love you,
sometimes I get lonely
and I don't know what to do,
I must not lose sight
of that living light,

plant the seeds
pull the weeds
on Ecstasy my garden feeds.

Always you inspire,
there's so much to see
as I'm climbing higher
your loving alchemy
transforms and creates,
opening the gates

of Ecstasy,
take a bow,
just allow
you can feel it now.

Whether we're together or apart
you'll hear my song of love,
you have a hold on my heart,
ring me up on telepathy,
sing with me,

comes to be

Ecstasy is you and me.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


After Christopher Reeve died a few years ago, I had a dream
wherein he was swimming past me in a river, his arms and body
moving smoothly and rhythmically through the water. He took no notice of me, completely
absorbed in the swim, and it strikes me now that it was like
a meditation in motion. My Psychic Dictionary lists
"classic symbol of God" as one of the meanings of "water"; also that "liquids are lifegiving
because they flow and move about, while lifeless things are still." In that dream,
I felt Reeve was reveling in his new-found sensations and movement, in the
flowing and moving about, after the enforced stillness of paralysis; he was
swimming in his Godhood, his Super Being.

If anyone deserves to experience this, he does.

About ten years ago, it was a great shock when I picked up the newspaper in a coffee house and saw Reeve's photo and the front-page report that he had been paralyzed
from the neck down in a horse riding accident,
and as I sat there, sipping my coffee, I began to ruminate on the
irony of this happening to the man who as an actor had been most
identified with Superman in the public mind.

This was not lost on the media or on the public; the
extremity of Reeve's condition, and his bravery in coping with it, led to
Time magazine's cover story, "Super Man," August 1996. Yet Reeve didn't
want to be stuck with that label or role: "It bothers me when people
say, `you played Superman, now you are Superman.' They mean well, but
they don't know what I go through in the middle of the night. I don't
know. I suppose that if part of the definition of Superman is that you
keep going even when you feel like shit, then I suppose I do
reasonably well."

I, for one, would agree with that view of Superman as a real person
with real struggles. Perhaps it's time we redefined the caped crusader: who
is the *real* Superman? And what affinities does he have with the man who
brought him to life on the screen for us all?

One of Superman's outstanding characteristics is his honesty, his
moral uprightness--as he said to Lois Lane: "I never lie." And,
reflecting on his past experience with the disabled, Reeve showed his
unusual integrity in his admission of the discomfort he had felt,
prior to his accident, visiting disabled fans in the hospital: "It was
heartbreaking...but you would always have to admit to that secret sigh
of relief as you close the door and go back to your own life. On the
way out, I would say, `Oh, thank God.' And now I'm on the other side
of the door. And I have to be the one to stay in the room and be the
one with the problem."

It is common to feel uncomfortable upon encountering differences in others,
because they challenge us to expand and
understand, to adapt, to see in them that human essence that we all
have in common, beyond appearances. This lesson is brought home
in a particularly forceful manner by finding ourselves "on the other side of the door."
If this can happen so easily, literally in an eye-blink, a strange somersault of a man, of fate--as in Reeve's case--what then does it mean to be "normal" or "disabled"--or "super"?
One of Reeve's nurses, a man named Juice, would tell him, "You are here for a
reason." He disagreed: "It was an accident. It just happened." But
as the saying goes, there are no accidents...

Reeve said that when he first learned the realities of his
condition, he felt that he was no longer a human
being. I'm sure he gained a broader perspective on this. It's been
said that there's really no such thing as a handicapped
person--there's only experience and growth. What may look like a
tragedy may be an opportunity for transcendence.

Many have difficulty seeing anything positive in disability,
and this is partly due to the Western view of life as a one-shot deal, the perception that death of the body is the end of a person. There is, however, much evidence for the continuity of life,
the survival of the spirit. A lawyer has even made a case for this, at . In this light, disability and other challenging experiences can be seen less as a bum rap and more as simply a learning process.

Which is not to say we shouldn't rise above our limitations insofar
as possible. "We're entitled to something more in life," said Reeve,
speaking for the spinal-injured and, perhaps unwittingly, for all
who are faced with limitations, which may well mean every single one of us.
And: "It's what you do after a disaster that gives it meaning."

In the Superman movies starring Reeve, he is often depicted as a
Christ-like or godlike being, as in the words of Superman's father
Jor-El to his son, who he named Kal-El: "It is now time for you to rejoin your new world,
and to serve its collective humanity. Live as one of them, Kal-El, to
discover where your strength and power are hidden...they can be a
great people, Kal-El. They wish to be. They only lack the light to
show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I
have sent them only son." And the Daily Planet's news chief
to staffers: "Whichever one of you talks to him will have the most
important interview since God talked to Moses."

Superman, with his X-ray vision, ability to fly, courage, and
incredible strength (which could only be felled by Kryptonite--as a
disabled character in Iris P. Dart's novel When I Fall In Love
commented, the substance was "named after us"), does embody our
concept of what we see as godlike. But those abilities exist for each
of us, potentially, on an inner level. Just as the Bible's truth is
told in symbol and parable, so may the story of Superman be also.
Clark Kent becomes the nervous, inept persona
we perceive ourselves to be until we "take off" that garment and access our
true power; X-ray vision becomes the ability to see beyond appearances; flying
through the air becomes transcendence, rising above limitations; and
strength and courage may come down to the heroic unsung struggle:
" keep going even when you feel like shit..."

As Jor-El enjoined his son, Reeve lived as one of us,
discovering his hidden strength and power, showing us all that Super Beings do indeed come in many
different guises. And I'm sure Reeve, as he played his greatest role, would have echoed Superman when
thanked for delivering Lex Luthor and his sidekick to prison: "No, sir, don't thank me. We're all part of the same team."