Just as you are a unique individual in the universe, what you will need to heal is most likely unique to you. It will be some package of treatments, events, and people at a certain time and over time that will be the answer for you. And for that package to help you undergo the most lasting and complete healing, you will most likely need to make changes in how you live your life. Not superficial changes, not new diets or exercise programs. Real changes in your being.
To do so, you will have to leave your comfort zone of the familiar and the comfortable ways of being in some profound way. Outer changes might occur in your relationships, your job, your lifestyle, your habits, your living and working environment. But the inner changes will underlie the outer ones, and the inner movement will shift you in how you are in your world.
Changing the Context
You are expressing disease because you, as a dynamical system, are dysfunctional within the larger system/environment in which you live. Given your personal social, physical, and/or chemical environmental context, you are not being the best you that you can be.
If you can change the context – move to a new city or change jobs or get a divorce from a bad marriage, you might recover. But, if you can change yourself, you will recover. Sometimes the context will change as a part of the inner changes, sometimes not. What changes is how to relate to the world around you.
Maybe, though not many people can. More likely, some personalized package of care will help you make the changes and support you through them until they become an integral part of you.
To be sure, spontaneous healing does occur, as does healing from treatment with an isolated intervention, be it conventional or alternative. Miracles do occur, and some people get to stay the same and nonetheless give up their disease.
At the same time, in my practice I used to watch in amazement and sadness when dozens of patients with a chronic disease would flock to a particular treatment after word spread through their support network that one of their own had experienced a remarkable recovery from the “same” health problem during the treatment.
I never saw the others respond as miraculously or as well to the same treatment as did the one person for whom it appeared to make such a difference. It was as though that one person was poised and ready to respond, that the treatment somehow spoke to his or her condition in some unique, well-matched way.
The other patients were apparently not poised to respond to that treatment, and its language was unfortunately foreign to their conditions. I believe that the person with the miracle recovery did need the treatment they received at the time to experience their excellent outcome. It wasn’t a meaningless coincidence, but it may have been a meaningful synchronicity. The inner and outer circumstances were all set just right when the treatment arrived into his or her life. And the treatment arrived, because of the readiness of the person and the environmental context.
The point is that health care providers, healers, and treatments are external to you. Most of us need them to heal. However, they are a necessary but not sufficient element of the healing process. True healing must come from within, assisted and/or nurtured by the external help. At just the right moment.
In order to put together your personal treatment program in a way that will move you closer to inner readiness to heal and position, you to have an extraordinary healing response to the package of care you assemble. Your healing response depends upon what is in your dynamics and how stuck you are when dealing with a chronic disease.
The Disease Stuckness Quiz – What’s in Your Dynamics?
On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 = not true for me, and 5 = very true for me, rate yourself for each item below. Add up your scores when you are done.
1. I have had a chronic disease from early in life (before my mid-life years). ____
2. My biological parents and grandparents were sick with serious diseases much of their lives. ____
3. I am the kind of person who stays in an intimate relationship or a close friendship with someone even when it no longer nurtures me. ____
4. I find myself in repetitive patterns in at least one area of my life that seem to end badly for me again and again. ____
5. The kind of chronic disease(s) that I have developed affects my brain or nervous system, or another major organ. ____
6. I rarely catch colds or flu. ____
7. I must take at least one prescription drug regularly. ____
8. I feel that my life is in a rut. ____
9. It is hard for me to bounce back from setbacks or big changes in my life. ____
10. I have to stay in my current job for the money, the benefits, and/or the security.____
11. I need to do certain things as much as I can or I do not feel well (e.g., exercise, control my eating, swallow my anger – or vent my anger, get out – or stay home – more). ____
12. I should work harder – or, its opposite – I should take it easier. ____
TOTAL DISEASE STUCKNESS SCORE ____
The maximum score is 60. A score above 36 suggests significant amounts of stuckness. The higher your score, the more stuck you are likely to be in your chronic disease – and your life, of which the mental, emotional, or physical disease is one major manifestation.
Feeling a need or having to do – or not do – something most of the time limits your freedom. A lower disease stuckness score suggests that the right individualized treatments will move you along more readily and perhaps faster than someone with a higher score.
Do not despair, however – you can usually get unstuck no matter how high your score, unless you are in your final moments of this life. A higher score simply means that it may take more time and persistence from you to get free and stay free of your disease rut. And even when cure is not possible, people can and do heal, especially in their final moments of life.
Use your Disease Stuckness Quiz score as a general guide: (a) to help you set up the extent of your treatment program. The higher your score, the more likely it is that you will need a full program at multiple levels of the system to get yourself unstuck and sustain you in making lasting changes to heal. With a lower score, a simpler program with one modality may be sufficient; (b) to prepare you for how long it might take to see significant change.
The higher your score, the more likely it is that you will want to give each treatment option and yourself a longer period of time to heal, e.g., perhaps on the order of a year or more. With a lower score, the simpler program may produce good results in only a few months.
The dictionary defines intention in general as “a course of action that one intends to follow,” “an aim or objective.” Ironically, in conventional medicine, the word intention means “the process by which a wound heals.” In a much broader sense, for healing from chronic disease, setting the intention to heal is the overarching first step in creating your program and putting the healing process into motion.
In setting this type of intention, you are asking the universe, cosmic consciousness, or God – however you are most comfortable addressing the “highest” level of infinite reality – to help you achieve the goal of healing.
Setting Your Intention to Heal is the Core Step
A recent survey of CAM use in the U.S. found that prayer for health was the most widely-used form of “CAM” in the previous year (43% prayed for their own health; 24% received prayers by others for their own health). You can consider this step to be praying or you can consider it setting your intention. This is a matter of labels with which you feel most comfortable. Whatever the label, setting your intention to heal is the core step of the overall plan.
It is up to the universe to figure out the details. You identify the goal, that is, healing. You may have some ideas about how you will start to go about operationalizing the steps along the way, and you will need to take those steps. When the intention is clear, the process will take over and lead you into whatever experiences, treatments, and people will ultimately be involved in your healing.
Make no assumptions that what or whoever is right for you now will remain right for you throughout the process. Remember, you are a dynamical being, ever-changing, expressing your free will in the context of a larger, a much larger environment.
No One Right Way to Set an Intention
There is no one right way to set an intention. It may be more common to do so in a quiet contemplative moment when you are fully present, without distractions of daily life. You may be alone or with someone you care about and who cares for you. For you, it may require a silent resolution, a statement out loud to yourself, a written diary entry, or a statement to a loved one.
What is important is to aim as globally as you can in setting the intention, i.e., that you are healing as a whole (not that just your body part is healing). As Larry Dossey, MD has said of prayer – Be Careful What You Pray For, You Just Might Get It. In this case, your goal is systemic healing, not just conventional medical local healing.
Play Big, Not Small
In other words, play big, not small. If you ask for small changes in body parts, you just might get those. If you ask for whole person healing as part of the Universe’s big picture, you just might get a transformation.
Setting an intention reflects clarity, simplicity, focus, largeness, love, determination, and positiveness. Bring together your feelings and your resolve in the moment of commitment to the intention.
Your intention is speaking to your deepest subconscious and unconscious mind and the larger non-local universal consciousness. Phrase the intention in a positive manner – that is, ”I am healing, I am whole at the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels of my being, for the highest and best good of all” (rather than saying, “I don’t have disease XYZ any more”). Aim for the most transcendent level with your intention.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Examining the Levels of Scale in Holistic Healing for People with Hypertension
Patient-Centered Care vs. Disease-Centered Care in High Blood Pressure
As we’ve discussed, in health care, our usual focus is the person level of organization. In conventional medicine, there is a perspective called “patient-centered care.” Patient-centered care, which concerns itself with the issues of who-has-the-disease, is distinguished from disease-centered care, which concerns itself with the issues of what-is-the-disease. In other words, the person is more important than his/her disease label. A person with high blood pressure or hypertension has a problem that manifests in the cardiovascular system. When the heart relaxes between beats, the pressure in the arteries does not fall back down into a normal healthy range.
Sometimes this elevated blood pressure comes from a stiffening of the the walls of the blood vessels. We also know that drinking too much caffeine, being under emotional stress, and many other factors can contribute to higher blood pressure.
Disease-centered thinking in conventional medicine revolves around the cellular and molecular level of scale. However, research has shown that many of us prefer to have a relationship with a provider who gives us patient-centered care in the sense that we are informed about our disease(s) and all of our treatment options and participate in decisions about how to proceed (rather than being told what to do).
Rather than focus just on the elevated blood pressure, which is risk factor for other health conditions such as heart disease and strokes, it is essential to look at the various levels of scale where the problem is showing up.
Organizational Levels of Scale
As said before, you are a system unto yourself, but you are made up of other systems at lower levels of organizational scale (e.g., circulatory system, immune system); and you are a part of still other systems at higher levels of organizational scale (e.g., families, communities, living creatures on earth).
* Higher Level of Organization: For a complex living system, each next higher level of organization has emergent properties, that is, behaviors that the higher level can generate, but that its component parts at a lower level cannot (a person has” behaviors” that a liver or heart by itself does not).
At the same time, there is a bidirectional feedback loop of information, from the global to the local level and back the other way. It is the feedback that allows the global (person level) and local (body parts level) to influence each other’s function, that is, to define your unique “you-ness.”
Levels of Scale from a Systems Perspective
Another way of understanding the holographic qualities of health and healing is to look at levels of scale from a systems perspective – true holism. Many systems, especially living systems, have a self-similarity or theme (also called “fractality”), at every level of scale. The self-similarity is a geometric concept, in which an object is irregular but similarly irregular at every degree of magnification, i.e., close up and far away.
In conventional anatomy, the self-similarity occurs in body parts such as different levels of organization of the bronchial tree. In complementary therapies, the self-similarity is not in physical structure so much as it is in patterns of function or dynamics (change). People can be in self-similar ruts of disease, just as they can be in ruts with relationships or jobs. The same idea is true for processes and functions – such as you, your body, and your health in your life.
Thus, under environmental stress (psychological or physical in nature), a person prone to asthma may experience an asthma attack. Their “rut” is responding with anxiety and asthma under certain environmental challenges. A different person might respond to the same environmental factors with irritability and a migraine attack.
You are literally “doing your own [unique] thing” in your world. And, in chronic illness, you are doing your own unhealthy thing over and over. The names and faces (specific content or details) may change from event to event, but the storyline repeats the same process through time.