I graduated from medical school in 1995, but it wasn’t until 2009, two years after I had quit my job as an OB/GYN and left the hospital to study mind-body medicine, psychoneuroimmunology, the placebo effect, shamanism, energy healing, and cutting edge trauma therapies, that I first read Bernie Siegel MD’s Love, Medicine and Miracles. When I looked at the publication date (1986), I felt ripped off. Why had this beautiful book about optimizing health outcomes for cancer patients not been required reading at my medical school? My father had been a doctor. I had degrees from Duke University, the University of South Florida, and Northwestern University. Why had I never even heard of what this Yale surgeon was teaching?
This bewildering moment of wondering what other powerful teachings I might have missed in my twelve year post-high school academic education fueled a 13 year exploration that led me to found the Whole Health Medicine Institute, a consciousness and healing certification program for doctors and others who are interested in mind-body-spirit healing. (We’re enrolling for the 2020 class now. Learn more here.) The education in this program includes not only how to facilitate the 6 Steps To Healing Yourself (the modified 6 steps will appear in the revised edition of Mind Over Medicine, which comes out this summer. The training doesn’t stop with what I’ve learned though. It also includes dozens of guest faculty, including Bernie Siegel, Rachel Naomi Remen, Gabor Mate, Christiane Northrup, Deepak Chopra, Kelly Turner, Joan Borysenko, Richard Schwartz, Alberto Villoldo, Bruce Lipton, Donna Eden, Dawson Church, and so many others in the world of Sacred Medicine, including new faculty this year like Thomas Hübl, Eric Pearl, Shiloh Sophia, and Lynne McTaggart.
It still confuses me why the cutting edge mind-body-spirit healing modalities taught by those who have helped me continue my medical education are still excluded from most medical schools. But in case you can’t join us in the Whole Health Medicine Institute this year, here are a few key points I think all medical schools should include in the curriculum for any physician-in-training.
1. Physical symptoms or a medical diagnosis may be a loving message from our unconditionally loving spiritual selves, trying to protect us.
While it may not seem “protective” to have painful or even life-threatening physical illness or pain, our bodies will do whatever it takes to get our attention if something is out of whack in our lives and we’re missing the subtler clues.
2. While we never consciously want to be sick, sometimes our illnesses or disabilities are helping us in ways we may not realize.
I try to steer clear of words like “secondary gain” because it implies malingering or intentional fraud—and that’s almost never what’s happening. But we may be getting core needs met by being sick—and as long as our illnesses are helping us get core needs met—like the need for love, attention, approval, security, validation, or an excuse to get out of things we’re too scared to do or don’t want to do—we may be unconsciously reluctant to allow ourselves to heal. (Note that this is entirely unconscious in most people! If you ask “do you want to heal?” they say “Hell yeah!” And it’s true. Parts of them do want to heal, but other, perhaps stronger parts, do not.)
3. Love heals. Community heals. Loneliness makes us sick.
Modern society has robbed us of the comforts of living as part of a connected, interdependent tribe. But we are creature animals who are tribal by nature. Illness is sometimes the side effect of how society has separated us from the healing that comes from safe, loving, intimate refuge among loved ones who can help us heal.
4. Earth carries healing frequencies that are necessary for optimal health.
Every surviving indigenous tribe has built into everyday life ceremonies and practices that put humans in direct contact with earth. Those of us who live in cities, wear rubber soled shoes, lack time in nature, and never get naked or barefoot on the ground are missing the opportunity to be entrained into the healing frequencies of earth that are available for anyone willing to take off your shoes and walk on a hiking trail or sit in a circle around a fire on the ground with loved ones who tell stories, sing, drum, and dance together.
5. Unhealed trauma lies at the root of many difficult-to-treat medical conditions.
While conventional medical treatments may save lives and alleviate symptoms, such treatments are often valuable but temporary Band-aids that fail to heal the blocks and disruptions in the body’s complex matrix of interlacing energies, predisposing people to recurrent disease. Even if one disease appears to be cured, often, another will erupt to take its place if these traumatic root causes are not identified and treated.
6. Some of the traumas that predispose us to illness don’t even belong to us.
We carry in our energy fields generational traumas that get passed down in our families virally. We carry collective traumas that we take on personally. We may even carry unhealed past life traumas for those of you who believe in such things. If conventional medicine isn’t working, you may need to dig deeper in order to clear what might be bunging up the flow of life force in your system.
7. Humans have been gifted the capacity to heal each other.
As if the Creator who made us wanted to offer us a precious gift, we all seem to have been given a priceless gift, one that Jesus was trying to show us all by healing the sick and feeding the hungry. Although I have yet to find a scientist who can fully explain how this happens or how to reproduce it, I have witnessed it happening, and you don’t have to be special to access this healing power. Anyone can do it, even skeptical graduate students, as my favorite nerd researcher William Bengston, PhD has been proving in his scientific research curing breast cancer in mice.
8. Health outliers are proactive.
Sometimes miracles seem to drop out of the sky as an unexpected Divine intervention. But more often than not, we humans do our part and then the Great Mystery might or might not do its part. As Kelly Turner teachers in Radical Remission (and her upcoming Radical Hope), people who have “radical remission” from Stage 4 cancer often make huge psycho-spiritual, as well as physical changes, to facilitate transformation, awakening, and healing psychologically, spiritually, and physically.
9. Letting go makes healing more likely than grasping for cure.
Yes, you can be proactive and empowered, making intuitively guided treatment choices for yourself, changing your diet, moving your body, treating your traumas, and otherwise writing the Prescription for yourself. But sometimes all the “doing” interferes with our capacity to surrender to the Great Mystery and just trust that whatever is most right may come to pass if only we relax our control freak parts and let what wants to come come, while letting what wants to go go. In a culture that values power and control as much as most of us do, it’s not easy to surrender, especially if you’re sick or suffering or have a life-threatening diagnosis. But time and time again, something truly transformational seems to happen if we can simply yield to what is and maybe even find a spark of radical gratitude for the gifts illness can offer us if we’re available to receive the gifts and learn the lessons.
10. Healing is full of paradoxes.
You can heal yourself, and you can’t do it alone. You’re responsible to your illness but not for your illness. Be proactive, and don’t try to control. The illness or symptoms that cause your suffering might also be protecting you (by helping you get a disability check or getting you out of visiting your toxic family or giving you a good excuse not to go after a dream and risk failure, for example). If we can move beyond either/or, black/white thinking and embrace the “yes/and” of healing, we can expand into a greater awareness of what makes us whole. If you or someone you know is a doctor, therapist, healer, coach, empowered patient, or otherwise interested in the aspects of healing you might have been exposed to, read Mind Over Medicine or check out the Whole Health Medicine Institute here, where we teach practitioners to facilitate the 6 Steps To Healing Yourself. We’re enrolling for the Class of 2020 now and would love to have you among us.
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