In my upcoming book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof  You Can Heal Yourself (Hay House, 2013) and in many recent blog posts such as this, this, and this, I talk a lot about the mind’s power to heal the body. But when you or a loved one is sick, how do you know when to employ the mind’s self-healing powers versus when to get thee to an emergency room lickety split?

Knowing how to integrate the mind’s healing powers into the world of conventional medicine can be tricky, so I wanted to lay out some guidelines. But first, a story…

When Grendel Couldn’t Heal Herself

As I wrote about in this post, Grendel the Mojo Pup recently fell off the bed. Initially, she picked herself up, brushed herself off, and went about her merry business. My six year old Siena has been intentionally brainwashed to believe she can heal herself and so can Grendel (those empowering positive beliefs downloaded into her subconscious mind will stay there for the rest of her life unless she consciously reprograms them, and I am very mindful that I want to make sure she knows how much power she has to heal herself, rather than programming her to believe she must always seek help outside herself.)  So, because of her programmed beliefs, after Grendel fell, Siena kept saying to her, “Grendel, you can heal yourself.”

Then, four days later, after Grendel had been progressively improving, she woke up severely short of breath.  As we were racing her to the vet ER, I was explaining to Siena that although I believe it’s almost always possible for the mind to heal the body, sometimes all of our best efforts to make this happen leave us still sick. And because we want to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to optimize our chances of getting well, especially when a life may be at risk, we often need to seek outside help.

The Million Dollar Question

Siena said, “But Mama, how do you know when it’s okay to heal yourself and when you need a doctor to do it for you?”

I told her sometimes you need to do both at the same time, and only after you’ve tried both and observed the outcome do you know the answer. It’s not worth putting Grendel’s – or anyone’s – life at risk just to test the power of the mind. Healing is not some competition to see who is more powerful – the doctor or the patient.  The goal is recovery from the illness, or at least amelioration of suffering, since sometimes, it’s part of our spiritual journey to experience illness or even death. Sometimes to get better, employing the power of the mind just isn’t enough.

The Full Court Press

Once we were at the veterinary ER, the veterinarians started doing their thing. Order Xrays. Insert IV. Push Lasix. Rub on nitroglycerine. Stick a needle in the heart to remove fluid from the pericardium. Do what doctors do.

In the end, it wasn’t enough. The veterinarians couldn’t heal Grendel any more than Grendel could. The same sometimes holds true for humans.  Sometimes we’re just supposed to stay sick – it’s part of our spiritual path here on this earth. Other times, it’s just our time to go. But as I sat on the other side of the doctor-patient relationship in that vet ER, I realized something very valuable about seeking medical attention outside the power of the mind, especially when it comes to medical emergencies.

The Value Of Doing Everything You Could

If I had kept Grendel home, instead of admitting her to the veterinary ER, the outcome would have been the same. Grendel would have died a tragic, premature death in my arms (and we would have saved thousands of dollars.) But had I made that choice, I might not have known that the outcome would be no different. I might have made up all these “what if” stories in my mind. What if Grendel’s respiratory distress was from something treatable like pneumonia? What if all she needed was a good cardiologist and some drugs to give her another few good years? What if a simple surgery could have saved her life?  What if withholding the full court press from her caused her to die a preventable death?

I know “what if’s” don’t serve anyone. But I try to live my life without regrets, and the minute I saw my pup sucking in the skin around her rib cage with each labored breath, I knew I wanted to be able to reassure myself, no matter what happened, that I had done everything I could to help my beloved pet, as long as it didn’t sacrifice her quality of life. (I was very clear that I would draw the line at anything that prolonged her life at the significant expense of her quality of life.)


Even though veterinary medicine did nothing to save Grendel, I have peace in my heart knowing that they tried, that we hit the limit of what modern medicine has to offer. It made me wonder how much of the true value of what we offer in human medicine rests in the same reassurance of knowing you did everything you could.

Think about most life-threatening illnesses. Yes, some people with cancer are cured with modern medicine. Others succumb to their cancer anyway, but those who sought treatment can at least rest assured that they maxed out everything technology has to offer. The same is true for people with heart disease and strokes and other big killers. Much of the time, we can’t cure these patients, but we can do what we can, and they, along with their loved ones, can breathe, knowing we did what we could, even if it often isn’t enough.

When To Heal Yourself, When To Go To The ER?

So how do you make the decision for yourself? When do you take measures to heal your mind with the hopes that the body will follow? When do you rush to the doctor and put your body in her hands?

Here’s my take on it all. Unless you’re a risk taker willing to live with the possible regret of “what if’s” that accompanies avoiding or denying medical treatment, go to the doctor. Find out your options. Do what you can to support your body biochemically so you can buy time for your mind to do its part. Tap into your Inner Pilot Light and get your own intuitive read on the best course of action for you. Then, if it’s aligned with your truth, get the surgery. Say yes to the chemo if the prognosis is good. Try the drug. See what happens.

Heal The Mind Simultaneously

But don’t stop there. Do the deeper work. Diagnose the real reason you might be sick. Get to the root of what could be underlying your illness. Ask yourself the tough questions. Be willing to stare your truth down. Be brave enough to make choices that align your actions with your truth. Otherwise, the surgery and drugs may help you recover from one condition, only to get sick from another because you haven’t really healed the real reason you’re sick.

I go into much more detail about how to heal the mind and with it, the body, in my upcoming book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself (Hay House, 2013), but until then, ask yourself the #1 most important question. What does my body need in order to heal? Be fearlessly honest with yourself. Listen up. That’s your Inner Pilot Light speaking.

What Do You Think?

I could write volumes about this subject, but I’ll stop here and let you take over. So please, I’m still learning. Share your thoughts. Teach me what you know. Let’s all explore this tricky subject together. I’ll be there in the comments to facilitate the dialogue, so let’s get down and dirty on this. Tell me what you think.

With love,

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  1. Erin

    Hi Lissa,

    I am so sorry for your loss. Something similar almost happened to me two weeks ago and I sympathize deeply. My beloved cat, Max (8 years old), wound up in the vet hospital in kidney failure… he was dying when I took him in. I have been battling big waves of terror ever since and when I read this post, it really hit home. Of course, in this case, it’s not healing myself that we’re talking about, but helping Max heal.

    Since I brought him home, I was told to give him subcutaneous fluids twice a day (300 ml total per day) to continue to flush his kidneys so we could see if there was any permanent damage. So far, all of his levels have returned to normal except the creatinine, which is almost back to normal. He goes back for another re-check in a few days, but this week has been confusing and difficult.

    My gut tells me that he’s healing on his own. His energy is so much better and he’s eating and drinking and very happy. But when I go to administer the fluids, he goes right into the fight or flight response… I can feel his little heart pounding and he is visibly fearful. It’s like his inner light dims. At this point, I can only get 50 ml into him at a time before he has fought his way free of my grasp and taken off to a hiding spot. (We’re in week #2 of home treatment. I was far more successful with the subQ fluids in week #1 and we saw continued drops in his kidney levels, which was fantastic.)

    He’s been receiving wonderful Reiki-Avesa treatments once a week and has shown incredible improvement since I brought him home from the hospital. I have such faith in alternative treatments when it comes to myself. I have healed myself time and again using many different techniques… these days I’m taking my vast knowledge of energy healing and applying it to principles of quantum physics. Healing the mind and the emotions all together, so that the body can heal! It’s very exciting. And yet, I find my faith floundering when it comes to my fur-baby, Max. I suppose it’s like you said, that you have to try everything so that you know. But if Max is telling me to cut it out with the western stuff and just give him love so he can self-heal, who am I not to listen? (He’s an incredible old soul of a cat and absolutely knows how to use his “inner healing”.)

    Maybe I’m not quite over that old belief that doctors are the absolute authority in medicine? I’m not sure, but in this instance, I’m afraid that if I don’t care for him “the right way”, that things will go awry. He’s made it clear that what he needs to heal is love. I guess I’ll be glad to get more bloodwork done, so we’ll know for sure if we need to continue employing western medicine and in what ways. You’re absolutely right, sometimes you need both, sometimes you need to know. Especially when it’s not yourself you’re healing.

    Thank you for facilitating this discussion. All this rambling I just did helped me set aside my fear and sort out my thoughts. I don’t think I will fully feel better until I have more scientific information about the situation (his bloodwork results), but I feel much more at peace with that than I did when I started writing.

  2. Deana

    You and your daughter and entire family are in my heart as you grieve Grendel. Thank you for entrusting us with your hurt. ((((hugs))))

  3. Lynne Hurd Bryant

    I think you have to do both. Traditional medicine has a place, but we can’t over state its place and believe in its “magic.” You can’t always heal yourself, however. I recently ignored a nasty UTI believing that enough cranberry juice and inner attention would fix it; it didn’t of course and I had a round of antibiotics that fixed me right up.

    Then again, I am proof that one CAN heal oneself by cleaning up “stinkin’ thinkin'” and believing that one can be well. I have had SLE for 19 years this summer. I came to a point in the last 6 years, since finally getting the official diagnosis, where I realized that traditional medicine had little to offer to me. I do, in fact, take a small dose of prednisone everyday which helps me feel better, better enough to start tackling my own stinkin’ thinkin’ and change my life. It didn’t happen overnight and I am not cured, but I have 100% of life and the things I want to accomplish better than 95% of the time. The butterfly rash will creep onto my cheeks on occasion, which I take to be a message to be more kind to myself, to have a good meal, some extra sleep and bubblebath, quit pushing back at life quite so hard, and reflect on my thought processes. The only frequent reminder that I was ever ill is the fact sunlight still gives me a terrible rash and a fever, but sunlight is in my control.

    I had to move from the place of “I have lupus” to “I have lupus, but it doesn’t have ME.” I also had to thank this illness and believe it was and is the greatest gift I have ever been given. I learned how to live, really live and value each day, each minute, and what I can do, not what I can’t. Lupus transformed me into someone different, a person I love and so thoroughly enjoy spending time with! Yes, it took a little bit of traditional medicine, but it was mostly healing myself. I don’t have perfection, but I’m a work in progress.

  4. Sarah Lawrence Hinson


    So looking forward to your book, even more so having read this post!

    This begs the question also for energy workers/practitioners…when do WE take ourselves to the Doc? In the past I’ve found myself judging moi as a failure when I’ve had to seek outside help, alternative or mainstream…then over time I realized that the help was simply part of my healing journey, both for myself and for others.

    Because reflexology helped me through a pregnancy, I learned it and now help others. Because I need my energy balanced more than most, Im now an energy balancing practitioner.

    Lovely post, sorry for your loss too – and Grendel was dearly loved.

    Hugs to all!

    A Mom On A Spiritual Journey!

  5. Cherie Seltzer

    Dear Lissa,

    I cried when I read your story about Grendel – just heartbreaking. I am SO sorry for your loss. My pets are my children; I could not love them any more, so I feel your pain. Thank you for your beautiful posts about this and ultimately for the loving and healthy perspective you have about this and healing in general.


  6. Leigh

    This view of life and healing is very similar to my own and what I have taught my daughter in her life. One of the things that has helped me the most is to view medicine and health care as a partner in my healing, a resource to support my body’s own knowledge and constant move toward perfect health. To me it’s not an either/or between inner self healing and seeking outside treatment.

    An example is when we had our daughter vaccinated. We researched all the pros and cons and decided on a modified schedule of vaccines beginning at six months old. Before the vaccination I held my hand over the site, pouring love from my body to hers, and explained that this was something that was going to help her own body’s ability to keep her healthy, that it was okay to take this in and let it help her. I told her also that it didn’t have to hurt but that if she needed to express something about it that it was okay, too.

    I’ve taught my daughter techniques to help her stay calm and “blow out the pain” when she falls down, and to direct healing energy to any injury or illness. I have also not hesitated to rush her to the hospital when she had a febrile seizure (didn’t know what was happening at the time) when she was three, or to have her see a doctor when a sinus infection overwhelmed her system.

    I live this in my own life as well. We all need help sometimes, and there’s a good reason we’re here together.

  7. Joy

    Thank you for sharing…your daughter has a beautiful spirit 🙂

    In my life, I know how to move energy and apply mind/body awareness and presence to heal…yet, when I was diagnosed with stage III cervical cancer, my mind told me as the single mother of two young children, I should embrace Western medicine to “buy time”…and re-center into my own potential…and my being agreed. With minimal meds and the knowledge that I didn’t want chemo or radiation so I couldn’t allow the cancer to advance or spread…I applied holistic practices as well.

    We practice unfolding in our lives, so my children are aware of natural life cycles and we spoke about the possibility of death quite openly. It is fear of loss that allows us to consider something we might not “normally”…I felt at the time that accepting meds into my system would enable me to embrace enriching and enlivening in ways I might not otherwise have and to be here perhaps longer to mother my children. I didn’t want “what-if’s” in their life.

    That was three years ago, and I am healthy, vibrant, and well…

    It is my belief that we are energy in bodies (humans, animals, plants, etc)…so the energy is always available, even when the bodies fail…it is our acceptance (or not) that allows us to continue to honor the cycle. Part of healing is learning that acceptance and trust…as you have shared so poignantly!

    Thank you for sharing so openly. I understand your pain, and that you are encouraging and inviting exploration at this time is a beautiful gift 🙂

  8. Crysta

    I believe we DO need both. Pain of any kind, is always a suggestion for change- we must listen to our inner pilot lights to discern what change within our control is necessary, most likely lifestyle changes. Additionally, we may need to see a doctor to rule out anything serious or life-threatening. It is the ever-looping tape in our minds saying “will I ever get well and/or recover from this?” that keeps the illness alive. I know from personal experience that it wasn’t until I actually BELIEVED I would get well, that I started to truly heal. Blessings to you all!

  9. Annette

    Thank you Lissa! As a health care professional who firmly believes in a holistic approach to wellness. I oftentimes get this question when I choose to use homeopathic remedies for my family and my self, and I try to explain that most often what we need to heal comes from ourselves and nature…. but there comes a time for a more clinical approach. This is the best response to this question that I’ve ever encountered. I would like permission to post this response on my website (or a link to your site) I truly appreciate your wisdom and your sharing it with us!

  10. Lissa Rankin, MD

    Thank you all for your insightful comments. I love hearing about how holistic practitioners resolve this in your own minds, so bless you for sharing.

    Annette, I would be honored to have my words shared. Of course you can link to my posts any time (please do!) And if you want to repost the content, just email and she’ll give you our reposting guidelines.

    Much love to you all

  11. mary

    I love your blog. My beloved son committed suicide recently after his relationship with his girlfriend of 7 years ended. I am going through ‘what if, I had..’ night and day.

  12. Ken


    This is well written and really speaks to me. I hope sharing my story is good for readers and myself, giving food for thought as to how to answer your question.

    When I was first diagnosed with RA, I tried for almost a year to “heal” myself with the assistance of a naturopath, a change in diet, etc. Then when I had many situations where I could hardly walk and knew I couldn’t continue without assistance, I decided I had to use the prescription route. A few months later, all was good physically, then my hair started to fall out and I knew the drugs (chemo drugs are often used to treat a diagnosis of RA) were wreaking havoc on my body.

    So I stopped taking them. I can’t explain it but I “just knew” there had to be a better way to deal with things and I decided to take my chances without the drugs.

    I was fine for several months and then symptoms returned. They were very different this time but the diagnosis was the same. In the meantime, I’ve learned a lot more about the healing process and have been practicing other techniques. I’ve had 3 circumstances where I was meditating and all of the pain and discomfort went away for a full day each time. So in my mind I now strongly believe and in fact “know” that I can complete the healing process by getting to the root cause of my situation.

    Again though the discomfort was too much to handle on my own. I really didn’t want to take the drugs, but I had to do something. I “asked myself” and “put it out to the Universe” to see what I should do next. The answers that came to me were to get help from drugs by using steroids, and continue to do the work on healing myself. And that seemed right at the time. I am now on a fairly low dose prednisone and I am keeping the manufacturers of Advil very happy.

    But most importantly, and to your article, I continue to do the work. My belief is that it’s okay to ask for help, and to use medication as and when necessary, but that if you don’t get to the root of the problem, it will keep coming back in some other capacity.

    I find it interesting that the biggest discomfort I feel now are pains in the right foot and buttocks. Yes, this diagnosis really is a pain-in-the-a++.

    I happen to believe that most (at least most, if not all) autoimmune diseases (or are they conditions?) like RA, lupus, MS, vitiligo, etc. are physical manifestations of the body attacking itself. And I also happen to believe that many of these have root causes of us mentally and emotionally attacking ourselves, with thoughts of “not good enough”, “not worthy”, etc. I believe that the root cause of my condition lies here somewhere, and so every day I do the work to change that “subconscious thinking”. That’s the “what if” I don’t want to look back on. What if I really was good enough and had everything I needed to heal myself already available to me, inside me?

    So how do I know when to reach to the medical system, and when to continue to work on self-healing? My answer is simple. I reach for the drugs as a last resort, a very last resort. And I do whatever I can to help me get to the root of the problem.

    Namaste, Ken

    • Dianne

      Ken and Lissa,

      I was referred to this article and this site from an email put out by Care2 Healthy Living. I’m interested in knowing if and what I can do to deal with the chronic pain I live with from Lyme Disease.

      Well, actually, I THINK I have Lyme Disease. I’ve learned, in years of research, that most lab tests are unreliable but I got a positive test result from a lab in CA (IGeneX) that specializes in testing for tick-bourne diseases. In recent lab tests, I had negative results for Lyme Disease but positive results for Epstein-Barr virus and CMV (cytomegalovirus) and, from what I’ve read online, these positive results only mean that I’ve had these types of infection at some point in time but it can’t be determined if they are still active so doctors usually diagnose based on the current symptoms. In my case, there is obviously something very wrong but I’ve been taking strong doses of narcotic pain pills for about 8 years and the drugs are definitely making me weaker and very out-of-shape.

      I get extremely winded doing the simplest things, like climbing one flight of stairs or walking a short distance. I’ve gained about 50-60 lbs. since 2003 and I absolutely hate being overweight. I had great metabolism right up until I got sick, at age 43, so I don’t believe my weight gain is at all due to getting older as so many people claim. Before I became dependent on pain pills, I never really exercised, per se, but I could literally eat anything I wanted and I never gained weight. I have gone from a size 6 to a 14-16 and, according to the BMI (Body Mass Index), I am considered obese! The extra weight and the pain pills are killing me just as much as the disease itself and I have no quality of life anymore.

      I have an appointment next month, in July (2012), with a doctor who specializes in treating Lyme Disease and I’m not sure how he treats this disease but my primary care doctor already tried the usual oral antibiotics for as long as 5 months and it didn’t help at all. I’ve read, in Lyme support groups, that it can take as many years of treatment as the time you’ve been sick with Lyme and, in my case that would be at least 8 years.

      Since I’ve been taking narcotics for so long, I know I would need to be very carefully weaned off the drugs if any treatment happens to be effective so I cannot simply stop taking the pain pills. Looking back, I wish I had never become dependent on these drugs because, even though I do have very real chronic pain, I know the drugs are doing a lot of damage to my body. I’m sure I wouldn’t have gained so much weight and I wouldn’t be so weak if I hadn’t become dependent on the drugs.

      Obviously, I can’t go back and change things so I need to go forward but I have my doubts that the specialist I’m going to is really going to make a difference and even if he does, I’m worried it could take a very long time. I’m 52 and I have two beautiful grandsons so I desperately want to get better.

      Since autoimmune diseases were mentioned in your post (Ken), I’d like to know what you, and Lissa, believe I could possibly do to try and heal myself. Again, I can’t just stop taking the drugs cold-turkey because it would kill me but I can try to wean myself off.

      I also, SOMEWHAT, agree with you that these illnesses have mental and emotional root causes so our bodies are attacking us. In my case, I was born with a rare birth defect that led to a long series of UNSUCCESSFUL reconstructive plastic surgeries. At one point, my body looked almost normal and I felt fairly good about myself but there were infections that caused setbacks so I no longer feel good about my body. I’ve been insecure all my life, to a point, but I ALWAYS bounced back, physically, from all those surgeries. I never became dependent on pain pills and I never became weak and overweight as a result of the plastic surgeries.

      I didn’t become disabled from pain until 2003, at age 43, when I was bitten by SOMETHING. Several doctors believe, and so do I, that the bite was from a brown recluse spider, based on the effect it had on my body. Fortunately, the specialist I’m going to next month does believe you can get Lyme Disease from other arachnids, not just ticks, so I guess he will diagnose me based on the test result from the specialized lab and from his own beliefs.

      Now that I’ve practically written a “book”, I will ask again what either of you believe I can possibly do to heal myself. I’ve never tried meditation so I will look into that but I’d also like to know if it would be worth it to me to buy Lissa’s book. I’m on SS Disability and a very limited income so I can’t afford to spend money on something I could simply read online. I’m still hoping the specialist can make a difference but I know I need to do whatever I can to speed up the healing process on my own. Any advice would be greaty appreciated!

      Thank you for reading my story.

  13. Sofia

    Dearest Lissa,
    So sorry to hear about Grendel. I read your last blog post about the whole incident and was shocked by the update, couldn’t find the PERFECT words to say.
    I loved this post. I think you are right on with what you are suggesting, the idea of tapping into our intuition is truly the perfect way to handle it. I get that for so many of us TRUSTING our truth/intuition/inner pilot light is something so new that we don’t even know how to tap into it or where to begin with trusting it. We have been taught to trust the medical community ~ healing ourselves, this is all so NEW for us. That said, I believe that tapping in and trusting our intuition is the beginning of the healing process and is a must in order to HEAL ourselves fully. It’s in the believing that we can heal ourselves that the healing begins and like you said, sometimes it may not cure the illness or keep us from passing, but I still believe that tapping in and trusting IS healing and may be exactly what a particular individual may need before passing.
    Just my thoughts . . .
    Grateful for your continued Wisdom and Inspiration.
    Wishing you and your family healing,

  14. Allison

    So well written…I just happened to take the time to read this post today, and oh, how timely, indeed! I just had a conversation today with a long-time and dear friend who is beginning her journey of whole foods eating and determining how to heal her possible lupus diagnosis with food vs. medications. We were discussing the importance of emotional health as well as physical health and how much the two are intertwined. This will be an excellent reference for her, especially everyone’s replies. She’s also a dog lover and will truly feel your pain in losing Grendel. I am so sorry for that.

  15. Lissa Rankin, MD

    Oh Mary- I’m SO sorry about the loss of your son. Please know that you did everything you could. You were doing the very best job mothering him you possibly could because that’s what we do as mothers, and even so, we’re never perfect- not one single one of us.

    I know it’s very different, but what comes to mind for me is what happens to doctors when they lose a patient or have a complication from surgery or childbirth. You look back with what doctors like to call the “retrospectoscope” and you tell yourself, “If only…” If only I had checked that artery one more time to make sure it wasn’t bleeding. If only I had done that C-section ten minutes earlier. If only I had ordered vital signs every 15 minutes instead of every hour. If only there was this one thing I could have done that would have prevented this horrible outcome.

    You can beat yourself up for the rest of your life, wondering if there’s anything you could have done to save your son. Or you can treat yourself with so much tenderness and compassion for doing the best you could, the way you would comfort a beloved friend if the same thing happened to her.

    You couldn’t prevent this tragedy, Mary, just like I couldn’t prevent the loss of Grendel. Grendel’s little spirit had already checked out. We could have given her all the drugs and procedures in the world, but when the spirit decides it’s time to go, it just goes.

    Your son’s spirit had already checked out, love. You could have committed him to a psych ward or put him on drugs or forced him to the psychiatrist’s office, but there’s nothing you could have done to call his spirit back when it’s already decided to leave this earthly plane. Your son has peace now, freedom from the inner voices that tormented him.

    May you have peace in your heart and be brave enough to keep it open, even in the face of such tragic loss.

    With love

  16. Lissa Rankin, MD

    Ken, thank you for sharing your story. I didn’t know all the details of how you’ve navigated your health journey, so I appreciate knowing more. And yes, it is a dance. I get totally frustrated with doctors who think drugs, lab tests, and surgery are the only way to go. But I also get equally frustrated with holistic practitioners who pressure patients into avoiding conventional medical treatment.

    We need both. We need the reassurance of knowing that we’re doing everything we can with modern medical technology, especially when the condition is potentially life threatening. But we also can’t rely only on that or we miss some of the most powerful opportunities for healing. When we allow, in a non-dualistic way, the possibility that both can coexist side by side, we make the body ripe for miracles.

  17. Candice

    I spent many dollars trying to save my cat Percy. I have never ever regretted spending the money. I only wished that he could have been saved. I wanted to have him with me forever.

    He came into my life a few weeks after my mother died in 1993. He helped me so much during those dark days. Then we helped each other!! We were always there for each other. He left me a few weeks after the anniversary of Mom’s death 14 years later. I still needed his love, warmth, and gentle nature. God didn’t agree.

  18. Davena


    I am so sorry for your loss. Words are always insufficient during times like this.

    When I was first diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis a little over two years ago, I fought the drugs like crazy. As a healer, I thought I should be able to fix this myself, but eventually the pain was too severe and I had to accept help. Now I have full range of movement with almost no pain, but getting here was a trial and error process that required the wisdom and assistance of a full range of healers. A rheumatologist who understands my desire to stay off the harsher meds, several energy workers, an herbalist, more food-as-medicine authors than I can count, and a deeply supportive circle of friends and family. When we are open to the possibility of healing and do not judge where that possibility might take us, we find what we need.

    You made the right choice for you and your family, and that is all that we can do. Many blessings as you heal from this event.

  19. Crystal Frazee

    Lissa, what a powerful perspective to share. I am a Doctor of Physical Therapy and I could not agree more with what you’ve said. I give my all to help restore biomechanics of joints and restore muscles so they can function optimally. However, my primary aim is to empower the patient to acknowledge and experience their own min-body connection and awaken to the healing potential they posses…without my hands.

    There is no greater medicine than that.

  20. Bonnie Brennan

    I am truly sorry.:( Having read your last post, I thought your puppy would make it! The next question you can answer for me is what you did with her after her death. My poodle is quite elderly and, knowing that his death is imminent, I have been fretting over this question quite a lot of late. Hugs to your family.

  21. Lissa Rankin, MD

    Bonnie, when Grendel died in my arms, we brought her home- my daughter carried her in the car- and held a funeral for her in our backyard, where we covered her body with essential oils and buried her, along with the ashes of my last dog Ariel, who died six years ago and has been in an urn. We also buried with her all of her 13 tennis balls, as well as her favorite teddy bear.

    Just now, we just finished visiting her grave in our backyard, where we all stood around telling Grendel stories. It feels right to have her here with us, and it felt important to Siena to have that closure. Siena was only two weeks old when Ariel died, so we chose to cremate her. But Siena really wanted to keep Grendel’s body with us…

  22. Leelee

    Hi Lisa,

    First of all, condolences for your loss. It is hard to see an animal suffer, they don’t complain and
    Are so totally dependent on us to make the call about whether or not to get them medical care!

    Secondly, very interesting topic! I believe that even when we do seek assistance from a doctor or
    Practitioner of any stripe, we heal ourselves. There is tons of research, if you need that, indicating that no treatment will work if deep down, we don’t fully believe in it. So whatever decisions we make to help ourselves, it is more effective when we can feel that we trust the decision we have made and can relax, if you will, into the treatment.

    At this time in history, we are facing unprecedented levels of illness and poor health, largely due to
    Contemporary conditions never before faced by humans: lifestyle stresses related to the speed of living, related to our reliance on technology, being sedentary to a degree previously unheard of, the poor quality of our food supply and poor dietary choices related to having been miseducated by commercially-driven education, which has been largely designed by corporate interests primarily focused on conditioning people to buy products, and environmental toxins, present in our produce, air, medications, and personal care products and building materials, meaning our immune systems are being bombarded with levels of toxins largely man-made and very dangerous. Many of these have never existed before and are causing health issues that are very entrenched, as it is not always possible or safe to detox them from the body, once they have found their way there, and lodged in our fatty tissues and organs.

    So what I notice are people becoming ill and succumbing to conditions that have not been seen before and which mainstream and alternative medicine alike are at a loss to deal with satisfactorily.
    These include the range of neuro-immune illnesses as well as others which on the surface appear to be understood by medical practitioners but which nevertheless resist easy treatment, lke obesity and type 2 diabetes.

    Anyway, I do also want to say that when we become more aware due to illness, of our needs as well as the needs of the environment, that we can begin to make better choices and to move not only ourselves but the planet in the direction of healing. We may or may not fully recover from a particular health challenge, but we can always move in a direction supportive of better health and wholesomeness.

    Recovering from chronic illness can be a bit like putting a puzzle together: we don’t know where all the pieces go at first, and may have to shift our focus from time to time, to other parts of the picture to complete it. But eventually it begins to make sense and then we can make progress more easily and move our focus more happily from one area to another in the healing process.

    Those are some thoughts I’ve had, working with myself and others with various health issues.

  23. Marsha

    Lisa, I have been getting your emails but this one made me take another look at what you were writing. I thank you for sharing your story with us. I is so hard when a pet dies. And to the subject of when do you know to use the traditional medical community, I also believe that you know inside. I have been using mind/body techniques for over 20 years. I have RA, Crest Syndrome, Ankylosing Spondilitis…all auto-immune. Have replaced both shoulders and a hip…still lots of joints with no cartilage. I have done everything..biofeedback, acupuncture, physical therapy, yoga…and tried everything. I have utilized therapy to try and get to the bottom…the root of the disease. Sometimes feel like Sherlock Holmes! I mean one auto immune disease is bad enough…but 3????
    I loved your question…What does my body need in order to heal? I wrote it down on an index card and put it right in front on my desk. I thank you for this question. I am still searching for the piece to the puzzle. Sometimes it takes a long time. Peeling the onion, layer by layer. So I want to encourage others to not give up. We can improve the quality of our lives!

  24. Mary

    I agree with you, Lissa, that we need both. My theory is that most of the time Western medicine works well for acute illnesses and pain. We are super good at emergency care and stopping the pain, at least in the short term. If I am dealing with things I don’t know much about, I always visit the doctor with an open mind. He has the right to prescribe me drugs and I have the right to decide to take them or not. Similar to a reader above I tried to treat a UTI on my own. Not a good idea. Not only because cranberry juice and yogurt weren’t enough “medicine” to get the infection out of my system, but also because I was in so much pain that I wasn’t in a place to heal myself. The pain itself was so stressful that I’m sure it was adding to my dis-ease. I am also supremely grateful that I finally broke down and saw a therapist, who ultimately led me to a psychiatrist and Prozac. I never would have taken it, except I was obviously a wreck, and the doctor was so kind. I only took it for a year, and got myself healthy in the meantime. Had I not taken that doctor’s advice, I may have continued down a very dark and depressed path. Taking it, I was able to focus on myself, learn new strategies of self-care and wean myself off. And my last example is the cyst I had on my finger. No amount of loving kindness was helping that one. The doctor did an outpatient operation, took it off, tested it for cancerous cells and I am grateful that I went that route. I strongly believe in both. The biggest problem is when our doctor tells us something and we accept their advice as the words of God and don’t question why they are prescribing anti-seizure medicine for their pain. (An elderly friend of mine asked for some advice, we looked up the meds together and I helped him formulate some questions for the doc.) Great article!

  25. Reiki Doc

    Dear Lissa, thank you for being a pioneer across both disciplines of traditional and energy medicine. This article is a godsend for healing, and really needed to be written so that others may find peace within themselves to seek whatever form of healing that might work for them. That it is OKAY to do both, and not to skip the deep questions in the healing process.
    I think there is more to the problem of illness than we can see. Leelee hits the nail on the head, so to speak. But I wish to go further, and say that until this time all of the unseen factors predisposing us to illness can be sorted out, let your inner guidance help you in your choices in search of healing. What is most important is to find the right healer with whom you can connect. This day and age there are so much more people like us, versed in more than one kind of healing art, that patients are doubly blessed! What is most important, like you say, is for us to look for healing modalities that resonate with our heart center and move us along our path as gently as we need, to learn, to grow, and perhaps lead others (Crystal Frazee’s example made me smile).
    Thank you for being the visionary you are. Thank you for inspiring us. Please let Siena know her future is going to be something I will love to watch, as she is already wise beyond her age and promises to be amazing! And please put a flower on Grendel and Ariel for me, to thank them for being such good teachers who are helping us learn valuable lessons about life and death, through the learning you and Siena are sharing with all of us now. Namaste.

  26. mary

    Dear Lissa,

    Thank you for your very comforting words. I really appreciate your very caring reply.


  27. M Lyn

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    It’s the best money I’ve spent in a long, long, long time.

    Thank you so much for writing about it. Hope to see you at one of the classes.

    M Lyn

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  30. Anupam Banerjee

    “Sometimes we’re just supposed to stay sick…”…did not like that thought. Your lectures on TED must have motivated millions of sick patients to have a new and disease free life…we hear of jungle tribes who have never known “disease”…Patanjali writes that through Yoga all diseases can be cured. You yourself have talked about Cancer and HIV disappearing…so with the right healing and when necessary medical intervention, why should it be anyone’s destiny to stay sick?


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