Before You Begin Activating Your Healing System When You're Sick
Now that you understand how your body’s healing system works and how you can strengthen and fortify it, you can apply this knowledge to the treatment of specific health problems. Before you begin, however, there are seven key points to keep in mind while you are working with your healing system:
1. Remember that you are not a machine.
Keep in mind that you are not a machine, but a complete human being with a body, mind, and spirit, and that all are interconnected. You need to take all three aspects into consideration if any physical disease is to be truly eradicated from your body. This is particularly true for chronic problems.
When serious illness strikes, it is easy to become over-whelmed, not just physically, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, as well. You can become depressed and give up any hope that you will ever live a normal life again. At times like these, when you are in a weakened physical and emotional state, the task of getting better may seem daunting. Because your mind is connected to your body, when you are in this hopeless state of mind, it is difficult for your health to improve. As you recall, your mind is connected to your healing system and exerts a tremendous influence over your internal mechanisms of repair and recovery. To enlist the services of your mind while you are working with your healing system, refer to the strategies, methods, and techniques given specifically for this purpose in a previous post.
2. Focus on your healing system, not on your illness.
Be careful not to pay more attention to your disease and the external agents that may be causing it than to your own healing system and the steps you need to take to bring it up to speed. The most common strategic mistake most people make when illness strikes is that they invest more time, energy, and fear into what has invaded their bodies, or what is wrong with their bodies, than they do focusing on their natural internal healing resources. This emphasis sabotages the healing process. When your are sick, you can easily lose sight of your body’s intrinsic state of health and instead erroneously succumb to the belief that the illness is more powerful. When you do this, you waste precious energy that could be used for healing.
Focus your attention on your healing system and not on your disease, pain, and discomfort. When you do this, your mind will join forces with your body to more effectively over-come your illness. This powerful healing partnership can maximize the flow of your healing energies, mobilize the forces of healing that exist within you, and produce a more rapid, effective, and thorough healing response.
If you are motivated to get better, you can even use your illness as an opportunity to learn more about the factors that contributed to your loss of health in the first place. Your illness can show you not only the way to remedy your current situation, but how to stay healthy and remain balanced in all areas of your life, so you can avoid getting sick again in the future. In this respect, illness can be a blessing in disguise, a valuable learning experience, and a time of transformation, renewal, and healing.
3. Practice prevention.
We all remember the saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Anything, including your body, is easier to fix when problems first begin and damage is minor, than it is if you wait until the problem has escalated to the point at which extensive damage has occurred. More time, energy, and expense is required to repair the damage when you wait to address a problem than if you can prevent it from happening in the first place. Investing in your health by supporting your healing system when you are well, so that you can avoid illness, is more cost effective, in both time and money. Additionally, when you have the momentum of good health on your side, any illness or dis-ease has far more difficulty invading your body.
If you can’t prevent a health problem, at least intervene early to nip it in the bud. Institute corrective measures as soon as possible. Illnesses and diseases that are caught in their early stages are much more easily treated than those that have been allowed to progress, spread, and establish themselves in your body.
4. Pay attention to your body.
Remember to listen to your body whether you’re sick or well because it can provide valuable information concerning your health. Although there are a few exceptions, do your best to avoid any activity or treatment that drains your energy, makes you irritable, interferes with sleep or other vital functions, increases your symptoms, or makes you feel worse. With a few exceptions, continue and pursue any activity or treatment that makes your mind and body feel stronger, clearer, lighter, more energetic, and more at ease. It is important to use common sense here, and to avoid artificial substances, such as anabolic steroids, opiates, stimulants, or other drugs that may provide temporary, short-term relief, but that in the long run often prove harmful.
Remember that distinguishing between a symptom of dis-ease and a healthy physiological response from your healing system is vitally important. For example, many symptoms of illness, such as coughing, sneezing, or fever, are commonly attributed to the actual disease process when, in fact, they more accurately reflect activation of your body’s healing system. Recognize these symptoms for what they really are, learn to cooperate and work with them, and don’t panic when they occur.
5. Use natural medicines and treatments responsibly.
Natural medicines and treatments, when used responsibly, can be highly effective. They are particularly effective when they are used early on in the course of an illness, or for an illness that is chronic. And even though many natural medicines and treatments are safe, it is important that someone knowledgeable administers them, their use doesn’t cause you to delay conventional treatment that may be more effective, they don’t interact with conventional medicine you may be currently taking, and they don’t cause any untoward reaction in your body. Natural medicine or treatment is best administered by a trained health professional who also has worked and trained in conventional medicine and is open-minded enough to understand the practical contribution and benefits of a variety of treatments that can support your healing system.
- 6. Use conventional medicines and treatments when necessary.
There are times when it is appropriate, particularly in acute situations, to use conventional treatments such as modern pharmaceutical agents and surgical procedures, even those that may be extremely invasive. These treatments can often be life saving, particularly in emergencies. When you are in a car accident and have sustained critical injuries is not the time to eat brown rice, meditate, and do acupuncture. You need to go by ambulance with the help of trained paramedics to the finest hospital emergency room. There, skilled surgeons and critical-care nurses will give you the treatment you need. In addition, conventional diagnostic methods, such as laboratory and imaging techniques, can provide key detailed information about your illness and serve as invaluable aids in monitoring your healing progress. While the least invasive methods usually should be attempted first, conventional medicine used appropriately has much to offer for supporting your healing system and facilitating the healing process.
7. Understand your pain, and learn how to work with it.
Pain is one of the most potent messages your healing system sends to you. Pain gets your attention and is an urgent wake-up call from your healing system’s communication center that something is out of balance and wrong with your body. Pain tells you that, if you don’t take immediate action, things could get worse. (There are exceptions to this, such as the pain of childbirth.) Don’t be frightened or intimidated by your pain; rather, try to understand it. Pain is a valuable message from your healing system and in the long run is intended for your benefit.
The purpose of pain is to help you direct your healing energies to a particular area of your body where the normal flow of energy has become blocked. Pain conveys a sense of urgency, and, if you don’t respond, its intensity increases. When pain escalates but is ignored or suppressed, it evolves into numbness. When this lack of feeling or sensation sets in, it is accompanied by a loss of function. Numbness is an ominous sign: It is difficult to heal that which you cannot feel.
Always remember that where there is pain, there is life. Your pain tells you that your nerves and your body’s tissues are alive and well and are trying to communicate with you. It is telling you to take corrective action to restore normal function to your body. Where there is pain, there is always the opportunity for healing. Pain is not negative or punitive, but rather a positive, instructive, helpful message from your body’s healing system. Pain is a consummate teacher, and you should consider it your friend, not your enemy.
Pain is always temporary and needs to be understood, not ignored or suppressed. When you suppress pain through artificial means, you are turning a deaf ear to valuable information your body is trying to share with you. A smoke alarm is installed for your protection, and if you were to snip its wires because you didn’t like the irritating sound it made every time it was activated, your house might burn down. Snipping the wires to your internal alarm system is what you do when you suppress your pain. Unfortunately, through the widespread use of pain-suppressing medications, people in our society are learning how to successfully ignore their bodies. Doing this is often very harmful because most conditions get worse when the underly ing causes have not been addressed.
Sometimes, chronic pain doesn’t have a physical cause but has its roots in deeper emotional pain. This emotional pain seeks bodily expression, which can come in the form of unbearable physical pain. This type of pain is often described as functional, which means that nothing structural can be found as the source, as opposed to organic, which means that there is a definite physical cause for the pain. You must address functional pain just as seriously as you do organic pain, and you must listen to these important messages from your body to activate your healing system and begin the healing process.
Learning to Work with Your Pain
Pain is a potent message from your healing system that something is out of order. Underlying causes always need to be addressed, but if no serious or life-threatening cause has been found, and your pain still persists, you can take the following steps to work with your pain, no matter how long it has , been with you:
- Listen to your body. lf your pain is severe and longstanding, you initially might need to practice this exercise up to four times a day, for a minimum of 30 to 45 minutes for each session. Allow several months for improvement if your pain has lasted for six months to a year. Allow more time if your pain has been present longer. lf you are taking strong pain suppressants, practicing this exercise and gaining full benefits may be difficult. To gain full benefits and for maximum healing, reduce or defer taking these medications while you are practicing the exercise of learning to listen to your body. As the pain eventually begins to lessen in intensity and your body heals, you will come to appreciate this discipline and see that it was well worth the effort.
- Dialogue with your pain. Through the guided-imagery and visualization techniques presented in Part One, you can learn to have a conversation with your pain and gain valuable insights about its specific purpose and function. You can gain much healing information in this way. Your healing system is intelligent and knows more about your illness than you do, and by practicing these techniques you can access information that may be completely unavailable through ‘other means. This information can guide and direct your healing efforts and help you decide what other treatments may be of benefit. It is critical, however, that you make a commitment to implement into your Iife whatever insights you gain from these techniques.
- Breathe with your pain. In yoga, breath and energy are nearly equivalent. By working with your breathing, you can increase your energy and gain tremendous control over your pain. When you learn to slowly and gently lengthen your breathing, not only do you bring more oxygen and healing energy into your body, but you also help relax your nervous system, the master system in your body. Your nerves control all of your muscle tissues, which contain the largest number of pain receptors in your body. So when your nerves are calm and relaxed because of your breathing, your muscles relax. When your muscles relax, tension and pain automatically diminish throughout your entire body. Breathing is one of the most powerful modalities known to help diminish pain and strengthen your healing system. Breath-ing is simple, easy to practice, and always available to you.
- Stretch with your pain. Stretching lengthens muscles in your body, decompresses nerves, helps to restore vital movement of important structures and fluids, improves lymphatic circulation (which aids immune function), and creates space within which more blood flow and healing energy can enter problem areas of your body. Stretching, when done gently and correctly, and when combined with slow, gentle, deep breathing, is a powerful modality for eliminating pain. When you are stretching, keep these basic tips in mind:
- Follow the guidelines for stretching described earlier, and remember not to stretch too far.
- Remember to avoid any movement that increases your pain.
Remember never to force or strain while stretching.
- Grow from your pain. Most machines, when they exceed their capacities and shut down, have reset buttons that you can push to resume their normal functioning. Pain serves a similar function for us. Because our own poor personal health habits, attitudes, and thoughts create much of our pain and disease, pain forces us to take a deeper Iook at ourselves, reevaluate our lives, and change. Without pain, we cannot grow. ln the words of well-known cancer surgeon and author Dr. Bernie Siegel,”Pain is nature’s reset button.” Pain, particularly of a chronic nature, often carries with it deeper mes-sages than merely indicating that something is wrong in your body. Although pain can be a living hell, it can also be a great teacher and a blessing in disguise. Pain opens us up, broadens our horizons, enlarges our perspectives, expands our minds, makes us more tolerant, teaches us patience and endurance, and toughens our spirit and moral fiber. Pain teaches us compassion and understanding, and helps us to become better people. After you’ve been through pain and you’ve survived the sheer brutality of its force and power, you’ll never take anything in life for granted again. As gold is purified by superheating, so too the hell fires of pain can purify your soul and make you a better, stronger, more caring person.
No matter how long it has lasted, pain is always temporary. Once you have learned its deeper lesson, the pain will be released from your body and you will be free from its tyranny.