Life knows best
This month, I would like to explore the concepts of health, healing and medicine. We use these words all the time, but rarely stop to consider what they mean.
First, we need to look at life. Nothing is stronger than the life force. Nothing. The force which animates us cannot be damaged or destroyed. It flows within us and without us. We are not separate from the greater universe. The universe does not stop. Life does not stop, even when we die. We only transform, change states.
We experience pain, disharmony, and dis-ease not because the life force is compromised, but because something has impeded our ability to make direct connection to it. When the life force is unable to reach various aspects of our being, (this can occur on any plane: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual), any areas not being served will experience distress and loss of function.
An effective medicine has reverence for life. An effective medicine trusts life. An effective medicine is a faithful servant to life, understanding that is has one purpose: to get things out of life’s way. In order to achieve healing, the life force must flow without restriction. An effective medicine works to clear pathways and make space so that the life force may be free to do what only it has the capacity to do.
Healing is only achieved through the life force plus time.
When medicine is practiced properly, it will facilitate free flow of the life force, which will decrease the ‘time’ aspect of the above equation.
Acupuncture and energy healing are examples of this type of medicine. These practices are centered upon the creation and maintenance of clarity and open space. So is meditation. Traditional Chinese herbal medicine facilitates enhancement of the life force through a variety of therapeutic methods: strengthening the vital energy, venting and expelling foreign pathologic influences, dispersing stagnation and accumulations (of energy, fluid, phlegm, and blood), clearing heat, warming cold, and regulating the flow of movement. Classical Chinese herbal formulas converse with the body and adjust their behavior according to the needs of the internal environment. They are prescribed to address underlying patterns and mechanisms rather than haphazard symptom chasing. If the underlying mechanism is the same, for instance, a single formula, when given to a patient with high blood pressure, will lower it, but when given to another patient with low blood pressure, will raise it. This is what it looks like when a medicine follows the laws of nature and has the capacity to listen and receive.
By closely studying and honoring life and its patterns of movement for over 5,000 years, these Eastern practices have developed sophisticated and powerful methods of opening and enhancing flow of the life force. Working as a humble assistant to life, they consistently accomplish levels of transformation considered miraculous or impossible within other paradigms.
We currently live in a culture where the predominant medical paradigm neither respects nor trusts the life force. It belittles and disregards the very thing it claims to serve. Western medicine assumes that life does not know what it is doing and that it needs someone to step in and take charge. This is arrogant. This is irrational. There is no humility in this view. This paradigm does not listen or make space. Rather, it creates synthetic interventions based strictly on theory and concept, rather than life itself. It fails to account for the totality of a person, holding no consideration for the complex ecosystem of interrelationships that life entails. It isolates a variable, singles out a target, and then aggressively forces itself upon the system. A pharmaceutical is an attack. It enters the body like an automaton and forces its own will. It does not have the ability to listen, adapt, or adjust. It simply does what it is programmed to do, with no regard for the terrain in which it has entered. It doesn’t care about the preservation of anything. By artificially imposing its non-negotiable agenda, it interferes with the natural flow and balance of all life processes. Rather than creating space and clarity, it adds confusion and complication.
Surgery is also an attack. We shut down consciousness and literally cut the body open. This is an act that would kill a person, were it not for artificial mechanisms keeping the body alive. This is no small thing. Though the patient does not feel or remember the procedure, it does not negate the fact that it is significant trauma. In some cases, people don’t make it through the stress of the event. In many more cases, people will spend the rest of their lives dealing with pain and other resultant complications from the intervention. Surgery creates a brutal disrupt in the meridians and energy field, which has its own set of consequences. I suspect that 100 years from now, when people look back at the history of medicine, this will go down as one of the most barbaric times ever witnessed.
Why are we so quick to trust a system that doesn’t trust life, that doesn’t believe in us? Why do we give ourselves over to practices that deny our innate power and wisdom?
Now for my disclaimer: as I write this, I can feel the resistance. I know that many of us actively utilize these methods. We have all utilized these methods; this is the paradigm we were raised in, why wouldn’t we? It is all we have ever known. It is what we have been taught to believe is the solution. It is not bad or wrong to utilize these methods. Please throw any guilt, shame, fear, and remorse out the window; these serve no function. I am not for or against the Western model. I believe that there is a place for everything. My stance on Western medicine is that it excels at heroic intervention. If my heart stops, call the ambulance. If I get hit by a bus and my arm is dangling off, please send me to the hospital. If I have gotten friendly with a poisonous snake or obtained an acute infection that will end my life if not treated immediately, inject the pharmaceuticals. If a disease process has been allowed to go too far, pull out the big guns. Extreme intervention is warranted in extreme cases. But for most of our daily life processes, it is not.
This is not to suggest that people immediately drop their pharmaceuticals and quit going to the doctor. This is rather, to suggest practicing thoughtful discernment when it comes to the application of such interventions. Is this a temporary means to get us through a tough space or is it a long-term plan with an indefinite ending? Is this intervention necessary? Is there a less aggressive, more life-supporting intervention we might try first? Is the choice to use this method coming from fear? Are we choosing this method because it seems like a quick, easy fix? Are we choosing this method because we believe it is the only option available? Are we blindly doing this because our doctor told us to? Are we supplementing our use of aggressive pharmaceuticals and surgeries with concurrent life-supporting therapies?
There are many questions to ask. I am suggesting that we ask them.
Health and healing is a lifelong commitment. As human beings, the cultivation and preservation of life, both within and without, is our number one responsibility. We were given this gift, to be here in this form. We have an obligation to care for all life, to respect, appreciate, and trust it.
Taking active measures to create space for the life force is not something we can do once or twice and then say: ‘good enough’. In the same way that we routinely clean our homes, brush our teeth, and partake in physical activity, we need to put effort into the regular maintenance of our energy fields and channels.
Perhaps the most important aspect of this work involves developing faith in the innate power and wisdom of our lives. We can lean into life with far more trust than we do. It is not necessary to fly into a panic at every little change, sensation and nuance that we feel within ourselves. Discomfort, turbulence, and illness are natural parts of life. We do not have to be so reactive, so desperate to immediately change how we feel. It is ok to feel bad, to be sick. Trust your life to do the work. It knows what to do. It is perfectly capable. Instead of throwing a thousand things at it right away, take a step back. Give it the space and time it needs. Be minimal and concise in your interventions.
When we cover up or run away from symptoms, or otherwise try to ‘protect’ ourselves from hard feelings, pain, and germs, we grow weak. When we over-sanitize and numb out our lives, we deny ourselves the practice of developing strength. We set ourselves up to be unable to handle anything. When we mask pain and discomfort, we only add layers to the core issue, making the situation exponentially more difficult to deal with when the time finally comes when we are forced to meet it.
Let emotions hit with full force when they arise. Play in the dirt. Don’t be afraid of the neighbor’s cough and sneeze. Lean into the challenges. That is how we build resilience. That is how we work with life.
Along our paths, there will be moments of discomfort and frustration. There will be other moments of hope and optimism. Despite the changing terrain of thought and emotion, the most important thing is to stay committed. The maintenance of our life force should be our highest priority. We have been given such a beautiful gift. Why do we spend so much of our lives trying to ‘get away with’ acts of neglect and destruction?
Again, I am writing to offer perspective. I am not claiming to be right or to have any answers. I am just a person. I don’t know a thing. Besides, in my world, right and wrong are irrelevant. I am writing to offer information so that people may be empowered. I am writing to remind that far more is always available and possible in this life than we are commonly taught to believe. We have more choice than we think. I am writing to encourage people to begin to trust life, to trust themselves, to trust the process. I am writing to encourage people to find reverence and curiosity for life, to fall in love with life. We don’t have to be afraid. We can trust this. We can trust all of this.
If we don’t have trust and respect for life, who do we think we are?