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What Are We Really Talking about Here?
Defining "Consciousness" and "Healing."
You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserves your love and affection.
No man is great enough or wise enough for any of us to surrender our destiny to. The only way in which anyone can lead us is to restore to us the belief in our own guidance.
— Henry Miller
One evening years ago, near the end of a stress class I was teaching, one of the attendees, an artist with both words and paint, sat back in her chair, surveyed the room, and observed, "We all have our own stuff that we're working on, and we all have our own ways of doing that work, but we're all really doing the same thing: we're all just learning how to love better." She really hit the nail on the head, and the class sat there for a moment contemplating the truth of what she had just said.
What if she, Buddha, and Henry Miller are all correct? How can you put it all together? How can you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you deserve your own love? How can you connect with your deep, inner wisdom and let it help you navigate the winding passages of your life and show you how to meet whatever comes in your path with courage, competence, and confidence? How do you learn to love better?
In other words, how do you learn to heal? These and similar questions have pervaded my entire professional life. And I've been incredibly blessed to have had thousands of wonderful and amazing teachers, in the guise of my patients, helping me explore them. I'd like to share with you what I've learned in order to provide some possible answers.
How do I heal? This is a specific case of a more general question: how do I change? You need a way to make changes in yourself that works. The only changes you can make in yourself that last are those that allow you to become more of who you already are: your true, authentic self. Any other changes require ongoing effort to sustain them, which puts you at risk of fatigue or getting distracted and falling off the wagon. Practicing the seven tools of healing gives you a dependable, workable way to bring your true, authentic self to the surface without having to force anything. In other words, practicing the seven tools shows you how to effect genuine, lasting change in your life. There is no wagon to fall off of.
If you are experiencing any challenges anywhere in your life — with your health, in your relationships, in your career, with addictions — the information in this book will help you.
You have answers and possibilities within you that, could you access them, would astound you. Practicing the seven tools of healing will give you the skills you need to access those answers. It will give you the skills you need to bring forth and live as your true, authentic self to improve your physical health, your emotional health, and your relationships. It will help you find your right livelihood, to do with your life what you really came here to do: to live a life that pleases your soul. It will deepen and strengthen your connection to spirit, whatever that means to you personally. Practicing the seven tools of healing will give you the skills you need to be able to see the truth of what you are experiencing in your life, access your own inner guidance, trust it, and know how to act on it. All of this is healing. All of this I have witnessed in my patients.
What are we really talking about when we talk about health and healing? I made the mistake early in my career of just assuming I knew what healing was. Once I realized my mistake and started searching for a universal, concise, practical, actionable definition, I was amazed by the difficulty of the challenge. But the search was worth it because it transformed my thinking about health and healing, how I practice medicine, and how I live my life. Striving for clarity is worth it. In that spirit, I would like to define two words before we get started with the seven tools: "healing," because that's what this book is about and "Consciousness" because there is great confusion about this concept yet healing makes no sense without it.
We can look at the world in several different ways. Some promote healing; others promote suffering. I recommend that you try adopting a worldview that promotes healing. One such worldview that allows for real, lasting, deep healing sees Consciousness as primary. That means that Consciousness comes before matter and energy.
I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.
— Max Planck
Unfortunately, in English we use the word consciousness to refer to two very different concepts. One meaning, which I will denote with a small "c", refers to that usual state of awareness of ourselves and the surroundings in which most of us spend most of our waking hours. This is in contrast to being asleep or in a coma (although it has been recently discovered through PET and functional MRI scans that some people who appear to be in a coma are, in fact, conscious). The other meaning for consciousness, which I will denote from now on with a capital "C," refers to the Consciousness out of which all of the universe was created, the Consciousness that the Hindus refer to as Brahman or Purusha, that the Judeo-Christian traditions refer to as God, that the Lakota refer to as Wakan Tanka, and that Max Planck saw as fundamental to understanding quantum mechanics. These are just a few examples. Similar concepts of a singular Consciousness as the creator of, or contained within, all of creation can be found in different traditions all over the world and down through time.
When we work with healing, we work in depth with Consciousness. Consciousness follows basic laws similarly to the way nature follows basic laws. We need to put the laws of Consciousness next to the laws of nature if we want to get a more complete understanding of how healing works. The laws of Consciousness, as I've been able to discern them so far, will be presented throughout the book.
As a human, you are not only self-conscious; but you can also access universal Consciousness. You are simultaneously a unique individual and a seamless part of a greater Whole. I like to think that we are more accurately viewed as eternal, divine beings having occasional earthly experiences rather than as earthly beings having occasional spiritual experiences. You have free will and are potentially infinitely creative. Stop for a moment and take that in. You have free will: you get to choose; nobody, not even God, chooses for you. (Now, don't get too testy here. I'm not talking about all the things in life you have no control over. You don't choose your cancer or your sleep problem or your child's illness or the Holocaust or the weather — at least you as your conscious ego-self doesn't. But you do have control over certain things in your life, like how you respond to what you can't control, and for those things, you choose. We'll go into that more later.)
And you have the same Consciousness available to you that created the whole universe. Maybe not right now, as your ego-self, but with practice, there are no limits to your creativity.
Precisely because you have free will and can access Consciousness, the source of all creativity, you can heal: you can recover from diseases and injuries; you can live a meaningful and fulfilling life; you can be happy and loving. By using these two properties of your being, you can overcome adversity, free yourself from limitations, and follow your heart. You can take the hand life has dealt you and play it further than you or anyone else thought was possible. All it takes is the right practice.
Who are you? What is this world in which you live? What is truth, and how do you know it when you see it? What do you want to experience during your life? Are you interested in answering these questions for yourself?
If so, your challenge is to consciously use Consciousness to create a life that pleases your soul. That is the path of healing. Your health issues function as steppingstones and guideposts on that path. So the question is, how best to walk it? Do you want to dig deep and change the flow of Consciousness that is creating the problems that you want to change? Or do you want to work more superficially: trying to change what has already been created, treating symptoms, or trying to make yourself be the way your ego mind thinks it wants you to be? Only you can answer these questions for yourself. You might want to work elements of both approaches, but definitely don't just work superficially. You can work and work to change the results of what you are creating. But unless you also make fundamental changes to whatever determines those aspects of Consciousness that you are allowing to flow through you — the aspects of Consciousness that are creating your life for you right now — your symptoms or patterns will reassert themselves.
You may or may not have seen this principle play itself out in your own life, but I bet you've seen it in your family and friends, in the way they keep treating themselves, in the kinds of relationships they keep getting into over and over, in their issues with their weight, with their addictions. If your efforts to alleviate your own suffering are working too superficially, your suffering will continue. You may have moments of respite, but eventually the same or similar forms of suffering will return. You need to work at the level of Consciousness to make real, lasting changes. I use these ideas in my practice every day. I know they work. I've seen them help thousands of people, many of whom had exhausted all of conventional medicine's options. I know in my bones that they will help you, too. I hope the medicine of the future will partner Consciousness equally with molecules, genes, and biochemistry; but you can create that advantage for yourself right now by practicing the seven tools of healing.
The second word I would like to define is "healing."
The purpose of this book is to explore healing. As I mentioned in the Preface, when I first asked myself the question, "what is healing?" I was a resident in my sixth year of medical training. The answer hit me like a giant lightning bolt: I didn't know. Asking myself that simple three-word question and being curious about an answer has changed my entire life.
The deepest essence of healing is a mystery and we will probably never have it all within our conscious control, but many practical benefits can be gained by learning how to work with the mystery.
Over time, as I worked down through the layers of my search for a definition of healing, I realized that healing has very little to do with how your body is working (or not) or how you are feeling, either physically or emotionally. As a physician, this came as a big surprise. It has little to do with changes in jobs, in relationships, or in living situations. It has little to do with diet or exercise. Any improvements in these areas are either the effects of treatments that will go away when the treatment stops or the results of the healing. Generally, relief of symptoms or improvement in your life circumstances are the outward results of healing, they are not the healing itself. This is a common confusion in our society.
To explain, let's assume for a moment that symptoms are clues that healing needs to happen. Then let's say that you received some treatment and the symptoms went away. Let's further assume that the treatment did not just suppress the symptoms (as do so many conventional and alternative treatments — for example, blood pressure medicines lower your blood pressure but do not cure you of your hypertension, insulin can lower your blood sugar but does not cure you of your diabetes, using your inhaler helps you breath but does not cure you of your asthma, and so forth) but actually resolved the imbalance behind the symptoms. So, if the symptom is truly resolved and does not need ongoing suppression to stay gone, since the presence of the symptom is a clue that healing needs to happen, the resolution of the symptom is a clue that the healing has happened. It is not the healing itself. I hope that distinction makes the confusion a little clearer.
As a simple example, suppose that you got diagnosed with high blood pressure. Let's also suppose that, instead of taking a medication for it, you went on a diet, lost fifteen pounds, and your blood pressure normalized. Have you healed your hypertension? My medical training would say "yes". But, from what I know now, I would say, "that depends." That depends upon what you did inside of yourself to lose the weight. What if, in six months, you put the weight back on, and your blood pressure went back up? In that case, you haven't healed your hypertension because maintaining your lower weight had not become who you are. Keeping the weight off was requiring your on-going effort, and when you fatigued or got distracted, the weight came right back on. If the changes you made inside of yourself that enabled you to lose the weight fully integrated and became a part of who you are, and your blood pressure stayed normal for years, then I would say that you healed your blood pressure.
I hope you get the point. So, if the resolution of the symptom is not the healing, then what is?
By the time I got around to asking myself that question, I'd noticed that, even though I couldn't state a succinct definition for healing, I could recognize it when it happened. True healing has its own distinct feeling or sense to it. I started observing my patients who had experienced healing with the following question in mind: What else has changed about them besides their symptoms going away?
And I saw that they had also learned something. And generally, what they had learned had to do with their own understanding of themselves, their relationship with themselves, and their place in their world. People who healed had deepened their understanding of themselves, they had improved the quality of relationship they were having with themselves (kinder, less judgmental, etc.) and they had found and freed themselves from some kind of limiting belief. They had changed some aspect of their world view to be more in alignment with a higher, spiritual truth.
I asked myself, "What if this learning, this aligning of their world view, is the healing? What if symptoms are really attention-getting devices calling our attention away from our busy externally-focused lives long enough to attend to some imbalance in our system?" So I came up with this definition of healing: Healing is the process of finding out who you really are and then living true to yourself.
Before having this insight, I had tried several other definitions of healing, eventually finding them to be too limiting, not true, or not practical. I have been working with this definition now for over twenty years and haven't outgrown it yet, so I'm starting to think that there may be something of use in it. But I also hold some suspicion that real healing is still a mystery beyond my ken, like the unveiling of your soul or something, and even this deep learning that my patients are experiencing is but a result of the healing as well.
As I mentioned earlier, I've been on a quest to find better and better ways to help my patients live happier, healthier lives. When I started medical school, I thought that conventional medicine had all the answers or was hot on the trail of the answers with active research. I had no experience or knowledge of alternative medicine. My conventional medical training is in family practice, so I have a broad understanding of conventional medicine and what it has to offer. Within the first ten years of completing residency training, I'd been the only doctor in a small town in rural Maine, a staff physician at a large, urban, multispecialty clinic in downtown Seattle, in private practice in a Seattle suburb, and the medical director of a free clinic for homeless people. All of these different practice settings have given me a broad understanding of how medical care gets delivered to people throughout the spectrum of our society.
While still in medical school, an awareness started growing in me that something was missing from conventional medicine: I started seeing patients for whom conventional medicine held no good answers. So I widened my search. I started to look at many different healing traditions around the world, their philosophies, and their practices. When I first started exploring beyond the bounds of conventional medicine, I hoped that alternative medicine had some better answers about healing. I studied a broad range of alternative medical systems, and looked into other ways to support and treat the body, mind, energy, and connect with higher knowing.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Seven Tools of Healing"
Copyright © 2018 Steven M. Hall, MD..
Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 What Are We Really Talking about Here?, 1,
Chapter 2 The Seven Tools of Healing : A Brief Overview, 13,
Section Two The Seven Tools of Healing,
Chapter 3 Faith, 33,
Chapter 4 Awareness, 65,
Chapter 5 Acceptance, 149,
Chapter 6 Compassion, 161,
Chapter 7 Forgiveness, 185,
Chapter 8 Gratitude, 195,
Chapter 9 Right Action, 203,
Chapter 10 Change, 209,
Chapter 11 Pitfalls, 221,
Chapter 12 Summary, 237,
Appendix A: The Vedic Model of a Human Being, 239,
Appendix B: Metaphors, 267,
Appendix C: The Quantum Mechanical Perspective on Human Consciousness, 277,
References and Notes, 287,