2.3 Can one assist Nature’s healing process? Does one have a role to play in one’s own healing?
Most certainly, yes. There is increasing evidence that we have a great role to play in the healing process, in both minor and major disorders. As a result of this recognition, a whole new field of ‘psycho neuro-immunology’ has opened up. It studies how the mind interacts and relates with the immune system and the body through the brain and nervous system.
In the recent past there was a tendency to look upon the body as a machine – the heart was compared to a pumping machine, the brain to a computer, the circulatory system to a massive pipeline. It is this mechanistic paradigm that saw the rise of strong and powerful medicines to restore the functioning of the body unaided by the body itself. But more recent thinking looks upon the human body as much more conscious than we believed it to be. In fact it is the first solid line of defense – the body not only assists the healing process but actually heals. There is an increasing recognition of the will-of-the-person, which in a certain sense also translates into a will-in-the-body itself, to recover or to succumb to an illness. When the body decides to get healed it is healed. It is this growing awareness of the body in its own healing that is the basis of quite a few New Age therapies such as Guided Imagery, Biofeedback etc. Simply put, it means that if the body can be provided with enough information about its present state and that which is desired, it starts activating processes in that direction! And why not? Even plants and animals often heal that way and the human body is supposed to be at least not inferior to them.
The role of positive thinking and, more so, of positive emotions and above all, positive faith in helping the healing process has been established beyond doubt. In other words, if we can achieve and maintain a generally overall positive state while ill, we will greatly help the healing process.
2.4 How does one achieve a positive state?
Yes, it is not easy to achieve this, especially when we are prone to negativity, anxiety and depression even while we are in our ‘normal’ ‘sickness-free’ state. It is only if we cultivate a habitually positive attitude in life that we can then extend it quite naturally to our moments of crisis, such as illness. Some are of course endowed with such a gift, others have to cultivate and develop it. The best way to develop it is through an association with positive books (such as spiritual literature), positive places (those charged with a positive atmosphere, like some sacred shrines), positive people’s influences which are elevated beyond those of ordinary humanity, but most of all, by a positive practice (spiritual attitude, surrender to God, meditation, etc.). A positive state also develops fast if we can place our trust entirely in the Divine and surrender our health or illness completely into His hands. But if we cannot do so due to a lack of a strong spiritual element in our nature, then at least some belief, even an intellectual belief in a Higher Power or sometimes even a religious one that a particular deity can help us if we can call or propitiate it, may provide a sufficient point of support for the healing forces to act.
In fact, if there is a strong faith or some such element of support then almost anything and everything can serve a healing purpose. Instances are recorded of certain yogis who could heal with the most unconventional methods. One way of looking at it is that when Nature or even the body decides or the moment of healing arrives, then a single word or even a glance is enough to heal. Seen in another way, we may say that faith and expectations make the soil of Nature ripe to respond to whatever method is adopted. In other words, we can almost say that when the patient’s mind is full of doubts in anticipation of the worst fears, then even the best healing methods may take time or may not even work. Whereas if the mind is full of hope and trust then almost anything may be able to help and heal. Such indeed is the power of our own beliefs!
If none of these are possible or, if for some reason or the other, inaccessible to us, then we can use the role of external help to induce a positive state. Sometimes this can be done spontaneously by a physician’s positive outlook and his personality, aided of course by the method or medicine he uses, to which we can more easily lend our faith. At other times, we may need some kind of a specific outer process to positively energise our nature. Some of these well-known methods are guided imagery, creative visualisation, positive suggestions, etc.
One simple method of guided imagery is to imagine a field of healing forces or transparent white light above the head and to bring it down by the power of thought and imagination step by step. At each step one gives suggestions (to oneself or to the person on whom one is trying it) that would facilitate healing. An example of such a suggestion is: ’Peace, peace, peace…. Peace in my head and peace in my thoughts and understanding….peace and harmony in my heart and feelings’…. and so on. The basis of this practice is that by the power of thought one can create a zone of forces within and around oneself and thereby induce the body itself to activate the healing processes.