The Heart of Medicine
“Anything we love can be saved”, activist and author Alice Walker stated. This statement speaks to me deeply as I contemplate what it truly means to hold space for those who are suffering. The path of naturopathic medicine calls us to address the heart of the matter, to address the root cause of disease, to restore clients on the path to wholeness, and most of all, to give love to those who are suffering. At the core of its foundation and philosophy, naturopathic medicine is a call to follow the paths of devotion and service.
I recall a case with a patient in clinic who had a ten year history of generalized anxiety disorder and I vividly remember a moment in my first follow up appointment with him after two weeks on a homeopathic remedy. He recalled that he had massive elimination and an eruption of dermatitis for the first few days of taking the remedy. This return of old symptoms before improvement of the current symptom picture marks the “Healing Crisis”, which often occurs when someone takes his or her appropriate constitutional homeopathic remedy. After experiencing this physical clearing of toxins in the first few days on the remedy, he felt a major energetic shift in a single moment of awareness.
I remember what he said to me.
“I was sitting on the top of a grassy hill overlooking the ocean… and then I let go…”
“What did you let go of?” I asked.
In tears, he replied, “I let go of fear… and I opened my heart.”
This is one of the first patients I treated with constitutional homeopathy as a stand-alone treatment. Since then, I have had a love and appreciation for this subtle form of medicine because it addresses the root cause of disease – the distunement of that vital force which acts to maintain wholeness of mind, body, and spirit. Almost a year later, this moment has stuck with me because it represents how total healing requires a spiritual and energetic recalibration – and that shift comes from the heart. This radical shift is what this man had experienced during his healing crisis of dermatitis and rapid elimination in the days before catharsis. Sometimes, the magnitude of the healing is proportional to the intensity of the crisis. Total healing requires that total shift, and sometimes, it involves letting go of fundamental patterns of thinking, feeling, and being. This is a process that can involve a tremendous sense of loss.
Another patient I had seen with a 15-year history of generalized anxiety disorder and a year of being homeless reported a heavy sense of grief after one week on a homeopathic remedy. In addition to taking homeopathy, she had shifted to a mostly plant-based diet, and incorporated daily brisk walking, deep belly breathing, and journaling. Throughout this process, she said was grieving the loss of the deeply rooted parts of herself that were anxious and suffering.
“l literally feel as if my old self is dying”, she said.
This woman had been homeless just a few weeks prior to my first visit with her. All within a few weeks, she had found a home, she witnessed her anxiety dissipating through homeopathic medicine, and she had found the agency within herself to undergo a major reformation of her diet and lifestyle. Growing pains are sure to accompany these sudden changes in life. The role of the practitioner in holding space becomes even more vital when the healing is rapid and effective. The patient needs that guide to serve as a mirror and bear witness to his or her healing process as he or she makes that major transition from fragmented to whole.
Recent health research has shown that the presence and intention of the practitioner is a key component of healing. A particular study that I have referred to (Bair, 2008) investigates the effect of the healer's electromagnetic (EM) heart field upon subjects. This effect was measured by synchronization of heart rates between practitioner and patient, as well as scores on the subjective inventories, Subjective Units of Distress (SUD) scale and a Profile of Mood States (POMS). Two groups of subjects both performed a combination of EMDR [eye movement desensitization and reprocessing], and EFT [emotional freedom technique]), a meridian-based tapping technique. The difference between the two subject groups was that the intervention group sat within the 3- to 4-foot "strong" range of the healer's heart field (n=50), while the control group sat beyond the 15- to 18-foot range of the healer's EM heart field (n=41) as treatments were performed. The variables compared between the two groups were heart rate, SUD, and POMS inventory. The study results showed that there was considerably more improvement in SUD and POMS scores in the intervention as compared to the control population, indicating additional benefit of the healer beyond the meridian-based therapies alone. Additionally, there was statistically significant synchronization of heart rate of the intervention population with that of the practitioner. The healer’s sharing of his or her electromagnetic heart field literally improved the receivers’s moods and eased their distresses.
The results of this study present a view of medicine as one of healing beyond evidence-based therapies and protocols. This is not to undermine the incredible value of modern research and evidence-based natural medicine. It merely emphasizes the point that there is more healing to be done beyond the material, physiological, and biochemical spheres. As we are involved in the business of radical and total healing, it is imperative that we treat the whole person – and that includes the non-tangible aspects of a person that influence how he or she responds to the surrounding world. Those hardwired responses, when not appropriate to the stimulus, lead to chronic disease as they are repeated over time. Often, these patterns have sprung from unconscious and unwritten stories that can be traced back to childhood trauma, and oftentimes even further back several generations in stories of familial and cultural heritage.
My own spiritual healing path has been a journey of returning to the Mother, to that divine source of unconditional love. In that space of connection to source, there is a sense of tenderness that can be likened to an aching, blissful melancholy because it involves confronting those stories of suffering that have spanned through generations. All of us have genealogical stories embedded in our energetic bodies, which mould to form that collective consciousness.
In times of external chaos, it becomes more imperative to cultivate self-awareness to heal ourselves from the inside out, and meet the deepest suffering of ourselves and others with forgiveness and love. As we let go of our own self-imposed limitations, we pave the path to true freedom and true joy, and radiate that intention from our hearts as we hold space for others.