• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Tumblr
  • RSS

Posts Tagged “psychology”

Healing from Within

A week ago, I cut the tip of my right thumb while making thin potato slices with a mandoline (a highly effective, but dangerous, kitchen tool). When it happened, it bled profusely for quite a while, requiring pressure, elevation, and a number of changes of bandages. It really hurt. For a day or so thereafter, the slightest pressure produced more pain and bleeding. I had to be careful to leave it alone and keep it safe. But within four days, it was completely closed and no longer painful and I forgot about it as I went about my daily tasks. And now it’s almost gone, just a quickly fading pinkish mark where the nasty cut used to be.

I was never worried about it. I knew for sure the pain would pass and it would heal, and heal quickly, as long as I kept it safe and left it alone. Cuts always do. We can count on it.

The quickly healing cut reminded me of the miracle of the human body, the fact that we are designed to assure the natural healing of our wounds as long as we don’t interfere. It reminded me, too, of how readily we forget that we have the same capacity for natural healing of our psychological wounds, the wounds we feel but cannot see. Our psychological immune system, our innate health, is just as powerful and ordinary as our physiological immune system.

I learned this lesson first many years ago in a Principles class, very early in my exposure to the understanding that we create our reality from the inside out. I had just come from the dentist’s office, where, in the waiting room, I had filled out a questionnaire in a magazine about various types of stressors. The gist was that if 7 or more of those things had occurred to you in the past year, you were extremely stressed. I scored 10. At the break, I argued with the presenter that, given all the stresses I had to deal with, there was no way this understanding could help me. It would be “irresponsible” for me to “take my mind off the ball” and all the “problems” I had to deal with. I’ll never forget the response. “If you had suffered an abrasion and a scab had formed, would you immediately start picking the scab off of it, and then continually scratch at it?” I replied indignantly, “Of course not! It would never heal if I did that.” The presenter replied, “Hmmm,” and walked away. I was angry for a moment, and then I started laughing. Thinking about your “problems” incessantly in a stressed state of mind was like picking a scab, interfering with a natural healing process that would take care of itself if left alone. The whole class was about the innate wisdom we all have that will emerge if we leave our upsetting thinking alone and quiet our minds. It works just the way our innate immune system will provide what is needed to heal a wound if we don’t interfere and keep it clean and safe.

Why is it so simple and obvious to us to leave our cuts and bruises alone and let natural healing take its course, and yet so difficult to leave our thinking alone? Honestly, this question has puzzled me from the beginning of my realization that we are all using the energy of Mind to power our Thought and Consciousness to create our experience of life. The logic of the Principles makes it clear that our psychological immune system is as ordinary and natural as our physiological immune system. Yet we persist in trying to interfere with the natural healing process that would comfortably return us to balance psychologically. Figuratively, we keep picking that scab. Instead of accepting temporary psychological pain and discomfort as part of life, something that comes and goes, instead of just keeping ourselves safe and not acting on distressed thinking but leaving it alone, allowing it to take its natural course and pass, we roll into gear and try to fix ourselves. We worry about being in a bad mood, we struggle to get out of it, we complain, all of which slows down the natural healing process.

There was nothing I could do that would speed the healing of my thumb. It would happen on its own, in a reasonable time. There was plenty I could have done to slow or stop the healing, such as make no effort to protect the cut from dirt and germs, keep pulling away the scab, use the thumb as though it was its healthy self  and not temporarily impaired … So I was at choice as to how I would respond to this temporary distress. But following simple common sense was the clear and obvious choice.

In the words of Sydney Banks,

If your thoughts wander onto a negative and rocky path, don’t take them too seriously. Refrain from analyzing, because, I guarantee you, you will analyze yourself forever, never reaching an end, and fail bitterly to find peace of mind.

The Missing Link, p. 106

Leave a Comment

Should We Look Before the Fact?

It happens to all of us. We think we’re just about to find what we’re looking for, and instead, Poof!, it eludes us again. It’s hard for all of us to give up the direction we’ve picked to look a different way.  I thought of this last week when I was sure the keys to my car were somewhere in the house. It passed through my mind that maybe they were in the car in the garage, but I didn’t even look there because I was so sure I was on the right track searching in the house, searching the same places again and again, ever more determined.

Researchers keep looking for proof of the usefulness of altering brain chemistry with medications as a cure for depression; researchers perpetuate the idea that we just haven’t yet found the perfect drug. It has been estimated that 50% of people on medication for depression do not benefit from that medication. Discussion of the puzzling efficacy of the Placebo effect has persisted since a respected study showed that administering Placebo to depressed patients produced entirely different brain responses than those produced by drugs, yet an unexpected 38% of the Placebo participants improved. In a recent discussion of the subject, Dr. Joseph Coyle, a professor of neuroscience at Harvard Medical School, called the attribution of depression strictly to chemical imbalance “an outmoded way of thinking.” Yet it persists.

Maybe the keys are just not in the house?

Clarity is elusive.  We have become adept at studying brain activity and brain chemistry after the fact, but we have not found the key to what is before the fact. We have no scientific explanation of what generates emotional upset and creates the  chemical imbalance for which we seek a cure.

What answers do we have? (1) The brain is plastic and subject to inexplicable changes in chemistry and activity. (2) People respond variably to external input; it is impossible to determine a clear-cut cause and effect response to outside-in stimuli. (3) We do not have a universal explanation for brain changes.

What questions might we ask? (1) Are we looking in the right direction, given that the after-the-fact studies have led to increasing confusion? (2) If brain activity is constantly variable, should we be investigating healthy variability, rather than seeking artificial stability? (3) If we discovered the impetus for that variability, would it be easier to understand why the outcomes are so unpredictable?

Those are questions that teeter on the edge of the perceived boundary between science and spirituality. Yet, increasingly, science acknowledges that the study of human psychology involves spirituality as well. While it would be unfair to characterize the study of spirituality in psychology as “mainstream” or “hard science,” it would also be unfair to suggest that spirituality is not easing into the conversation and being taken to heart, especially in mind-body medicine. Increasingly, speculation appears in studies suggesting there may be “innate” processes not yet well understood,  or that there are dimensions of human resiliency beyond the reach of current science. Are they edging towards a different place to search?

The missing idea is that our emotional states could be created from the inside-out, not the outside-in. How people respond depends on their use of thought and on their state of mind, regardless of outside stimuli. The flow from formless energy to form is internally constant; the variable is the infinite variety of what is created. The ups and downs of experience make sense because experience is after the fact, an artifact of our infinite imaginations. Forming the thought, imagining form out of the formless,  is before the fact.

Everything puzzling and confusing about our current pursuit of understanding falls into place when we see it from the inside-out perspective. We use the formless energy of life to create thoughts. We are aware of our thoughts and experience them as real. Depending on our degree of awareness of our own psychological strength, we see more or less clearly that experience is coming through us, not at us. When it’s obvious to us that we are the thinkers of our own thoughts and the creators of our experience, we are buffered from ill effects. We can move through bouts of negativity and the ups and downs we feel, understanding that they are illusionary and temporary, that all our experiences come and go as our thinking changes.

This understanding would render chemical intervention superfluous over time. Such intervention might be helpful to quiet the mind sufficiently to be able to look and see and recognize the inner logic. But it would not be a long-term requirement because we would realize that it is within us to find and create real peace naturally.

I often feel like I am watching two trains racing towards a common destination from opposite directions. The science train racing from outside-in is moving towards an unexplored new place. The spiritual train racing from inside-out is moving towards a meeting point where it will surprise those who have not yet seen it and didn’t know it was coming. The journey offers promise of joyous meeting because the intent of both is simply to keep moving towards the deeply desired destination of peace of mind.

Leave a Comment

PayPal Acceptance Mark