In my upcoming book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself (Hay House, 2013) and in many recent blog posts, I talk a lot about the mind’s power to heal the body. But when you or a loved one is sick, how do you know when to employ the mind’s self-healing powers versus when to get thee to an emergency room lickety split?
Knowing how to integrate the mind’s healing powers into the world of conventional medicine can be tricky, so I want to lay out some guidelines. But first, a story…
When Grendel Couldn’t Heal Herself
Grendel the Mojo Pup recently fell off the bed. Initially, she picked herself up, brushed herself off, and went about her merry business. My six-year-old daughter Siena has been intentionally brainwashed to believe she can heal herself and so can Grendel. (Those empowering positive beliefs downloaded into her subconscious mind will stay there for the rest of her life unless she consciously reprograms them, and I am very mindful that I want to make sure she knows how much power she has to heal herself, rather than programming her to believe she must always seek help outside herself.) So, because of her programmed beliefs, after Grendel fell, Siena kept saying to her, “Grendel, you can heal yourself.”
Then, four days later, after Grendel had been progressively improving, she woke up severely short of breath. As we were racing her to the vet ER, I was explaining to Siena that although I believe it’s almost always possible for the mind to heal the body, sometimes all of our best efforts to make this happen leave us still sick. And because we want to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to optimize our chances of getting well, especially when a life may be at risk, we often need to seek outside help.
The Million-Dollar Question
Siena said, “But Mama, how do you know when it’s okay to heal yourself and when you need a doctor to do it for you?”
I told her sometimes you need to do both at the same time, and only after you’ve tried both and observed the outcome, do you know the answer. It’s not worth putting Grendel’s—or anyone’s—life at risk just to test the power of the mind. Healing is not some competition to see who is more powerful—the doctor or the patient. The goal is recovery from the illness, or at least amelioration of suffering since sometimes it’s part of our spiritual journey to experience illness or even death. Sometimes to get better, employing the power of the mind just isn’t enough.
The Full Court Press
Once we were at the veterinary ER, the veterinarians started doing their thing. Order X-rays. Insert IV. Push Lasix. Rub on nitroglycerine. Stick a needle in the heart to remove fluid from the pericardium. Do what doctors do.
In the end, it wasn’t enough. The veterinarians couldn’t heal Grendel any more than Grendel could. The same sometimes holds true for humans. Sometimes we’re just supposed to stay sick; it’s part of our spiritual path here on this earth. Other times, it’s just our time to go. But as I sat on the other side of the doctor-patient relationship in that vet ER, I realized something very valuable about seeking medical attention outside the power of the mind, especially when it comes to medical emergencies.
The Value of Doing Everything You Could
If I had kept Grendel home, instead of admitting her to the veterinary ER, the outcome would have been the same. Grendel would have died a tragic, premature death in my arms (and we would have saved thousands of dollars). But had I made that choice, I might not have known that the outcome would be no different. I might have made up all these “what if” stories in my mind. What if Grendel’s respiratory distress was from something treatable like pneumonia? What if all she needed was a good cardiologist and some drugs to give her another few good years? What if a simple surgery could have saved her life? What if withholding the full court press from her caused her to die a preventable death?
I know “what ifs” don’t serve anyone. But I try to live my life without regrets, and the minute I saw my pup sucking in the skin around her rib cage with each labored breath, I knew I wanted to be able to reassure myself, no matter what happened, that I had done everything I could to help my beloved pet, as long as it didn’t sacrifice her quality of life. (I was very clear that I would draw the line at anything that prolonged her life at the significant expense of her quality of life.)
Peace = Medicine
Even though veterinary medicine did nothing to save Grendel, I have peace in my heart knowing that they tried, that we hit the limit of what modern medicine has to offer. It made me wonder how much of the true value of what we offer in human medicine rests in the same reassurance of knowing you did everything you could.
Think about most life-threatening illnesses. Yes, some people with cancer are cured with modern medicine. Others succumb to their cancer anyway, but those who sought treatment can at least rest assured that they maxed out everything technology has to offer. The same is true for people with heart disease and strokes and other big killers. Much of the time, we can’t cure these patients, but we can do what we can, and they, along with their loved ones, can breathe, knowing we did what we could, even if it often isn’t enough.
When to Heal Yourself; When to Go to the ER?
So how do you make the decision for yourself? When do you take measures to heal your mind with the hopes that the body will follow? When do you rush to the doctor and put your body in her hands?
Here’s my take on it all. Unless you’re a risk taker willing to live with the possible regret of “what ifs” that accompanies avoiding or denying medical treatment, go to the doctor. Find out your options. Do what you can to support your body biochemically so you can buy time for your mind to do its part. Tap into your Inner Pilot Light and get your own intuitive read on the best course of action for you. Then, if it’s aligned with your truth, get the surgery. Say yes to the chemo if the prognosis is good. Try the drug. See what happens.
Heal the Mind Simultaneously
But don’t stop there. Do the deeper work. Diagnose the real reason you might be sick. Get to the root of what could be underlying your illness. Ask yourself the tough questions. Be willing to stare your truth down. Be brave enough to make choices that align your actions with your truth. Otherwise, the surgery and drugs may help you recover from one condition, only to get sick from another because you haven’t really healed the real reason you’re sick.
I go into much more detail about how to heal the mind and, with it, the body in Mind Over Medicine, but until then, ask yourself the #1 most important question: What does my body need in order to heal? Be fearlessly honest with yourself. Listen up. That’s your Inner Pilot Light speaking.
What Do You Think?
I could write volumes about this subject, but I’ll stop here and let you take over. So please, I’m still learning. Share your thoughts. Teach me what you know. Let’s all explore this tricky subject together. I’ll be there in the comments to facilitate the dialogue, so let’s get down and dirty on this. Tell me what you think.
Lissa Rankin, MD is the creator of the health and wellness communities LissaRankin.com and OwningPink.com, author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself, TEDx speaker, and Health Care Evolutionary. Join her newsletter list for free guidance on healing yourself and check her out on Twitter and Facebook.
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