Healing Journey Level 6 – Appendix
The Psychological Basis of Self-Healing
We are exploring the impact that changes in our mental state can have on physical healing. In our materialistic culture, it is not reasonable to claim, baldly, that “the mind can heal cancer”: whether or not that is ultimately possible, we simply do not believe that mind alone can do it. But we can say, on the basis of clinical and research experience, that mental change has a lot of potential to assist our healing.
The way the mind exerts its influence is via repeated affirmations or messages in the form of the beliefs and expectations that we hold. We’ve seen how this can work in our attempts to change attitudes and behaviours; the process is analogous in physical healing. The first, and perhaps most important phase of our attempts to change either behaviours or physical symptoms is to diminish the constant stream of negative self-suggestions. For example, if we examine the inner monologue closely, we will often find that we are saying over and over to ourselves things like: “This cancer is bound to grow”, or “I’m afraid this will get worse, that I’ll suffer and die”. Such ruminations, going on largely out of our awareness, can act like directions to the “deeper” parts of the mind (what we have been calling the “inner Self”), which then tries to influence the body in the direction expected. We can see effects of this kind in hypnotised subjects; in a disease like cancer, it’s a chronic process, taking place over months or years. In a sense, we tend to hypnotise ourselves with our negative expectations. As Seth puts it: “You get what you concentrate on”. Notice he does not say “you get what you want”, because our “wants” are usually undermined by thoughts like “I’d like that, but I don’t believe it will happen”.
Having done the “diagnosis” – identifying and removing our constant negative suggestions, to the best of our ability – we move to “therapy”: replacing these with a stream of “positive” or optimistic projections. Note that we do not deny the possibility of disease progression and decline in health; we simply choose to focus on more positive outcomes, while at the same time accepting that factors beyond our control may prevent us achieving what we want. We resolve to “give it our best shot”, in other words.
The qualities of good healing suggestions are mostly common sense:
- We use mainly words (phrases) or visual images (some people may find they can also invoke a “felt-sense” of healing). Phrases are easiest to use as a constant refrain while we go about our daily tasks; imagery tends to require us to sit for a time and allow the mental pictures to develop.
- Phrases should be brief, clear, direct, unambiguous, and positive. For example: “I am invoking all the power I have to heal”, or “I allow my body to heal this disease”, or “I expect to return to health”…..everyone must devise personal affirmations in which they feel confident.
- The phrases or images should be coupled with a strong emotional charge: the image or words provide a “blueprint”, so to speak, while the emotion is the “fuel” that drives the desired change.
- We need to expect and believe that changes can happen. This is a complex matter, since we must, at the same time, accept that what we want may not come to pass. One way to resolve this is to affirm that whatever proportion of our healing is under our control will receive our total commitment and effort (and see the separate account below: “Reconciling beliefs and outcomes”). In practical terms, the more positive expectancy we can muster, the better.
- We need to allow time for changes to take place. The disease has a momentum that will take time to interrupt: think in terms of small, incremental changes, of gradual improvement. Recognize that we have spent decades thinking along certain lines, digging “deep ruts” in the mind, and that it will take time to climb out of these!
- The healing we desire needs to be tied to a sense of purpose and direction in our lives (and see topic 10). In all of this Healing Journey work we are trying to bring our lives into line with what is our true meaning or purpose – to be authentically ourselves. Ideally, we need to aim for a future life that develops our capacities and creativity, and benefits those around us, while being exciting and stimulating – a life worth living, in other words!
- Note that all of this reflects a willingness to engage with what is happening, as opposed to trying to cope by avoidance or denial. We engage with ourselves, expressing the emotions that come up, such as fear, anger and sadness, even when these seem temporarily unpleasant. We engage with the cancer, acknowledging its presence and threat, trying to figure out what it seems to “mean” or “want”, i.e. how it may be a reflection of some conflict in deeper parts of the mind (an example would be a disease that allows us to avoid certain responsibilities). We do our best to engage with, or open up to, the higher, more expanded dimensions of ourselves – the spiritual search.