It is the primary role of the physician, whether the African witch doctor or the modern doctor, to entertain the patient while secretly waiting for nature to heal the disease.
-- Albert Schweitzer, physician, philosopher
How strange that we would produce the most profound medicine within our own bodies and then, somehow, forget to use it.
Your Power of Self-Healing
The marvelous pharmacy that was designed by nature and placed into our being by the universal architect produces most of the medicines that we need.
--Norman Cousins, editor, innovator, professor
Your body, in cooperation with your mind and spirit, is marvelously blessed with miraculous self-healing abilities. The body is the temple of your life. Mind and spirit are the dwellers within the temple. Mind and spirit maintain the temple. Mind's intelligence and spirit's inspiration vitalize and quicken the body. The three together--body, mind, and spirit--cooperate to produce the most profound medicine ever known in the history of the human race, right within you.
Any injury or illness is spontaneously cured when these naturally occurring self-healing resources are operating optimally. When you cut yourself, the wound heals automatically. When you have a sprain or bruise, it heals automatically. When you have a broken bone, the physician must set the bone correctly, but then nature heals it spontaneously. The famous sixteenth-century physician Ambroise Par said, "I administered the treatment, but nature provided the cure."
I had a personal revelation of this early in my own life. Through a series of sports accidents, one of my front teeth was broken off to halfits length. While the planning for a cap for the tooth was in process, the tooth actually began to grow. Over six months this tooth called on inner resources to grow past its normal size until it was as long as the other, unbroken front tooth. Some unexplained interaction of forces and elements caused this unusual healing event to occur. Science cannot explain much of what causes what we call healing. The "original cause" of healing, health, life itself, and the whole universe is unexplained. In ancient China this "original cause" is known as "mystery."
An inside joke in medical circles reflects on the healing power of nature: "With a doctor's expert care you should be better in a week, but without access to the marvels of modern medicine your recovery will require at least seven days." With or without a physician, with or without medical intervention, the natural medicine that we produce--our healer within--is working to heal us and sustain our health.
A wondrous self-healing mechanism has been built into us by the architect of the universe from the beginning of human history. This remarkable gift belongs to every person from birth. Unfortunately, most people have not known about this gift; it has been a secret. You, however, have entered into the circle of individuals who will make this secret known. Freeing the potential of self-healing in your own life and sharing it with your family and community will have marvelous effects.
Once upon a time and for many thousands of years, humans did not have fire. Much later, when only a few had fire, it changed the course of human history dramatically. Keepers of the secret of how to produce fire had tremendous power. Then, in anextraordinary historical moment, fire became the property of the many, rather than the few. Now anyone powerful enough to ask for matches at the corner store can have fire for no cost.
You are involved in an equally extraordinary and historic moment. The period in human history around the year 2000 will be remembered as the phenomenal time when the secret of healing became the property of the many, rather than the few. Once, long ago, the secret of fire was known only to a few; later, people discovered how to mass-produce matches. Now, the keepers of the secret of healing have made an equally profound discovery: the essential resources for healing, which are naturally occurring within each individual, can be activated purposefully at no cost.
When our natural healing ability does not function automatically, something is terribly wrong. Our spontaneous self-healing resources have become damaged or disordered. Formerly, we lived in a world where the only solution to this problem was thought to require physicians, hospitals, medicines, and tremendous expense. Now we know that the best, easiest, and least expensive cure is to rehabilitate the automatic healing capacity through self-healing methods. The simple practices of focusing on the breath, applying self-massage, gently moving the body, and deeply relaxing bring the natural relationship among the body, mind, and spirit back into balance.
In mild cases like stress headache, occasional constipation, colds and flus, aches and pains, insomnia, and anxiety, these self-healing methods can completely replace the need for medication. When medicine is necessary, self-healing methods complement and support the treatment. Mostmedications or medical treatments do not actually restore or fully heal our natural ability to sustain a high level of well-being. In addition, the possible side effects of many medications are frightening. If we really think about it, most of what we have come to call health care does not authentically and actually improve health.
Medical pain relief and medical reduction of symptoms are not typically accomplished by enhancing health. The surgical removal of a section of the colon or heart bypass surgery, for example, may save a life and reduce pain. Such procedures even improve quality of life and comfort level. But it would be false to say that these surgeries genuinely restore the original health of the person.
The use of pain medication does not actually eliminate pain; it only eliminates the "sensation" of pain while, we hope, the spontaneous self-healing ability of the body is actually improving health and eliminating the "cause" of the pain. Only rarely will physicians disagree with this idea. Unfortunately, until recently it has also been rare for the medical community to focus on and encourage self-healing practices.
Spontaneous self-healing ability is not a dramatic new scientific discovery. Nor is it a "New Age" phenomenon. Many techniques and methods for self-healing are quite ancient. As we learned from Patricia's story, which demonstrated the healing power of the breath, relaxation, and faith, there are potent messages in the Judeo-Christian traditions regarding the healing resources that we have within ourselves. In China and India, as well as in Africa, ancient America, Australia, and Europe, rich traditions of self-care and self-healing have existed sincelong before written history. One of the first things I learned about in the study of traditional Chinese medicine was Qi (Chi), which is the name for the medicine within. The process of cultivating the medicine within is called Qigong (Chi Kung).
For decades, we in the modern Western world have believed that medical science would invent better medicines and healing procedures than those automatically born within us. Given that cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes remain terrifying realities throughout our communities, we now know that the promise of medical science has been at least as much of a disappointment as it has been an inspiration. Exciting new scientific research and clinical experience show, however, that the most profound medicine is produced naturally within us through the collaboration of our own body, mind, and spirit.
Research of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, presented in the Healthy People 2000 report, states that over 70 percent of all disease is preventable (DHHS, 1991). Recently, the New England Journa
Includes bibliographical references (p. -255) and index.
Roger Jahnke, O.M.D., an internationally known doctor of traditional Chinese medicine, has lectured on Mind/Body medicine for nearly twenty-five years. He directs the Health Action Clinic in Santa Barbara; leads training at hospitals, corporations, and community agencies; and speaks throughout the world on self-healing, Tajii (Tai Chi), and Qigong (Chi Kung). He is a key Chinese medicine authority for the popular "HealthWorld" site on the world wide web.