I was not always the type of person who believed in things like Rapid Wound Healing, that I could have an experience where 5 shards of 400 degree glass that fused to my eye could heal almost simultaneously with their extraction. But one thing I’ve learned is that most of us are capable of stretching far beyond our current states of creativity, wholeheartedness, love, gratitude, compassion, inspiration and courage. When we do, dormant resources for healing become available. But life for each of us is touched in some way at some point, by illness, hardship or suffering. Many of us may harden a little in response to the hardships of life, maybe clench a bit with tension, or become a little too quick with cynicism, or too slow to hope. My own lengthy list of health hardships could have had me possibly classified as terminally ill by now, or incapacitated in a wheelchair. For several decades, in response to health challenges, I rendered myself very tense, very cynical, and very, very low on hope. Definitely not the type of person who would nod knowingly while shocked emergency room doctors gawked at my rapidly healed eye.
A year before the eye incident, inspired by ancient Chinese, Hawaiian, and Indian oral traditions that literally allude to a state of heart-mind-body that allows for the spontaneous healing and vaporization of illness, I had set out to understand whether there was anything I could learn to help “vaporize” even one of the 24 diagnoses I had managed to collect like curios or trinkets over the years. What I learned changed my life entirely, in ways comprehensible and in ways unimaginable.
Through what I learned, not only my eye but many disease processes in my body did reverse, minimize, heal, or vaporize. I tell those stories and many other stories of unusual healing of my patients and students in my book Unlocking the Heart of Healing (Healing Point Press, 2014). But when all is said and done, it wouldn’t have mattered if none of my symptoms had remitted nor diseases reversed. What I learned about how to live lit with life, open-hearted, whole-hearted, and holy-hearted, irrespective of circumstances, changed the quality of my living in ways I could not have conceived of, until I lived that change. I learned, in my body, not just as an idea or a concept, how infinite our capacity to open deeper into love, to drop more fully into our heart, and to live more vibrantly and vitally in our bodies, even as we age, decline, and die, can be.
The word “ectstatic” comes from the root word ek-static meaning “moving away from stasis.” I find this word characterizes the sense of freedom that wells up like a spring of living water in me these days. To live in this type of heart state that the ancients knew had the power to heal so radically changes our experience of life and living that it becomes possible to perceive–in a wild moment of truly ecstatic relief–that it is often the reducing valve of our own thoughts, feelings and expectations that sever us from inner freedom, not our particular details of hardship or suffering on which it is so enticing to put the blame.
The keys to unlocking this heart of healing can be learned and practiced. For me, for starters, I began to think of the symptoms of illness as my “yellow sticky note” reminders to practice. I was blessed with abundant yellow sticky notes nagging at me all day long. I used each mew of illness not as a call to fret, worry, and plan for a disabled future, but as a call to breathe more fully and deeply and to use my mind’s eye to locate a place in my heart where I could feel an authentic bliss and joy, awe and wonderment, gratitude and creative flow, and feel harmonized with all of life, even as suffering was also present. I call this practice of changing the feeling tone in our heart a Feeling Mantra. Because I used a Feeling Mantra when the hot shards of glass hit my eye, I never tensed up and constricted with panic, and I never flooded my nervous system with adrenaline and cortisol. As a result, circulation was unimpeded and my eye could receive the oxygen and nutrient rich blood flow it needed to heal so expeditiously that it seemed a miracle.
Science shows that even 5 minutes of experiencing feelings as simple as gratitude, laughter, or compassion is enough to ignite cascades of changes in our immune complexes, neurotransmitters, hormones, and countless other of the trillions of processes our body coordinates every nanosecond. Through practicing a Feeling Mantra, we can access this rich, extensive inner pharmacy. Though the diagnoses I received were real, serious, and proffered a plaintive invitation to fret, worry, and feel sorry for myself, inner states such as those came with too expensive a price tag for me to spend. Irrespective of my circumstances, I could not afford to forfeit what I came to think of as my Inner Molecules of Medicine.
My inquiry to learn to live in a heart-based state that engenders Inner Molecules of Medicine started as a quest for improved health. It resulted in so much more. As I practiced a Feeling Mantra over time, rewiring old thoughts, patterns, habits, expectations, and neural networks that had wired over years of familiarly habituated over-attentiveness to suffering, things began to pop open in my body like popcorn. Freeing habits of consciousness frees years of constraint, holding, and gripping in the body.
As I became more and more fluid with living free, the first place I could feel something pop open was in the region of my heart, allowing a much deeper and more continuous state of bliss-love in my heart. As my brow stopped furrowing so much and my thoughts lightened up, I felt something in my forehead pop open, and I suddenly could move out of an exclusively rational/linear/analytical way of living and open to a greater state of intuitive flow, a more effortless harmonization with the sacred pulse of life. When something in my pelvis popped open, I experienced surges of creativity, stamina and energy that had simply been clamped shut while I was busy living tight and small.
I walk around now gasping in amazement at the width, breadth and depth of joy this body still challenged with symptoms though healed beyond what is deemed possible has learned to experience. I joke with my patients, friends and family, “It should be illegal to feel this good!” I’m literally high on my own Inner Molecules of Medicine (endorphins are endogenous–internal– morphines!)
I’m not enamored with talking or writing much about the disease processes I have dealt with in my life; it’s not something I think much about on a day-to-day basis any more and the retelling of the experiences is not exactly Inner Molecule of Medicine engendering. However, I am keenly aware that when I teach students and patients, there is an almost reflexive universal tendency to defensively justify why inner transformation or healing would be impossible given their particular circumstance. It is often only after I start rattling off the lengthy list of disease processes I have grappled with that I receive a stunned, yet authentic, engaged listening. I know what is possible, yet few people actually free themselves from the constraints of their own beliefs and expectations. In the game of out-worsting that so many people seem compelled to play, I almost always come out highest ranked for number of justifications society would accept for living a lousy, joyless, long-suffering life. But there is another game, and that game, the game of How deep into an ecstatic bliss can I drop? How open to love can I render my heart to be? How can I dissolve my resistances, subtle holding back, and propensity to get stuck in boring expectation ruts? Can I become such a powerful presence that I convert my home, my workplace, and my community into high-five vibe places where people feel good just to be? That game, that level of play, requires an elite heart-mind-body trained athlete. Start cultivating a Feeling Mantra and be blown away by how the whole game changes.
To learn more about our most powerful inner keys to unlock often dormant inner resources for healing, my book Unlocking the Heart of Healing is available in print or for Kindle on Amazon or through my website at www.unlockingtheheartofhealing.com. To explore keys for Unlocking the Heart of Healing in depth and experientially, join me at an upcoming class in Columbia,
Maryland or on retreat at Westerbeke Ranch in Sonoma, California on November 6th–8th, 2016.