Why did you name the book, Spirit Heals?
It was the most direct way of conveying my message, which is that Spirit–the power of Love within–is the single most important healing tool that we have. Spirit can refer to God, Divine Intelligence, the Creator or merely Love and Compassion personified. The understanding that we have within us what can heighten our healing response to whatever ails us–physical illness, emotional up-set, or spiritual disconnection, is essential to being happy.
Can you describe what you mean by healing since you talk about it apart from physical healing?
Healing means coming into wholeness by simplifying our thoughts, finding peace within the circumstances we face, and opening our deep heart and Spirit to mend our disconnection from the essence of all life–Love.
Love is the energy of Spirit, the Great Mystery, God, the Tao, the Source of all life and beyond that is meant to blossom our lives.
Our healing is a continuing process, as our physical health waxes and wanes and our mental and emotional well-being rises and falls. Healing means we become more aware of when we feel off-balance and then become equally present to the practices and shifts in behavior and attitude that return us to balance. Balance is only obtained when our lives are in alignment with our inner still point.
Our physical healing is promoted as we shift our perspective from pain, fear, and loss to inner strength, joy, and opening to Grace.
Our mental and emotional healing comes from rebalancing our thoughts and feelings to be in touch with our wisdom mind rather than our self-critic. Through this process we become more aware of the true power and presence we possess. We recognize that we are completely safe and have the authority to be fully engaged in our life journey.
Our spiritual healing comes from opening our deep heart to love, joy, and meaning, which allows us to love all and to serve all.
All healing is a process of waking to our innate goodness, our potential, and our means of living a complete and fulfilling life.
Healing is what we are all doing–all the days of our lives.
Why do mind-body imbalances sometimes manifest as diseases?
The body is the container for our thoughts, feelings and spiritual development. The body is sensitive to all of this input in addition to our physical circumstances such as what we eat, the environment in which we live, the level of pollution, etc. But how we internalize the events of our lives either enhances the flows of energy in our body or diminishes them.
We use to talk about A-type personalities, for example, as being susceptible to heart attacks. What we were really saying is that our stress and anxiety has a direct relationship with our heart and circulation. Another good example is what is now called broken heart syndrome. Researchers at John’s Hopkins University reported on patients who did not have any kind of heart disease, but developed life-threatening heart attack symptoms from emotional stress alone.
Why do women find it difficult to make time for themselves? (tend and befriend)
In a positive sense, women don’t slow down because they both give to and receive energy and delight from the family and community groups they belong to. As women, we do take on too much, because we’re interested in so many different things. But also there is a biological component that is very relevant and interesting and indicates why as women we tend to take on the needs of others thus reducing the necessary time for ourselves.
For many years, it’s been believed that the universal human response to stress was fight or flight. Faced with a wooly mammoth, we instinctively either pull out a spear and attack or run for the nearest cave–fast. However, while this stress response is accurate for men, it turns out that women actually respond very differently: studies show we tend and befriend.
In a landmark University of California study in 2000, six researchers, who coined the term tend and befriend, proposed that while women are bio-chemically alerted to stress from within their own bodies, their response is different from that of men. Rather than fighting or running away as their first line of defense, they tend to make allies and interface with others within social groups in order to minimize stressful conditions. The researchers found that women under stress release a hormone called oxytocin–which can be thought of as the tend-and-befriend hormone because it has a calming effect. By contract, while men under stress do produce oxytocin, it is overridden by testosterone, and so the calming effect of oxytocin is lost.
Men, it seems, are biologically programmed to defend, attack, or flee when threatened. Women are biologically programmed very differently. Perhaps because women are the ones who carry the child inside, nurse babies, and care for small ones, they aren’t programmed to attack or run. When an enemy threatens, a woman’ response is to tend the community and to befriend and transform the danger. Her greatest strength comes from making peace where she stands, finding ways to solve the conflict while protecting those in her charge. In the face of danger, a woman doesn’t fight or flee and risk abandoning her children or other community companions; instead she seeks to bridge differences and solve problems differently.
As we accept that our well-being is equally important to that of others, we can pay special attention to ourselves at the same time we tend and befriend those we love and care about.
What is the way to be our own best friend–to give ourselves the best advice–and actually take it?
In Spirit Heals, I talk a great deal about the difference between our personality or self-critic and our wisdom mind which is our true intelligence. Our true intelligence is fed from our Spirit through our intuition or what I call intuitive perception. Let me tell you a little about intuitive perception because it is only through this channel that we can both sense the best advice and also trust the importance of following that advice.
Intuitive perception is a finer gradation of intuition. We think of intuition is a means to understand when we’re headed in a wrong direction, or to alert us to the desired direction we should move. Intuitive perception tells us why we are going in the wrong direction or more of the details of how and why we need to move in a different direction.
For example, we might have a sense that we should do a better job of standing up for ourselves in a situation with someone who overrides our ideas and opinions. Intuitive perception comes from checking inside to sense what is really going on. When we do this inner search for understanding, we can leave behind some of the anger, fear or blame because we really want to understand–we want a truer perspective.
We might realize, for instance, that the person who we’re having a hard time with is just like a girl who bullied us in third grade. We were unable to help ourselves then but now, we accept the problem lies with the other’s lack of ability to read people’s emotional needs.
Finding a teachable moment becomes the action of choice rather than blasting them or ignoring them or steaming inside about their lack of respect for us.
And so being our own best friend means making the decision to listen inside for all our guidance just engaging our intuitive perception, which gives us a meaningful perspective and something to work with to ease the tensions that tend to over-ride our good sense.
How can a woman build an effective support network?
Women almost always have support networks. The challenge comes from times when we are between networks. We may have had a network in college and then we moved across country and lost touch. We may have had a great network at our last job and then we were laid off and now we’re out of the loop. We may have found our network during our chemotherapy treatments and now we’re supposed to be healthy and go our own way. We may have been married and our support network focused on shared family experiences and now we’re divorced and find ourselves excluded as if we’d never been part of the family unit.
We really need to recognize that we are creating blended support networks and it is essential to picture ourselves standing in the center. The friends and helpers, wherever they have come from all love us and want to help. Our support network can be our medical advisors and doctors, it can be therapists or those we talk our troubles over with and our spiritual director, rabbi, priest or minister. The most important part, however, is to realize that we are the one who is saying yes and no to all that is offered and suggested.
What is the best way to work with medical professionals and not lose your own voice?
Medical professionals are aware of, and for the most part, interested in better understanding what I call the art of healing. Here in the west we base our medicine primarily on the science of healing which includes those treatments grounded in scientific proof of usefulness. Sometimes, however, doctors realize that the science doesn’t give them the tools they need to offer patients what can really help them. They prescribe the best of what they know.
But this is a new day when modalities that are non-invasive and non-chemically based can be helpful to patients. Doctors haven’t been schooled in these complementary treatments, but that isn’t to say that they don’t want to learn or discover new ways to help our healing.
Also, when we are with those trained in this western medical model, we need to be authentic but respectful which always brings out the best in others. Doctors and healers are no different. Sometimes we assume that the research we’ve done and the point of view that we hold is the only way to look at something. We go to doctors for their assessment from all the years of schooling and practice. But we need to be sure we are asking them to be a doctor and not God.
By Meredith L. Young-Sowers
October 2007 · Personal Growth/Women’s Interest/ Health · Trade Paper
$15.95 · 304 pages · ISBN-13: 978-1-57731-577-3