I am currently reading the book Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, MBSR, a mindful meditation program that I am currently taking, and I came across this paragraph that I thought was worth sharing with all of you:
“You probably won’t be surprised to learn that the word health itself means ‘whole’. Whole implies integration, an interconnectedness of all parts of a system or organism, a completeness. The nature of wholeness is that it is always present.
“Someone who has had an arm amputated or has lost some other part of the body or who face death from an incurable disease is still fundamentally whole. Yet he or she will have to come to terms with the physical loss or the meaning of the prognosis to experience that wholeness. This will certainly entail profound changes in one’s view of oneself and of the world and of time, even of life itself. It is the process of coming to terms with things as they are that embodies the process of healing.”
When I came across this paragraph while reading these pages, on a stormy day, something about it struck me as containing a relevant naturopathic Truth (with a capital “T”). Oftentimes, as naturopathic doctors and clinic interns, we get stuck on prescribing the supplements, diet and botanicals, working with the patients, all of us with the best of intentions, to make their symptoms go away. We focus our attention on trying to fix our patients’ ailments, to change them in some way – to lose weight, remove their pain, heal their digestive system or clear their skin.
This quote serves as a reminder that our job as facilitators of naturopathic medicine is really to help patients let go of that need to change their bodies and accept their wholeness by understanding that they are already perfect; their bodies, as entities of nature, already hold the blueprint to health, the vis medicatrix naturae. Our remedies are not given on the basis of changing things, but simply to remove obstacles to healing, healing that our bodies are perfectly capable of doing on their own. It turns out that cure is not established by prescribing the right tincture, or choosing the right acupuncture protocol, but perhaps can be accomplished only when we let go of trying to resist and change our bodies and simply learn to accept what is, our wholeness and our body’s way of being.
One of my yoga teachers once said, while she had our class perform a seated forward bend, “let go of whatever issues you might have towards your body and just breathe into what is.”
It seems that learning to breathe into what is might, in fact, be the key to healing.
I find that practicing regular Body Scan Meditations has allowed me to better accept my body, helping to facilitate an improved state of health and vitality. Here is a free resource of Body Scan audio recordings that can be done on your own, during patient visits or recommended to patients as homework.