I have always believed that healing is an inside job, and have been excited by any teachings that might increase and refine my ability to experience it. Last month I mentioned the book by Bridget Hughes, Unlocking the Heart of Healing, and I want to share some of the ideas with you.
This isn’t new information, but the way she expresses it helps me feel it. I’m learning that feeling is one of the keys to healing.
Feelings can’t be controlled by willpower. They can’t be voluntarily made to order or turned on and off like a faucet. But we can change our feelings by our thoughts and our imagery. You may have heard me talk about the 3 V’s before – Verbalize, Visualize, and Vitalize. To verbalize is to use affirmations – positive statements that express what we want to experience. To visualize is to imagine something happening exactly as we desire it, or re-living an event that happened in the past. The purpose of both the verbalizing and the visualizing is to generate the emotion – to vitalize.
We often use the 3 V’s to create emotions we don’t want to feel. We relive events from our past that left us angry or sad. Or we worry about a potential event in the future and imagine the worst happening. We feel the emotion as if it is happening right now. What if we could use this same strategy to create healing instead of dis-ease?
Much research has demonstrated that our feelings affect our immune system and the bio-chemicals our bodies produce. In one study, subjects were shown to have increases in immunity after experiencing feelings of compassion, and decreases in immunity from feelings of anger. By thinking and visualizing, we can use our minds to “actually change the levels and quantities of substances our body is already making: our Inner Molecules of Medicine.”
This sounds so simple that sometimes I don’t take it seriously. I am writing about this to help remind myself how important it is. I want to remember that my body responds to an event in my thoughts as if it is actually happening in real-time. Our bodies don’t know the difference. The classic example of this is imagining a lemon, cutting it in half, and in quarters, sucking on the lemon, and feeling the saliva being released in your mouth. The body’s reaction is the same if there is a real lemon, or only an imagined one.
In her book, Bridget says, “Actively practicing a particular feeling that changes biochemistry and unlocks a new possibility for health through inner alchemy is one of the most valuable practices we can take on.”
Since I learn best by immersing myself in a practice, we are planning a retreat with Bridget in November. In the meantime, I have a goal of making medicine-generating feelings my habitual daydreams, and spending time each day focusing on words and images that make me feel good. I’m listening to an affirmation CD, imagining what I want to read on my next PET scan, and remembering events that make me feel happy. Instead of dwelling on my worries, concerns, likes and dislikes, I want to dwell on my celebrations, loves, generosities, gratitudes, and kindnesses.
My imagination may be my most powerful asset. It’s up to me to use it to heighten my healing ability.
As always, I welcome your comments; to reply please click here.
In the Spirit of Healing,
Jan Adrian, MSW
Founder and Executive Director
P.S. Last month I wrote that my mantra for this year is “Let It Be Easy,” based on Karen Drucker’s song, Let It Be Easy, which you can listen to here.