Friday, August 12, 2011
Healing Visualizations: Chronic Ailments
What is commonly called "western" medicine (don't know why) or "traditional" medicine (it certainly isn't) is actually emergency medicine. It is designed to cope with serious, acute situations. This is why "western" medicine is so extreme. For a broken arm, cancer, a heart attack, or pneumonia, I am very much in favor of emergency medicine; by all means set the arm, remove the tumor, scoop out the clogged artery, douse the patient with antibiotics. Oh yeah. I am a truly holistic practitioner: I believe we need ALL kinds of medicine.
However when it comes to chronic conditions, "western" medicine is not effective. In fact, that approach can make things worse.
Everyone has some kind of chronic this or that - conditions that won't kill you, or even set you back so much, but they flare up repeatedly. For instance: allergies, indigestion, low-level headaches, sciatica. I could go on, but you get the idea. If you try to treat these conditions with "western" medicine, they will either overmedicate you (never to great effect) or send you away after telling you there is nothing wrong (as if you would make the appointment just for the hell of it). They might tell you the condition is stress related. Is that helpful?? Sometimes the "western" medical approach is to run people through so many horrible medical tests that finally an emergency situation arises which can then be treated.
For chronic conditions, go see the acupuncturist, massage therapist, osteopath, homeopath, physical therapist, psychotherapist. These modalities are often described as "alternative" but actually they are more traditional than "western" medicine, older and definitely more effective for chronic conditions.
Visualization for Chronic Conditions
This one is very fun, depending on how willing you are to use your imagination. To deal with chronic conditions, you must open your mind, you must be willing to entertain images that go far beyond the usual pathological definitions. If you can look at your chronic condition as a code, a symbol of something you're working through at a very deep level, it can help you learn to manage the condition, or propel you into making an appointment with a healer who can help you.
Take a few deep breaths, close your eyes. Ask yourself, If life were a dream, what would my chronic condition symbolize? Play with metaphors, such as "pain in the ass," "broken heart," "under the weather," "that makes me sick." Can you find a metaphor for your condition?
Ask yourself, If my condition was an animal, what would it be? What color would it be? What emotional state best characterizes this condition? When you're suffering with your condition does it piss you off? Make you depressed? Is it seasonal? Do you get your chronic headache every day at 4 pm? Is your neck stiff in the mornings only?
Think of yourself as an FBI profiler, creating a comprehensive picture of your chronic condition. Unlike a "western" doctor, the acupuncturist, massage therapist, osteopath and homeopath will be very interested in your imaginative characterizations. Possibly more important is that by working with active imagination, your relationship with your unique chronic ailments will develop. A lot of people, once they're told by their primary care doctors that nothing is wrong, do their best to ignore the little, persistant sniffles or stomach aches. I'm not saying that's wrong; some things must be tended, others not so much. What I know for myself is that if I get curious about anything, that state of being creates space into which something new can occur to me. Don't give up on yourself. Pain is a message from the body. I think it's right to pay attention.
We are complicated beings. An exclusively pathological approach can only take us so far in the quest for gracious good health. In addition to being annoying as hell, chronic conditions can be teachers that help us put together the complex puzzle of who we are. Open your mind, have some fun with it, engage your imagination. Then go see someone who can help, yes? I say yes.