How Seeing Illness As A Messenger Can Give You Hidden clues to healing mind body and soul
Many ancient healing cultures once embraced a different outlook. They approached dis-eases of body or mind not as enemies, but as valuable messengers, symbols of imbalances at all levels of life: body, mind and soul. Medical practitioners of ancient times were guides helping their patients listen to their dis-ease and heed its message. In ancient healing temples of Asclepius (named for the Greek God of healing), anyone in need of healing was led to a chamber and allowed to sleep, to dream, and receive symbolic visions from their unconscious. Patients in Shamanic cultures, even today, are led on spiritual journeys to receive communications from the higher parts of themselves for their physical, emotional and spiritual healing.
Modern science is now demonstrating that the body and mind affect each other in every moment. We know that emotional states like stress, grief, and chronic anger cause biochemical changes in the body that can lead to illness. But there may be more to the body-mind connection than chemistry. CG Jung, the father of Jungian Psychoanalysis described the body as an expression of the psyche. As an integrative Nurse Practitioner I’ve found that encouraging people to ask “How does what’s going on in my body reflect what’s going on in my life?” opens possibilities for healing the root cause of illness.
Here’s an example. In my integrative therapy practice I worked with a woman who suffered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and had tried countless treatments, conventional and alternative, to get rid of the debilitating fatigue robbing her of her life. Some treatments helped but nothing cured her. In our work together, she stopped fighting the fatigue and began to listen to it.
When she asked herself, “What am I tired of?” the answers appeared in her awareness: “I’m tired of trying to be someone I’m not for other people. I’m exhausted from taking care of everyone else but myself.” She would not have discovered these insights had she stayed so busy fighting the fatigue. As she began to listen to her illness as a metaphor for the underlying imbalances in her “bodymind,” she was able to address the critical root causes of her stress and depletion.
It is most useful to begin this work with a guide. Body-centered therapies like Bodymind Repatterning, Bioenergetics, Hakomi, art and dance therapy, and many energy healing and integrative bodywork modalities will explore physical and emotional issues from a body-mind-soul perspective.