The Healer Within

“The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.”
-Hippocrates

Today, many of us place a great deal of power in the hands of doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies in order to “get healthy.” Turning to external resources for help seems to be the norm. Feeling sick? Schedule a doctor’s appointment or pop a pill and you’ll feel better. Sadly, many of us have lost track of the incredible capacity of the human body to heal itself.

self healingIt is fairly easy to recognize our body’s ability to heal itself naturally. If you’ve ever watched a bruise turn from dark purple to yellow and then disappear, or a cut slowly close up as if it was never there – you know what I’m talking about.  Cells get disturbed or injured on a daily basis and heal themselves by changing back to their original shape or replicating to make new cells. This dynamic process is, perhaps, one of the greatest abilities of a living body.

Dr-Andrew-WeilThere are countless ways in which we can heal ourselves. Stop smoking and oxygen-rich blood once again begins to reach your heart and repair the tissue damaged by cigarettes. Adopt a proper diet and exercise regime and you can significantly increase your life expectancy and overall mental and physical health.

Modern healthcare is, thankfully, placing an increasing amount of emphasis on these self-healing techniques.  Dr. Andrew Weil, who generously authored the forward to my book Sustainable Wellness, has dedicated his practice to “developing an integrative approach to health that emphasizes the body’s innate ability to adapt, change and heal.” Along with a growing number of healthcare experts, Dr. Weil has been working to develop healthcare systems that “encourage the individual’s responsibility to prevent illness and reverse disease conditions.”

Dean OrnishNutrition is one aspect of self-healing that is receiving a great deal of attention. In this Ted talk, Dr. Dean Ornish talks about simple ways to take advantage of the body’s natural desire to heal itself. His research at the Preventive Medicine Research Institute clinically demonstrated that cardiovascular illnesses — and, most recently prostate cancer — can be treated and even reversed through diet and exercise.

Mind-body work is also a highly effective means of healing ourselves.  Yoga, meditation, guided imagery, breathing techniques … the list of ways in which we can contribute to our own healing is virtually endless. So too is the list of health challenges that can be addressed – everything from stress to chronic pain, weight to depression. For the skeptics, research has proven the effectiveness of such behaviors. For example, researchers studying injured athletes found that those who adopted techniques like maintaining a positive attitude and using mental skills healed more rapidly following injury.

In this time when our nation’s health is declining at an alarming rate, we must become invested in our own healing. Recognizing our own ability to heal empowers every human being to take control of their health. Granted, there are times when illnesses demand the assistance of doctors and medications. However, as Dr. Weil states in my book, “All of us have the innate capacity for healing…. To maintain optimal health, we need to trust the wisdom of the body and its capacity for self-healing.”

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