Many years ago, when I was working on my Ph.D. at BostonUniversity, I was out in my backyard making emergency repairs on the fence. It was a blustery, snowing Saturday afternoon in Massachusetts, and I wanted to make ensure that my growing German Shepard, a grandson of Rin Tin Tin, wouldn’t get out and get killed by a car on the highway nearby.
And that’s when I felt myself starting to get a sore throat.
I cursed to myself, “Damn! That is the last thing I need right now. I have to take comprehensive exams on Monday.”
Since my early teens, I had been getting at least three debilitating colds each year. They would always start out with a severe sore throat, develop into a horrendous cold, and often include laryngitis as well. Here I was studying for comprehensive exams, and I needed all my faculties to complete my preparation.
Then I remembered a directed study I had done the previous semester, which taught me that there was a mind/body connection in a few illnesses. I thought, “If there is an emotional component in stomach ulcers, skin disorders, and asthma, why not in colds and sore throats? Is it really possible that some parts of the body could be affected by my mental state but not others?” Since I knew that I did not consciously want to get sick, I began to ask myself a series of questions, sincerely seeking truthful answers. I asked:
“Why might I need this symptom right now?”
“What would it get for me?”
“What would it get me out of doing?”
“What emotion might be expressed in it?”
“What metaphor could be expressed through it?”
My first and most obvious thought was that I might want to get out of taking the comprehensive exams. Then I realized that I was 95% prepared, having given up many weekends studying for it, so I searched further for the answers, asking each of the questions of myself again
At that moment, I became aware of my neighbor looking out of her kitchen window, which overlooked my backyard, and I felt a pang of guilt!
“What could this be?” I questioned. “Why would her appearance elicit guilt in me?”
Somewhere inside of me I knew that feelings of guilt could be related to getting sick with various symptoms. Then I got my answer: I had promised to do something for her aged father, which I was planning to do the next week after my exams were over. I knew I would keep my work and was not trying to get out of doing these things for her father. I now realized that I projected other thoughts only my neighbor. I imagined that she was thinking, “How could Henry be out there in this horrible weather, doing something for his dog, when he has not done what he promised to do for my father?”
I realized that my irrational ego-mind might be concluding: “If I got sick, I could justify my not having done what I had promised to do. I would then have an excuse.”
That is when I realized, “I don’t need an excuse. I’m not trying to get out of this promise. I know I keep my word about such things. I have just projected other thoughts onto my neighbor. I don’t even know what she is thinking!”
So I asked myself, “Would I like to deal with this conflict within me by paying the price of being sick?”
“No way!” I concluded. So then I asked, “How would I prefer to deal with this situation, then?”
I decided that when I finished my repairs on the fence, I would go inside and phone my neighbor to let her know I had not forgotten my promise to her father, and that I was planning to come over on Tuesday and do those things for him. Within about twenty minutes all my symptoms went away, the first time ever, and never developed into one of those severe colds as it always had in the past. I was so excited to declare that the symptoms were gone. Even more importantly, I have never had another one of those severe sore throats and colds, and it has been several decades!
Cause and Effect
Since that time, whenever I begin to get a symptom of any kind—whether the sniffles, a beginning sore throat, a pulled muscle, a problem with digestion, an injury or accident, or something more serious—I know that the reality is not as simple as “I caught the flu from someone who hugged me,” or “I pulled my back because I bent the wrong way,” or “my stomach is upset because I at some bad food.”
Think about it: How is it that when a virus is going around, some people get sick, but the overwhelming majority do not? Why is it that when several people are sneezed upon, one catches a cold while most do not? How is it that doctors can make their rounds in hospitals, surrounded by all sorts of contagious illnesses and diverse bacteria, but rarely contract those illnesses? To “catch” something requires an effort to reach out and grasp it!
And, for that matter, how is it that a person can lift an automobile off someone single handedly in order to save a person’s life, when we “know” it is not possible to lift so much alone?
Why do some people living near a toxic chemical environment get sick and others living in the same neighborhood do not? Why?? Because it is the mind that rules with power most of us are afraid to embrace.
The Impossibility of Separating Mind and Body
I have found that repeated colds, viruses, allergies, backaches–even with degenerated discs–are just not necessary! Nor are so many of our more serious and even life threatening illnesses inevitable and incurable, as commonly believed.
I have discovered that I am much more than my body, and that my body responds to thoughts and beliefs in my mind. And in particular, when we have disturbing stressful experiences and traumas, we are likely to get sick quite soon if that trauma is not cleared, which can easily be done with one of the newer methods available for doing just that. My negative, painful experiences lead me to draw negative conclusions which fuel negative thoughts, all of which go directly into the seventy trillion cells, instantaneously. Researcher Dr. Candace Pert, when she was at the National Institute of Health, discovered the role of the neuropeptides, the instant messaging system in the body. Every thought we think and every emotion we feel is immediately communicated to these cells—right into the body. Dr. Pert even concludes that “the body is the subconscious mind.”
So, one of the man reasons we continue to get sick over and over again, or have difficulty healing—not just physically, but also emotionally, in relationships, and even financially—is that we have not identified and cleared the largely unconscious barriers that are stopping us from thinking, believing, and doing what it would take to be happy, healthy, and prosperous. In fact, researchers at the Yale University Medical School’s department of Preventive Medicine, have concluded that less than 2% of all people do what they know to do to keep healthy.
The Seven Questions
I use the following seven questions endlessly, any time I get the slightest symptom, to unveil my own unconscious psychological perspectives. I have used these questions for decades, and I recommend you do the same.
Be sure to ask them frequently and sincerely, with a total degree of curiosity and openness, even to the most irrational answers. Be determined to continue until you get your answer. And now that this is an important step, though usually just a first step, in identifying the barriers to health and healing.
- Why might I need this symptom, and why now?
- What do I hope it will get for me?
- What will it get me out of doing?
- What emotion or need is it expressing for me which I have not dealt with consciously and healthily?
- What is the metaphor being expressed through these symptoms?
- What is the family, tribal, or cultural belief involved in this symptom?
- What is the recent or ancient disturbance or trauma that has not been cleared?
Making a Commitment
Let me reinforce here that dis-covering (not re-covering) the “why” answer to the Seven Questions is usually not enough. It is just the answer to our curiosity and is the first step. We most often need something more in order for self-healing to occur. I have found that I need to make a commitment to myself to deal the answers to those questions in a constructive, responsible and thorough way, not just running to the doctor to get it fixed for me. That make get me relief from the symptom, but it will not get to the cause, which can prevent recurrences and bring quicker and deeper health. Each time I seek sincerely and thoroughly the answers to those questions, and commit myself to dealing with each and all of them differently, my bodily symptom just goes away, for I have no more need for it. It is the mind which rules the body; the body does not rule the mind.
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