Breaking Thru The Healing Barrier

Breaking Thru the Healing Barrier
by Neil F. Neimark, M.D.

Within each one of us there lies a “healing system” capable of fighting off
disease, combating infection and bringing us greater energy, vitality, and
well-being. In any medical text we can read about the “digestive system”,
the “circulatory system”, or the “nervous system”, but nowhere can we find
a chapter on the “healing system”. Yet it is this very “healing system”
which allows all our other “systems” to function with brilliant precision.
Our healing system is the organizing force through which all our body
systems function with a deep intelligence and miraculous sense of balance
and wholeness.

Bernie Siegel, M.D., the famous Yale surgeon and author, speaks of this
healing system eloquently when he says “as a surgeon, I cut into the body
and I rely on it to heal. I don’t have to yell into the wound and tell it
how to heal.” The body, in its own infinite wisdom, knows how to heal. The
healing system lies within us. Our body has its own natural ability to
heal. Though in certain situations, surgery or drugs may be life saving, it
is our internal healing system which allows ultimate life.
We all know of patients who have lost the “will to live”. No matter how
valiant the efforts of medical experts, how advanced the technologies, how
genuine the prayers of friends and relatives, these patients will continue
on a downhill course, until and unless they find within themselves some
sense of meaning with which to embrace life and connect to something
greater than themselves, something greater than their sense of illness or
despair. It is this “will to live”, to prosper, to grow, to contribute, to
engage life with passionate involvement, which most directly contributes to
the overall health of our “healing system”.
Norman Cousins, the great author and humanitarian says that “the highest
exercise of a physician’s skill is to prescribe not just out of a little
black bag, but out of his or her knowledge of the human healing system”. It
is this knowledge of the healing system that distinguishes the technician
from the healer. We recognize the doctor as “healer” by what we call “good
bedside manner”, “compassion”, or “empathy”. It is in fact these qualities
in the physician that reflect his or her intuitive understanding that each
patient is an utterly unique individual, whose ultimate health and
well-being depends upon their unique lifestyle choices, belief system and
sense of purpose in life.
Cousins goes on to say “the doctor has a role beyond the prescription pad
to invoke the patients own bodily resources” for healing, the patient’s own
healing system.
“Healing” comes from the root word, “whole”, to be one. In searching out
our own individual path for health and healing, we will inevitably embark
on a journey that leads us into our own sense of wholeness, uniqueness and
self-discovery. It is important to understand that no two patients are
alike. In fact, two patients with the “same” diagnosis of migraine
headaches will, in most cases, require two completely different treatments,
based on their own unique stresses, genetic background and lifestyle
choices. So, in reality, two “cases” of migraine are two different
diseases. Healing, in its essence, is an adventure in self-discovery.
One of the greatest discoveries of the human potential movement is that as
new realities are demonstrated, new capacities come into being. How many of
you remember Roger Bannister? He was an Oxford medical student who was the
first person to run the mile in under four minutes. He broke the
“four-minute barrier”. Until that time, it was believed that no human could
break that barrier. No such reality was ever demonstrated. Now the most
fascinating part of the story is that within 46 days of Bannister’s
breakthrough, John Landing broke the four-minute mile. And now, at this
time, literally thousands of runners have broken the four-minute barrier.
So we see that as new realities are demonstrated, new capacities come into
The challenge for all of us is to open ourselves to the “new realities”
that have been demonstrated through recent advances in mind/body medicine
and psychoneuroimmunology. These new medical disciplines are beginning to
detail the many ways in which our thoughts, our feelings, our psychological
and spiritual beliefs affect our physical health. By recognizing these “new
realities” of what is possible, we can begin to develop “new capacities”
for health, healing and greater well-being. These new capacities can help
us access our own healing systems.
In ending, I want to relate a story that Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., a
physician and healer in northern California, tells. This is the story of
the acorn. For one moment, imagine an acorn trying to make sense of itself,
trying to understand itself, by describing itself. It might say “I’m about
1 inch long, flat on one side, pointed on the other, brown in color, hard
to the touch, etc. etc.”. But this description fails to capture the true
essence of the acorn. “It’s important to realize”, Dr. Remen says, “that an
acorn cannot make sense of itself without knowing about the oak tree and
without knowing that deep inside of itself, there is a mechanism waiting to
unfold which knows exactly how to become that fullness of expression” of
the oak tree. She says “there is an impulse, a yearning in each one of us,
towards our own wholeness”, our own fullness of expression. It is this
impulse, this yearning towards our own wholeness which leads us into the
healing process.
We can access our healing system, and begin the adventure into
self-discovery and wholeness, allowing us to fully realize our capacities
for health, healing and a sense of well-being.
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Breaking Thru the Healing Barrier

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