Exercising Self-Control for Greater Wellness
Modern medicine has brought us revolutionary advances that support better health. But, is the health that modern medicine supports what we mean by true healing? I think not. True healing is not just revolutionary but actually evolutionary. Over millions of years, we have gradually evolved to become self-organizing creatures capable of self-correcting and self-healing in the face of the vast majority of problems that beset us.
Rachel Naomi Remen, MD marveled at her biological self-healing capacity while recovering from major abdominal surgery and described this in her essay, A Front-Row Seat. We are not fixed and static beings. We change and adapt to new experience. We continue to grow and evolve throughout our lives. In the process, we remake and reinvent our physical and perceptual selves. In short, we self-organize and can learn to self-heal over and above what modern medicine is able to offer.
Nowhere is this ability to self-organize more important than when it comes to our brains, which function as the master coordinators of every aspect of our being. While we might reflexively turn to medicine’s wonders when facing an illness, we do a disservice to ourselves and our whole health when we overlook the awesome potential residing in our capacity for evolutionary, self-directed, self-re-organization.
Tapping into our ability to re-organize our brains, our minds and the physical functioning of our bodies is more accessible to us than most people realize. In earlier blogs, I’ve written about some of the practices that develop our self-organizational skills (i.e., meditation, contemplation, private self-reflection, hypnosis & trance, and even gentle mindful movement). Personally, I use different methods at different times, depending upon my mood, my energy, my circumstances or my particular needs at the time.
Regardless of the specific skill I practice, they all share a particular benefit. Self-regulation skills enable me to transform the experience that life is steamrolling me like the un-blunted spray from a fire hose. Each day has a constantly repeating flow. Clients to see. A business to run. A family for whom I want to do much more than merely show up. Friends with whom I want to engage. Bills to pay. Aging parents to love and support. Launching children. Household responsibilities to keep up. Sleep to obtain. Worries to manage. Energy to sustain.
This is no different than for most people and that’s the point. Life comes at us relentlessly and without pause unless and until we exercise some degree of deliberate and directed self-control.
Feeling Depleted by the Challenges of Staying Healthy
Most of my clients present to my office with problems affecting their physical bodies. Those threats also distort their mental/emotional focus. In addition to all of the items listed above that I face daily, my clients have the additional challenge of seeking to live their lives while simultaneously dealing with the loss of their health equilibrium. Most come to me seeing more than one physician. Many are using multiple medications. Almost all are quite depleted by their experience by the time they first see me.
Too many of them initially look at me through eyes that have learned to look at themselves by virtue of their experiences in the health care system: a “thing” on which I am supposed to act, not a person with whom I’ll co-create a unique response to their concerns. They look at what I can do for them but rarely express their desire to learn what they can do for themselves – at least initially. Just today, when I asked a new client how I could be helpful she replied, “I don’t know. My doctor said I should see you.” What a sad over-looking of her innate power to heal; a power we all possess.
That is why I was excited to read about a recent study showing chronic migraine sufferers who were taught to engage in meditation as a self-regulating, self-organizing practice. They experienced two important benefits. First, they were able to control their migraines better than those who relied exclusively on medication. Second, those subjects in the study who actively used self-regulation practices actually controlled their migraines well enough to reduce the amount of medication they used. (Click here for the study: http://bit.ly/2c3C1tU)
Learning True Self-Control on the path to Self-Healing
What’s the take-away? If you want to gain control of those life challenges that currently control you, it is time to begin exercising more self-control. Click below to go to the practice I’ve recorded to help you create needed space in your day and a momentary pause in the unending flow of time. The result? A refreshing experience of self-control. The pause is also a helpful connection to the space within you where true health and healing resides.