Disease is NOT material

One of the most difficult concepts for people to wrap their heads around, is that the root or origin of disease is NOT material. Of all the concepts that Dr. Hahnemann laid down in his revolutionary system of Medical Heilkunst, this one gets right to the essence of what it is all about.

Hand-in-hand with this concept comes the idea that there is no such thing as ‘localized’ disease — in other words, if someone says they have a “liver disease”, or a “kidney disease”, this is, strictly speaking, not correct. What they have, instead, is one or more diseases which are manifesting in symptoms in the liver or kidney. This is why the surgical removal of a supposed “diseased” organ does not actually remove the disease which caused the symptoms in that organ, and now the manifestation of that disease has no choice but to show itself through a different organ or bodily system. As one homeopath once said, you can prune the apple tree, but this won’t prevent it from growing more apples.

The exact same concept is true in the treatment of cancer — while it may be necessary in a given case to remove a cancerous tumour or affected organ, such a removal of the physical manifestation of the cancer does NOT cure the underlying cancer process, which is systemic. This is why the unfortunate story in so many cancer cases after the supposed “cure” (through a combination of surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy), is that sooner or later, the cancer usually returns — either in the exact same place, or in a new location. While any number of physical therapies are necessary and helpful in treating cancer, they cannot succeed on their own without also employing a treatment protocol which is working to address the underlying disease itself — the nonmaterial root of the disease.

So, if disease is not material, then what is it? This is such a difficult concept for anyone in the Western world to grasp, where our implicit worldview for a number of centuries has presumed that the only thing real and knowable in the universe is matter — atoms and molecules, or even smaller building blocks which make up everything that there is. All diseases, within this worldview, are necessarily defined by a physical set of symptoms, and their causes by a material imbalance. Think of all the mental-emotional conditions, such as depression, which are now defined as imbalances in the brain chemistry.

At its root, what Dr. Hahnemann’s system of Heilkunst teaches, is that disease is an altered state of mind. Each disease originates in a uniquely altered state of mind, and is therefore cured by a remedy which contains that particular state of mind. Rather than using a generic remedy for “headaches”, each patient with headache is diagnosed based on their unique state of mind, and that remedy (which matches their state of mind) is the one which will be curative for their headaches.

This is also the basis for a true system of preventive medicine, as it is possible to identify and remove such a diseased state of mind before it has caused the formation of any symptoms. This is the reason that health is not simply defined as an absence of symptoms (which is a negative definition), but involves the unfolding of a positive state of mind involving multiple dimensions of our being.

So, here’s to your health, and not just to an absence of symptoms!

Hearing the Tone of the Patient

I wrote yesterday about the value of singing lessons in the de-armoring process, and included some of my own self-observations about the value that singing brings to my own health. Today I’d like to talk about another aspect of my personal history with music, and how it helps me with the diagnosis of the patient. I had spent a few years in university studying all aspects of music, from theory and ear training classes, to history and other cultural aspects of music. As any musician knows, the study of music contains many depths of worlds within worlds which can be further discovered and articulated, like the many layers of a peeling onion.

Take any single aspect of music (such as a particular piece of music, or a certain performer, or a certain genre, for example), and further study will always reveal depths of its uniqueness and character not immediately visible from casual observation. Not only at the musical level itself, but also the entire historical and social context from which the music came from. A well-trained musical ear will hear a piece at multiple levels at once.

These musical skills which I honed now find their way translated into new forms inside the consult room, when I am observing the tone of the patient as part of the diagnosis. So often, the real content of the case is not contained in any of the words the patient says, but rather in the tone in which they say it. So many people repeat the same scripts and narratives about themselves  and their lives which seem to portray a certain story, yet which is incongruent with the tone that they use to deliver it.

From one month to the next, when I am discerning the effect that the latest remedy has had on the patient, they are often repeating their same old story to me, yet the tone has shifted. The tone, and the underlying state of mind are always the first to be shifted by the remedy, which is then followed by a shift in the physical symptoms. This is the reason that I am able to be as effective through a phone consult as I am in person. Most patients do not at first feel their own shift in tone, while they remain focussed and stuck on the apparent lack of change in their physical condition. My well-tuned ears, however, are acutely sensitive to these small yet significant shifts, and I can often bring them into focus enough for the patient to see this within themselves.

It’s no accident that Dr. Hahnemann referred to disease as being a “mistunement” of the living power!

Learn to Breathe Like a Singer

The “homework” that I send patients home with, aside from the obvious recommendations for homeopathic remedies and dietary changes, can involve any number of specialized activities which have some purpose for moving their life forward. Various forms of recreational activities or participation in arts or cultural events can be included on this list, and taking up singing lessons is something that most of our patients could benefit from. Unfortunately, most patients, and most people reading this will have many excuses not to do this, everything from not having enough time, to being ‘tone deaf’, or to just being too shy to sing.

For those that do overcome these inner impediments, their health and treatment in general gets a major boost forward once they start to expand their breathing capacity through singing lessons, as well as start to activate their own range of emotional expression. These are very powerful ‘non-medical’ approaches to the de-armoring process, which gets to the heart of either preventing or reversing and uprooting chronic illness.

As Janet Kidd (who is a voice coach) recently wrote in her blog, the “stultification of energy is obvious in the bodies of most people in our culture”, and “I’ve often seen and heard wonderful singers who are very convincing, from the neck up” [emphasis added]. This is a clear image of the armoring process which most people are encased in to varying degrees. We are constantly dealing with patients who are “stuck in their heads”, and have little to no awareness of what sensations they have in their bodies or in their emotional minds. “How do you feel?” is a question that can often be answered only after a few moments of deliberation (and even more so in our male patients). It feels like some patients could use a sturdy shake to try to dislodge their awareness from inside their own head!

Janet Kidd in the blog post linked to above also says that singers need to “inhabit the lyrics and emotion of  a song…”, or we could say that the aim of Heilkunst treatment is to lead patients to the point of fully inhabiting the lyric and emotion of their whole life, fully embodied, and fully resonant. It’s no coincidence that both Heilkunst and music aim for a deep resonance in their respective activities.

There are many avenues to get at this fundamental disease of “stuck in the head”, and you can have a look at the interesting exercise which Janet suggested for re-connecting to your sensations of body awareness. Regular singing lessons are a great way to establish this at deeper and deeper levels, and assist in the great goal of retraining the dysfunctional breathing pattern that most adults take on. Shallow breathing functions to block off our own body awareness, and keep us stuck in our heads, and learning to sing forces us to break through this destructive habit, and progressively expand all of our life functions, as they are all dependent on proper expansion and oxygenation. I certainly notice the difference in myself between when I’ve been singing regularly and when I have not.

No more shallow breathing — I want to see you breathing all the way down to your toes!

Stories from inside the CoRe

For the past few years, I have been using the CoRe-Inergetix system with more and more of my patients, and am always amazed at how much clarity, depth, and speed of improvement it has contributed to my practice. The principles and map of medical Heilkunst are comprehensive, and invaluable for getting a patient from point A to Z in their healing journey, but even the clearest of maps still may not be enough for navigating some of the murkiest depths of complex chronic illness. Every patient’s terrain is unique, and finding the landmarks of health are not always as obvious as one would like.

The CoRe is quite a unique device, and as adaptable to different cases as the creativity of the practitioner might allow for. It is the only device in its class which can re-focus on all of the dimensions of the human being. The CoRe provides objective feedback to the physician about what is going on at this moment, as well as what the most significant long-term patterns are in terms of the patient’s broader emotional themes and archetypal patterns. The CoRe absolutely does not replace the participatory diagnosis of the physician, but acts more in the role of providing confirmation and clarification of the physician’s view of the case. Also, in terms of the specific emotional shocks or traumas on the patient’s time line, the CoRe is invaluable for confirming whether a particular trauma has been fully cleared with the remedies, or if a deeper-acting remedy is still required to complete the job.

While I usually feel a great synergy between my own thought process with the type of content that is coming up in the CoRe scan, I do regularly get results which seem to be coming from ‘left field’, and force me to stretch my paradigm of the case. Here, I often very tentatively ask the patient of there is anything in their life at the moment which is related to this (seemingly erroneous) content, and most of the time they confirm that it is very significantly related to what they are currently going through. I’ve learned to be less tentative and more trusting about these apparant anomalies, which usually point instead to an expanded and deepened understanding of the case.

As a mini-case example, I’ll illustrate part of the CoRe results that came up with one patient at one of their sessions. We we’re at a point where we were “in the thick of things”, as we were in the process of working through some of the more emotionally difficult aspects of their childhood, when this group of remedies came up together:

 

  • Dagger Hakea > negative: resentment / bitterness towards close family, friends, lovers // positive: forgiveness / open expression of feelings
  • Illawarra Flame Tree > negative: overwhelming sense of rejection / fear of responsibility // positive: confidence / commitment / self reliance / self approval
  • Round-headed Leek >For unknown difficulties stemming from childhood, particularly when other essences have been ineffective.
  • Unification>This helps to unify the mind-body-spirit, helping us to break free of previous restricting beliefs and patterns.
  • Spotted Orchid>To help us to overcome difficulties and blocks on our path of personal growth.
  • Gentian>For feelings of discouragement and doubt which may be caused by even small obstacles. The cause of depression is always known. Teaches confidence about the ability to overcome problems.
  • Hura : MIND; DELUSIONS, imaginations; confidence in him, his friends have lost all
  • Nitrogen– I feel trapped. I need to get out somehow.
While we were already clear about the nature of the emotions still stuck from childhood, this really specific formula was so accurate, and helped him not only to release that part of his childhood, but also to feel freer in his current life circumstances, which were still mirroring this original childhood pattern. I was pointed in the right direction, and addressing the correct emotional themes through the timeline, but such a specific result from the CoRe effectively turned my 60w desk lamp bulb into a 500w halogen floodlight to illuminate exactly what the patient needed to move forward. Most of the time, the readings are very congruent with what I and the patient already knew about where they were in their treatment, but it almost always gives an expanded level of detail which proves to be very useful in clearing the next layer with great speed and precision. The perfect clinic assistant!

What are you doing for the next 30 days?

I like this down-to-earth approach to changing habits, by taking on finite “30 day challenges”. Matt Cutts, who is the unoffical spokesperson for Google, illuminates some very useful points in this 3 minute video.

One of the biggest challenges with patients is to get them to make a diet or lifestyle change which will inevitably bring up a resistance either small or large. The idea of simply “trying” something for a brief period of time can sometimes be enough to get them over the hurdle from resistance to actually engaging, as the commitment doesn’t seem so monumental. As Matt pointed out, 30 days seems to be just about the right amount of time to make or break a habit, and the likelihood is high that the new habit will continue afterwards. And it’s so much better than the typical “…I know I should” resigned attitude.

I first saw this video a few months ago, and I was inspired to try a few of my own 30 day challenges. My most recent one has been to give up grains, which I’ve done before, but never on a permanent basis. The first couple of weeks of this challenge brought up all kinds of suppressed emotional content within myself, but since I’ve passed through it, it has been quite smooth sailing, and the cravings as well as the emotional attachments are gone at this point.

As we always advise patients, the best way to make changes that stick is to make progressively small, incremental changes over time, rather than cramming a huge life transformation into a short time (which always blows up on itself). These small, steady changes build self-confidence, and each new challenge becomes a little bit easier than the previous ones.

As Matt says — the next 30 days are going to pass, whether you engage in a 30 day challenge, or not, so why not give it a try?

Watching Heilkunst on TV : Columbo

Just one more thing……

The great truths of life are contained within all forms of art, including pop culture and television. Rather than taking them in as a mindless diversion to pass the time, well chosen entertainment can be a highly nutritious “food” for the mind. Whenever an aspect of Heilkunst, or even an expression of healthy life principles are illustrated in a TV show, I take note of it for my inner catalogue of living images.

In the classic 70s program ‘Columbo’, the main character is a homicide detective and cracks his cases using his seemingly natural talent for sourcing information through his emotional mind (what we call the ‘gemüt’ in German). This is very different from most of the current detective shows which illustrate an increasing dependence on methods favoured by the rational mind, such as forensics and various types of computer analysis techniques.

Let’s start with Columbo’s appearance: the suspects and witnesses who Columbo interviews are usually surprised to find out that he is a detective, as he does not at all look the part. He drives around in an old beat-up car, is always wearing a ruffled trench coat and usually smoking a cigar. His appearance is frequently compared to the look of “an unmade bed”. Nothing about his appearance is neat or tidy, as the rational mind would expect for someone in his position. This is a great way to artistically portray the fact that he is operating through a strongly dominant emotional mind, or through his gut instincts.

His method of questioning his chief suspect (who he always visits repeatedly to the point of their frazzled annoyance) always cycles through the various details of the murder, until the point where the intricately constructed “perfect crime” falls apart due to one or more details which don’t “add up”. It is Columbo’s emotional mind which brings these “hunches” back to his mind over and over, until he finally cracks the code of the criminal’s cover-up and is finally able to arrest them.

In each episode, Columbo seems to zero in on the prime suspect early on, but then spends the remainder of the episode trying to put all the pieces together to make a conclusive conviction. You can palpably feel his struggle to work his intuitive knowing up into his rational mind.

As in the science of heilkunst, correct diagnosis is dependent on the healthy emotional mind of the practitioner, who is also able to take that knowledge and then translate into terms of the rational mind. This is one of the most important part of Heilkunst diagnosis, which is aimed at getting inside the “living content” of the case which can not be revealed by the abstract label that most patients import from conventional medicine to describe their illness. Such empty and abstract diagnostic labels (which are the product of an intellect that is disconnected from an emotional mind) have no power to lead to a true cure, but at best shift symptoms around at the surface.

Oh, and just one more thing……

Living With a Sulphur

What’s it like to live with a Sulphur constitutional type? It’s certainly a question that comes up either directly or indirectly from patients all the time. The sulphur constitutional type (1 of 6 personality types which can be balanced by their corresponding homeopathic remedy) becomes the focus of so much attention due to the fact that they are the most radial of all the constitutional types. I use the term ‘radial’ in polar opposition to the term ‘spherical’, which is the polarity that all constitutional types are organized within. A radial force is one which pushes outward, as in the “better out than in” direction of cure we talk about with healing reactions. The spherical force is the opposite, and one which creates more of a space of containment or reserve. Every physiological process in our body is a meeting of these two forces.

Whether in the classroom, the family, or the workplace, the radial force of the sulphur constitution is very difficult not to notice. A sulphur lives directly in the “here and now”, which usually makes them very charming, or occasionally annoying to those around. A healthy sulphur is full of life, and are usually always in motion. The parents of sulphur children are usually asking for my help for developing coping strategies, and an unhealthy parent with a weak ego structure is easily buried by their vivacious child. For sulphur children, it is imperative that the parent constantly and consistently enforces appropriate boundaries around the sulphur’s world, in line with their age and stage of development. The radial force of the sulphur drives them to constantly seek out and touch all 4 corners of the world, and beyond, and will be constantly testing their parents and their limits. Slacking off on the boundaries is a grave error for the parent of a sulphur child to make.

While we’ve seen all sorts of conflicts and health challenges arise in children of every constitutional type as they engage with the “mass education” system, it is often the sulphur children that are the biggest cogs in the wheel of the system. These days, the proposed solution is usually an ADHD drug, or something similar, however this does not address the real disconnect between the needs of the student as a unique individual and the standardized curriculum. The sulphur child just happens to be the “canary in the coal mine” in this particular battle. All children have the same inner plea as do sulphurs, which is to be treated as an individual, and allowed to pursue their own interests. The sulphur child is just much more vocal about it, and the least willing to conform to external expectations.

In marriages, we have observed that each of the 6 constitutions naturally pair up in a pattern that repeats a majority of the time. Each constitutional pair is a set of a matching ‘radial’ and ‘spherical’ personality types which provide an excellent mutual point of balance. The radial sulphur constitution most frequently marries the spherical calcarea type, who are usually best suited for containing and organizing their energy and charge into more productive avenues. In return, the sulphur keeps calcarea away from their tendency towards inertia. Being a calcarea type myself, and married to a sulphur, I know this dynamic quite intimately!

As is true for every constitutional type, the knowledge that your spouse or child is a sulphur is extremely useful for understanding how to participate the relationship in a healthy way, rather than in a more reactive way to behaviours that otherwise don’t make sense.

As I mentioned, sulphurs live life in the moment, which means they live in their own sense of time rather than clock or schedule time. I used to be very frustrated by a friend of mine, before I learned about the homeopathic constitutions, and realized that he is a sulphur. Until then, I had always been so frustrated that he would always turn up late when we were meeting, as he was running on the inner time of his own world and experience. I learned that I needed to structure social meetings so that the meeting place was somewhere that I would have something to do while I waited for him to arrive.

Also, it may be good news for you to know that the healthier that a sulphur becomes through the process of Heilkunst treatment, the less “edgy” and difficult they become to deal with. Every constitutional type is actually quite a joy in a state of health, and there are no “good” or “bad” constitutions. A truer understanding of the essence of each type goes a long way in understand our self and others, and how to interact most harmoniously.

The First Consult is Like a First Date

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First dates can be full of so much anticipation, hope, and anxiety. It’s much the same the first time I work with a new patient. Most patients bring to me their sufferings, along with their hopes to find a cure for it. After the initial assessment, where I’ve learned as much about the patient’s health as possible and developed as clear a diagnostic and treatment map as I can, I send them off with my advice and remedies, with a full sense of anticipation for how they will be when they return 1 month later.

There’s a very subtle, but very crucial shift which I often discern when a patient returns for their first follow-up. As Dr. Hahnemann described it so beautifully in aphorism 253 of his Organon:

In the case of an ever-so-slight beginning of improvement a greater comfort, an increasing composure, freedom of spirit, increased courage, a kind of returning naturalness.

Often, it will be outside the patient’s awareness, and it takes some direction on my part to point out to them what I notice as having changed. Small differences such as the tone of their expression or body language, or even small shifts in some of the patterns of their symptoms they listed the previous month. Until these are pointed out, the patient often has not made contact with this within them self. This is very similar to the same thing I pointed out yesterday about not understanding the difference between a symptom of illness and a healing reaction. There are a certain number of patients who ARE in contact with themselves at this level, and return to the consult room bounding and full of excitement at what the remedy is starting to do for them, and they can’t wait to find out what we will be doing next.

These first remedies I give the patient behave very much as the military use of depth charges, which are used both to assess what’s below the surface, while also causing initial damage to the enemy. The subtle art of conversation on a first date often serves this role of planting certain “depth charges”, to test if certain undesirable elements are hidden below the surface, or if there is likely a safe passage forward.  The subtle and observable shifts and changes that the patient comes back with their second visit are very good qualitative indicators for where the disease has penetrated to different depths in the whole economy of the patient’s life energy. I always anticipate with excitement what kind of shift in their energetic picture the patient brings on their second date, and the much greater clarity I will now be able to bring to their treatment plan.

Is that a cold, or a healing reaction?

Another one of those “If I had a nickel…..” occurrences with patients:

Sneeze

Runny nose

When patients return for their follow up visit every 28 days, especially in the earlier phases of their treatment while they are still getting used to the new way of thinking about health that they learn with Heilkunst, we evaluate how they have responded to their remedies during the previous four weeks, and in which direction they seem to be moving. The newer the patient is to the process, the less they tend to understand the concept of “healing reaction“, and the more likely they are to miss them when they happen.

A typical conversation at this stage will start with the patient reporting that “nothing happened” after they took their remedies. I review with them my notes from the previous session, and ask them how they are doing relative to each of the points I recorded the previous month. More often than not, they’ll slip into the conversation at one point

“…but I did catch this head cold that is going around the office, and was sneezing with a runny nose for 4 days”.

When I inquire further, this will most often turn out to be a healing reaction.

How can I tell? A healing reaction, although it includes any variety of discharge symptoms, whether physical or emotional, will have the peculiar characteristic of the patient feeling rather well at their core despite the apparant head cold they have. It’s kind of like the idea of “the eye of the storm”, where all kinds of content can be swirling around the patient, yet they feel surprisingly well despite all of that. Also, we come to understand what the typical rhythm that each patient has with the remedies, and the time frame that their healing reaction tends to occur within.  On average, most patient’s have their healing reactions within 5 – 12 days after taking their remedy, but there are occurrences at the near and far end of this bell curve.

It usually takes a few repetitions of this pattern with a new patient before they start to understand the difference between a healing reaction, and, say, a “head cold” which they assume is what they have at that time. I especially need to re-train the patients who tend to rush out every time to get a suppressive medication (and therefore necessitate the repetition of their remedy), instead of calling me for a remedy to support them through the healing reaction, instead of suppressing it. I keep my fingers and toes crossed until that moment arrives when the patient starts to get it, and allows themself to go through the process without interrupting every step forward of progress with an equal step back with anti-symptom prescription drugs.

The differences between men and women in treatment

[Author’s Preface : There are always exceptions and individual variations to the following generalizations — however, as generalizations, they prove true over a larger sample as taken from my practice over the years. There are men who I’ve treated who conform much more to the characteristics of women in treatment I outline below, and vice versa. Please take the following article in the spirit it is intended!]

My accumulated experience in the clinic has illustrated for me the differences between men and women, and how they engage in the treatment process. The first and most obvious fact is that my practice has always been populated by a much higher proportion of women than men. This is true not only in my practice, but in fact across virtually all health care modalities. Men, stereotypically, come in for treatment (when they come in for treatment, that is), as the ‘caboose’ dragged in by his spouse, and after the children.

Comparing the general health goals of men versus women also reveals a great difference in how they each think about health — men tend to be much more linear in their thinking, and thus bring to treatment very specific symptoms, desiring simply to eliminate them — the classic “problem / solution” mode of thinking. This is also, by the way, the reason that more men will choose conventional medicine over Heilkunst, which delivers such a quick symptom removal philosophy of healthcare.  Women tend more to appreciate the process of Heilkunst treatment, and are more internally aligned with goals of taking care of their long-term health, as well as being conscious of their personal growth and development. While men appreciate the linear approach of treating the time line, women appreciate the idea of finding relationships between their inner world and what occurs in their outer ambient.

In addition to the symptom (problem/solution) focus of men, they also are more focussed on the external aspects of health, rather than their interior process of thoughts and feelings. Not only is it a realm which men don’t readily discuss, it is often a realm which apparently doesn’t even exist. In obvious contrast, the inner life of women is often spontaneously shared with me in consult, and which naturally becomes a more central focus of their treatment. On this point, when treating couples, this is one of the differences for which a bridge is sought out.

Treating a couple together can often be quite productive in many ways. The positive learnings that they gain from each other in their relationship generally are accelerated and enhanced within the treatment context. While one of the goals of health within Heilkunst is to find a balance between a capacity for healthy thinking, and for healthy feeling, a couple working on their health together will often help the other where natural strengths are overlaid onto the other’s natural weakness.

To conclude with this point, I’ll say that one of the general goals of health for either sex is to bring out and fully develop our polar nature. Every man has a feminine side, and every woman a masculine side. The abstract goal of “balance” becomes more concrete when it is framed in such qualitative terms.