How Integral Medicine is put into Practice (Please read the blog post "The Ideal Medicine" first. Thank you.)
As I said, Integral medicine is my attempt to give you this ideal medicine. Many people have similar ideas about the ideal medicine. The problem has been, “How to put these ideals into practice?” The medical community’s best attempt so far is integrative medicine.
Integral medicine is my version of integrative medicine. I needed to develop Integral medicine as a distinct practice because there are some major problems with how integrative medicine is getting practiced most of the time.
True integrative medicine is more than just sticking a few herbs on the side of conventional medicine. For example, it looks at you as a whole functioning system rather than reducing you to 12 or 13 organ systems. This results in different ideas about how your variety of problems are interrelated, and such. Conversely, integrative medicine is not just any kind of alternative medicine: it must include the best parts of conventional medicine. So most of the alternative practitioners who call themselves integrative practitioners are not, really. They can be a member of an integrative treatment team, but they are practicing their own specific alternative therapy. If they are not also trained in conventional medicine, what are they integrating?
The Integral World View
The major hurdle that has made developing a truly integrative medicine so difficult has been the fact that conventional and most forms of alternative medicine are based upon radically different world views. And those world views mix like oil and water. To create Integral medicine, I have utilized a third world view where conventional and alternative medicine can meet as equals and the best of all forms of medicine can be synthesized into one seamless, philosophically consistent system of medicine. This third world view is called the “Integral World View” and was developed by Ken Wilber.
A Scientific Model for a Whole Human Being
The next step to developing your ideal medicine, after integrating all of the valid and effective ideas and treatments about health and disease, was to figure out how to treat you as a whole human being. To do that, I needed a deeper understanding of what that is than is offered by the conventional medical model. I found what I was looking for in the concepts of a human being developed by the ancient Vedic sages thousands of years ago. This view underlies Ayurvedic medicine and yoga. They saw a human as being made up of six aspects that are arranged as sleeves within sleeves, like the Russian nesting dolls. The sixth, or inner-most aspect is pure Consciousness, not consciousness as a neuroscientist uses the word (awake, as opposed to being in a coma) but the Consciousness that underlies all of creation. They also called this aspect of you the “true self”.
A symptom is a clue that something somewhere in your system is out of balance. Understanding how these different aspects, like your body, energy, mind, and beliefs, interrelate helps me understand where the primary imbalance is to be found so that you and I can find the best treatment to get that imbalance balanced.
I like this model because it explains many things that are a mystery in medicine. It explains what your mind is, for one thing, (hint: it is not your brain) and it helps to explain the mind-body connection. It sees your energy as just as real as your body. There are many more advantages to this model of a human being that are too numerous to get into here.
How to get to the Root
The next issue to address in developing your ideal medicine, now that we can use any valid treatment and idea and treat you as a whole human being immersed in a social and environmental milieu, is to get to the real root of your problems.
When you are wanting help for your health challenges, you have two major strategies you could pursue. You could work on changing what has already been created (which is what most conventional and alternative medicines do), or you could find and change the determinants of your creativity so that you stop creating what you don’t want and start creating what you do want. You can also do both strategies at the same time, which is what I generally recommend when you are starting on your Integral treatment plan.
What has already been created is being expressed as your symptoms. So trying to change what has already been created would be to use symptom-oriented treatments. This can be helpful when the symptoms are so loud that they are disruptive to your life. It is okay to treat depression while you are rooting out its cause. It is okay to treat pain while you are rooting out its cause. It is okay to treat your high blood pressure, high blood sugar, asthma, allergies, inflammation, whatever your symptoms, while you are rooting out the cause.
The main problem with effective symptom control is it often removes your motivation to root out the cause once you feel better. But you wouldn’t do that, would you? That is so last century. Besides, if you ever want to get off of your medications, you will have to get to the roots of your problems and treat those. There are reasons you are taking those medications. If you simply stop them, you will be back to where you started. To effectively get off of your medications, you need to put some other supports in place first. If you find and treat the root causes, your problems resolve and you won’t need your medications any more. So, what are the roots?
According to the Vedic model we were just talking about, Consciousness is creative. Every aspect of the physical universe is an expression of some aspect of the infinite Consciousness behind it. This Consciousness is timeless, it is outside the laws of physics. It created those laws. Since every aspect of the physical world is an expression of Consciousness, that means that all of your symptoms and the imbalances behind them are also expressions of Consciousness.
As humans, we have access to this infinite Consciousness, that sixth aspect, our true self. Yet, who do you know is fully expressing infinite Consciousness? I’ve not met anyone like that. So, that implies that something limits our access to this Consciousness and determines what aspects of it get to come into material existence as the experiences and stuff of our life. Whatever that something is, that is the determinants of your creativity. The real roots of your health challenges, whatever they are, are whatever allows those particular aspects of Consciousness to be expressed in your life.
What could do that? The Vedic model gives some ideas that are worth exploring. This is what I experience when I work on someone:
· The inner-most aspect, pure Consciousness, feels like a core of intensely bright white light that runs up and down the middle of the torso.
· Around that core of light is the fifth aspect that is totally transparent, like the glass around the flame of a hurricane lamp. This is your inner wisdom, your inner watcher, the wise, loving observer of you living your life.
· Around that glass sleeve is a sheet of black plastic, totally opaque to the bright white light. This is the fourth aspect in the model, your intellect.
· There are little pin-holes in the black plastic scattered around it that let little rays of light through. These are the contents of your mind, your beliefs and conclusions.
· Your mind, energy, and body are then three more sheaths created by the light of Consciousness that makes it through the little pin-holes.
Each little ray of creative Consciousness that passes through each pin-hole creates experiences in your life that are consistent with the belief that is the pin-hole. Beliefs are, quite literally, self-fulfilling prophesies. When you change your beliefs, those little pin-holes move around, allowing different Consciousness through, creating different things in your life.
So your beliefs are the determinants of your creativity. “Man is as he believes. As he believes, so he is.” –von Goethe. (I think the same holds true for women, as well.) “If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you’re right.” –Henry Ford. Our society has understood the importance and power of beliefs for hundreds of years. And, it turns out, you get to choose what you believe, with the right practice.
Since you get to choose what you believe, you can heal. To really work on the root causes of your health issues, you would need a way to find the belief that is allowing that issue to exist in your life and change it into a belief that allows you to create more of what you want. Many therapists and health practitioners understand this, yet developing effective, reliable, teachable techniques to change beliefs has been surprisingly difficult. Some, like Byron Katie’s work, EMDR, Focusing, and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), are getting pretty good but there is still room for improvement.
When I looked at why finding and changing beliefs was so difficult, I saw that it had to do with two issues: how your mind works and the Laws of Consciousness. Without going into a big, long explanation, basically, you need a way to get to the hidden beliefs in the nonconscious mind and you need a way to get them aligned with higher truth that works within the laws of Consciousness. I have found a way to do both. And I can teach you.
Actually, you already know how to heal, at least your inner wisdom knows. But since it is hiding out behind that sheet of black plastic, your conscious mind cannot readily connect with it. You first need a belief that you can hear and heed your own inner knowing and that opens up a little pin-hole that makes it possible. You can create such a belief in your mind by choosing to have faith that you can do it.
If you do whatever it takes to connect with your own inner knowing earlier rather than later on your healing path, you will save yourself a lot of work, time and money. Imagine, if the pioneers had worked on inventing the helicopter first before heading west, how much easier their travels would have been.
Your inner wisdom is very smart. Not only is it monitoring all of the physiological processes in your body and keeping them in balance as much as it can, it knows when things get out of balance and sends you a message that it needs your help. Learning how to hear and heed your own knowing is the best preventative medicine. It also knows what it needs to correct the imbalance, so it will direct you to treatments that both work and have a low risk of side-effects for you. I’ve seen people’s inner wisdom direct them to try treatments that neither their, nor my, conscious minds would have ever thought to try. And those treatments usually work miraculously.
So, by putting all of this together: an integral world view so that all of your life can be taken into account with respect to your healing, a broad science so that all valid healing concepts and modalities are available if and when you need them, an expanded model of a human being so that you can get treated as a whole person living a full life, and a connection to your own inner wisdom so that you know how to eat, exercise, play and make other important choices in your life to be in your highest interest, we have a pretty good system of medicine to help you with any issues you face. This is Integral medicine as I strive to practice it.
Now we just have to heal health insurance companies…