HEALING THROUGH UNITY
A monthly newsletter dedicated to serving the principles of
physical and spiritual health envisioned in the Baha'i Teachings.
Volume 7, Issue #3
- Editor's Message
- Steps For Healing
- Dynamics of Prayer for Solving Problems
- More responses to Arthritis
- Purpose of the Newsletter
The November issue will be my last issue. Lynn Ascrizzi, the new editor of the "Healing Through Unity" newsletter, will send out her first issue in January, 2004. There will be no December issue to allow for the transition of the newsletter. I am delighted that the newsletter will continue to grow consistently and strongly into the future. Lynn is eager and enthusiastic about her new role and is looking forward to hearing from you.
Please send all your articles, responses, letters and stories to Lynn Ascrizzi
The newsletter needs one person to be the 'Production and Circulation Assistant' to help with the mailouts and updating of the mailing list. This person would be responsible to send the newsletter to the readers each month (10 issues per year; it is not published during July or August), updating email addresses and adding/deleting subscribers. I use Microsoft Outlook 2000 which works well for this purpose. It would be helpful if this person has good computer skills and is well-organized, orderly, and efficient. It will be important that the program used will receive continual antivirus updating to keep it secure against virus/worm/trojan vulnerabilities. If you are interested to serve in this voluntary position for the newsletter, please contact me at -- . Thank you!
Many thanks for all your articles, letters, and stories which were a balm to so many people.
STEPS FOR HEALING
This is being reprinted from the May, 1999 issue of the Healing Through Unity newsletter.
The following excerpts from "Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom" written by Dr. Christiane Northup (obstetrician and gynecologist) outlines 12 practical steps for healing. They are taken from chapter 15, pages 579 - 641. Although it's written for women, men could benefit just as well from it. "These steps have proved helpful to women who want to become more deeply in tune with the inner guidance of their bodies, minds and spirits. By going through the steps mindfully, you will be practicing preventive medicine at its best, whether or not you are currently being treated for anything. I'd recommend that you use a journal to write down your responses to these steps and record whatever material comes up for you." (ibid, 579)
Imagine Your Future: Change Your Consciousness, Change Your Cells
"For years, I had my patients begin their health journeys by exploring their pasts to find clues to how they were creating their present conditions...It is really our vision and hope for the future that heals us and draws us forward. Our cells keep replacing themselves daily, and we create a whole new body every seven years. So it is not really accurate to say that our pasts are locked in our bodies. What is really going on is that the consciousness that is creating our cells is often locked in the past - and that consciousness keeps re-creating the same old patterns. If, however, we can change the consciousness that creates our cells, then our cells and lives improve automatically. The easiest and fastest way to do this is to imagine your future self in as much detail as you possibly can. You can ask yourself this question: 'If you were in optimal health, what would your life look like?'" (ibid, pp. 579-80)
Step One: Get Your History Straight
"It is helpful for each woman to get her medical, social, and family history straight.." Dr. Northrup has "each patient fill out an extensive questionnaire that covers not only their medical history but their family history and a "daily living profile' in which they check off the effects of their living situation, job, relationships, and other factors on their health. Many of our patients find that taking the time to pull all this information together enables them to see patterns that they had not seen before." (ibid, p. 582)
Step Two: Sort Through Your Beliefs
Dr. Northrup asks us these questions suggesting that we consult them with a friend, and then write down the responses.
"Do you understand how inherited cultural attitudes toward our female physiological processes such as menstruation and menopause have contributed to the illnesses suffered by our female bodies?"
"Do you believe you can be healthy?"
"What challenges were part of your childhood?"
"What purpose does your illness serve? What does it mean to you?"
"Are you willing to be open to any messages that your symptoms or illness may have for you?"
"When faced with an illness, what is your usual reaction?"
"What is preventing you from healing yourself?"
"Do you still take on everyone else's problems and put yourself last? This is the classic dilemma for women. Feeling the need to be the healer and peacemaker for our entire family or place of work is a pattern that many of us learn in childhood. To create health, a woman must face this tendency squarely and commit to changing it."
"Do you fully understand the workings of your female body and how intimately your thoughts and feelings are connected to your physical health?"
"Are you following your life's purpose?
Our bodies are designed to function best when we're involved in activities and work that feel exactly right to us." (ibid, pp. 590-601)
Step Three: Respect and Release Your Emotions
"Emotions are a vital part of our inner guidance. Like our illnesses, our dreams, and our lives, our emotions are ours, and we must own them and pay attention to them. We must learn to feel our emotions, release our judgements about them, and be grateful for their guidance. They let us know how we are directing our life-energy. Chronic anger or sadness, by the law of attraction, tends to attract situations to us that are filled with anger or sadness. Daily doses of joy and appreciation of ourselves and others tend to attract joy and appreciation into our lives.
Children automatically know how to feel their emotions and then let go. When they're hurt, they stop and cry. After just a short time, they're back out playing again. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross points out that a child's natural anger and emotional outburst around it lasts about fifteen seconds. Shaming or blaming the child for that anger, however, blocks its natural release. The child's natural emotion may get stuck and become a form of self-pity that remains with the person for years! Kubler-Ross points out that people who weren't allowed a natural expression of anger are often 'marinated in self-pity' as adults and are difficult to be around...It takes a great deal of energy to hold in our natural emotions. In fact, it's exhausting. If we haven't felt our feelings regularly during a period of personal crisis or change, we often have a backlog of sealed-off emotion stored up in our bodies.
Emotional suppression is a pattern that gets passed down from generation to generation. Many women have a natural rage that's been held in check for decades. They hold in oceans of tears that are yet to be shed." (ibid, pp.
Step Four: Learn to Listen to Your Body
"Learning to listen to and respect your body is a process that requires patience and compassion.
* Make a note of those things in your life that are difficult, painful, joyful, etc. As these things come up, notice your breathing, your heart rate, and your bodily sensation.
* Pay attention to what your body feels like. Do you feel like crying?
* What is your image of yourself?
* Notice how you routinely talk to your body. What happens when you look in the mirror each morning? Do you criticize your face, your legs, your hair?
* Pay attention to your thoughts and observe how they affect your body.
* Notice what your body needs on a daily basis.
* Notice whether there are parts of your body that you have disowned.
* When you experience a bodily sensation such as back pain, "a gut reaction", a headache, or abdominal pain, pay attention to it and see if you can pinpoint the emotional situation that may have triggered it.
* Stand in front of a mirror regularly, and thank your body for all it has done for you. (ibid, pp. 604-606)
Step Five: Learn to Respect Your Body
"Almost all women in the United States have a body image distortion because of the millions of images of 'perfect' airbrushed women that the media flash at us continually. We begin comparing ourselves with these icons of perfection even before puberty. Thus, we often relate to our bodies via negative comparisons: "My hips are too fat, my knees are ugly, my hair is too thin." (ibid, p. 607)
"Our approach to dressing, makeup, hair, and personal care can be well served by the wisdom of Dolly Parton, who said, 'Find out who you are, then do it on purpose.' If we can find out who we are on the inside, we can then express it on the outside." (ibid, p. 609)
Step Six: Acknowledge a Higher Power or Inner Wisdom
"Our bodies are permeated and nourished by spiritual energy and guidance. Having faith and trust in this reality is an important part of creating health. When a woman has faith in something greater than her intellect or her present circumstances, she is in touch with her inner source of power." (ibid, p. 610)
"When we invite the sacred into our lives by sincerely asking our inner wisdom, or higher power, or God for guidance in our lives, we're invoking great power. This can't be taken lightly. The reason people are cynical about this and make fun of it is that they are afraid. When you sincerely invite in the sacred to assist you with your life, you are granting permission for your life to change." (ibid, p. 611-612)
Editor's comment: Here are quotes from the Baha'i Writings that states, "All true healing comes from God" (Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, p.19) and "Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting." (Baha'u'llah, Hidden Words, Arabic #13)
Step Seven: Reclaim the Fullness of Your Mind
"If we are to reclaim the wisdom of our bodies, we must also reclaim our intellects, our minds, and our ability to think. Once we have experienced how intimately our thoughts and bodily symptoms are related and how intelligent we are, our thinking is less distracted by cultural hypnosis and we trust our inner voice.
Journal writing, writing practice, and meditation are methods that many have used to successfully get in touch with their inner voices and get to know their minds...I learned through my writing that my thoughts have order, direction, and intelligence, and that these are all related to my well being.
To become free of thoughts and beliefs that don't serve you, you must be able to hear them as they arise. Writing practice is a profound tool for learning how to hear ourselves and to appreciate the multi model nature of our thoughts. Everyone has this ability, but it is devalued and therefore underdeveloped in our culture....For years, the word 'worthy' came up in my writing because on some deep level I didn't feel 'worthy'. I spent hours asking myself what I meant by this word. Images of school, authorities, and tests always arose around this word. Eventually, my meditation on the word 'worthy' led me to a breakthrough understanding of the original sin of being female. How could I have felt worthy, given my cultural programming?
If a word or phrase continually comes into your mind, it is important - it has meaning for you. Explore it. Write about it. Meditate on it. It will have meaning for you, no matter what it is.
I often ask patients to carry out a dialogue with their bodily symptoms or with the organ that is giving them problems, through writing, meditation, or drawing. Sitting with your journal open while being receptive to your thoughts, ask your body what it needs or what it is trying to tell you." (ibid, p. 615-618)
Editor's note: Abdu'l-Baha explains the effects of emptying our minds: "I now assure thee...that if thy mind become empty and pure from every mention and thought and thy heart attracted wholly to the Kingdom of God, forget all else besides God and come in communion with the Spirit of God, then the Holy Spirit will assist thee with a power which will enable thee to penetrate all things, and a Dazzling Spark which enlightens all sides, a Brilliant Flame in the zenith of the heaven, will teach thee that which thou dost not know of the facts of the universe and of the divine doctrine." (Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith, p. 369)
Step Eight: Get Help
"Asking for help does not mean that we are weak or incompetent. It usually indicates an advanced level of honesty and intelligence." -Anne Wilson Schaef (ibid, p. 622)
"Setting aside time and money to go and talk with a skilled listener can be invaluable....Many therapists have helped people begin to look at their lives differently and effect change. A good therapist should be like a midwife, standing by while someone gives birth to what's best in themselves." (ibid, p. 622)
"There are many different kinds of therapists. The entire field has been changing in response to evolving knowledge about addiction, recovery and the influence of childhood trauma. Therapy is not something that should go on for years, in my view. When it does, it can become an addictive process in and of itself. All relationships, therapeutic or otherwise, work best when the participants see each other as essentially whole beings with inner resources and strengths, though sometimes in temporary need of assistance.
Though individual therapy is often a first step for many women, group work of some kind can be powerful in that this setting helps us see that our problems are shared by so many others." (ibid, p 624)
"It has been my experience that women with histories of trauma recover most effectively in a type of group therapy known as DBT (Dialective Behavioral Therapy). This form of therapy focuses not exclusively on the past trauma, but on helping people develop the skills necessary to live productive, healthy lives in the present. I have found that it is not generally helpful to these women to spend a great deal of time revisiting the past, where it is too easy to get stuck in pain and immobility. Instead, women with trauma histories need to learn to develop the skills that they never developed in childhood. In DBT training, women learn to answer the following questions and then take effective, balanced action.
* What am I feeling?
* What is the purpose of this feeling?
* What do I need to do for myself to deal effectively with this feeling?
I have seen more improvement in women's lives with this model than with any of the others. These skills are practical and helpful for everyone, not just those with histories of trauma." (ibid, 625)
Step Nine: Work with Your Body
"For some women, talking things out is simply not enough. 'I know all of the things that happened to me as a child and with my husband,' said one woman, 'but talking about it just doesn't change a thing. I seem to be going in circles.' When this happens, we often obsess and seem to spin our wheels. It's easy to get locked into 'thought addiction' - a kind of gerbil wheel in the brain that keeps us going around in circles.
Much of the information we need to heal is locked in our muscles and other body parts. Getting a good massage will often release old energy blockages and help us cry or get rid of chronic pain for 'holding the world on our shoulders'. There are many types of bodywork such as Reiki, acupuncture, therapeutic touch, Rolfing, etc.
Work on and with the body can be an opportunity for understanding and experiencing the unity of our bodymind. These therapies are often deeply relaxing and give our bodies a chance to rest and sleep, a time when much of the body's repair work goes on." (ibid, p. 628)
Step Ten: Gather Information
"Currently, more books of interest to women are available than at any other time in history....I recommend going to your bookstore or library and using your inner guidance to help you make a choice. Acknowledge that you have the wisdom to choose the right book at the right time. Just sit with the books for a while and look over a few titles. See which ones speak to you. Choose the ones that feel right and have appeal. You cannot make a mistake....It is a powerful experience for women to begin to reclaim our forgotten history by reading about our bodies, menstruation and childbirth, all written from a women's point of view." (ibid, p. 629)
Step Eleven: Forgive
"Forgiveness frees us. It heals our bodies and our lives. But it is also the most difficult step we must take in our healing process. It takes a great deal of energy to keep someone out of our hearts...Forgiveness and making amends are completely linked. Holding a grudge and maintaining hatred or resentment hurts us as least as much as the other person.
"To get to forgiveness, we first have to work through the painful experiences that require it. Forgiveness doesn't mean that what happened to us was okay. It simply means that we are no longer willing to allow that experience to adversely affect our lives. Forgiveness is something we do, ultimately, for ourselves." (ibid, p. 631)
Step Twelve: Actively Participate in Your Life
"Watch children for a while and you will begin to see what qualities you need to embody to wake up your soul and your immune system regularly. Most young children know exactly what they want. We are all born with an innate ability to know what we want. We are then socialized to believe that we can't have what we want, and so gradually dismiss our innermost desires, our life's passion, to avoid disappointment.
Get out a piece of paper and write on the top of it, 'I intend to receive...', or 'I choose...' Then write in what you want. For example, "I intend to receive a strong, healthy body'. Notice that the word receive and choose indicates that you don't have to work for this. You just have to allow it to come. Now write down exactly why you want what you want, so that you can literally feel the excitement generated by your enthusiasm. In one example: ' I intend to receive this because I want to feel powerful. I want my body to be an instrument that is highly attuned to my needs. I want a body that is a reflection of the beauty that is inside me. I want a body that is capable of getting me where I want to go.' The positive emotional energy generated by this experience literally begins to draw the experience of health to you." (ibid, p. 638)
"Write down your lifetime goals. Over the past ten years, I've written down my goals for each year. I have written down a five-year plan and a ten-year plan at the same time. When I look back, the amazing thing is that I've accomplished almost every one of my goals - even the ones I later forgot about. The very process of writing them down and thinking about them sets something magical into motion." (ibid, p. 640)
DYNAMICS OF PRAYER FOR SOLVING PROBLEMS
"The five steps were suggested by the beloved Guardian Shoghi Effendi to a believer as a means of finding a solution through the use of prayer. This statement belongs to the category of statements known as "pilgrims notes", and has such as no authority, but since it seems to be particularly helpful and clear it was felt that believers should not be deprived of it.
Pray and meditate about it. Use the prayers of the Manifestations as they have the greatest power. Then remain in the silence of contemplation for a few minutes.
Arrive at a decision and hold this. This decision is usually born during the contemplation. It may seem almost impossible of accomplishment but if it seems to be an answer to a prayer or a way of solving the problem, then immediately take the next step.
Have determination to carry the decision through. Many fail here. The decision, budding into determination, is blighted and instead becomes a wish or a vague longing. When determination is born, immediately take the next step.
Have faith and confidence that the power will flow through you, the right way will appear, the door will open, the right thought, the right message, the right principle, or the right book will be given to you. Have confidence and the right thing will come to your need. Then, as you rise from prayer, take at once the 5th step.
Act as though it had all been answered. Then act with tireless, ceaseless energy. And as you act, you, yourself, will become a magnet, which will attract more power to your being, until you become an unobstructed channel for the Divine power to flow through you.
Many pray but do not remain for the last half of the first step. Some who meditate arrive at a decision, but fail to hold it. Few have the determination to carry the decision through, still fewer have the confidence that the right thing will come to their need. But how many remember to act as though it had all been answered? How true are these words "Greater than the prayer is the spirit in which it is uttered" and greater than the way it is uttered is the spirit in which it is carried out." (Baha'i Prayers, Baha'i Publishing Trust of the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Malaysia, p. 127)
MORE RESPONSES TO ARTHRITIS
I would suggest that any information gathered from personal experiences should carry a disclaimer regarding such a debilitating disease such as arthritis. In reading the article, there is no separation or distinction between two of the most common types of arthritis: osteoarthrhritis and rheumatoid arthritis. There are many more types that occur less frequently.
RA (rheumatoid arthritis) is very serious and is an autoimmune disease. That is the body attacks itself in the joints. Osteoarthritis or OA is found more as people age and what people usually associate with arthritis. There is some evidence that diet does have an effect on RA including adding Omega 3 fatty acids, flax seed oil and vitamin E to the diet but any addition should be done under supervision of a doctor as the medicine's used to treat RA can cause serious side effects.
- Joye Le Beau
I suffer from arthritis in almost every joint. My wonderful medical doctor has arranged free regular massage for me which helps, but I also take glucosomine and MSN ( a natural sulphur product - methlysulfonylmethane) and gain great benefit from these. Diet is important too, having replaced most dairy products with soy (which has other benefits also including the fact I never seem to get a cold these days) A natural and almost vegetarian diet helps, and I am often reminded how Abdu'l-Baha spoke of how in the future the world will exist on mainly vegetarian foods.
- Polly Nash, New Zealand
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PURPOSE OF THE NEWSLETTER
"Healing Through Unity" is published for the purpose of sharing thoughts, comments and experiences on how the teachings of the Baha'i Faith are being applied to physical and spiritual health. Other than the quoted Holy Writings, the material in this newsletter represents the thoughts and opinions of the writers and has no authority. You are free to copy articles, provided you indicate the source of the article. There are 10 issues per year; it is not published during July and August. The newsletter is produced in Ontario, Canada.
Please send your stories, comments, suggestions or "Question for the Month" ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org
Many thanks to all of you who send such wonderful contributions for "Healing Through Unity" Newsletter. The decision to select and edit material submitted for publication is determined by the editor.