For those on a quest for wellness, there are definite phases of expansiveness. We can equate our personal wellbeing with the feeling of being open, of growing in mind and soul awareness. Yet we are influenced by many areas of our lives and there are times when the universal perspective may be hard to grasp. When we find ourselves in phases of contraction, when a sense of shutting down or closing in engulfs our being, then we feel separated from the universe. The feeling of being separate and closed is often the precursor to illness in mind or body.
Wellness or holistic health is often seen as a continuum, a process rather than an end point. So as an individual moves towards their own ideals there may be obstacles, challenges along the way. In our relationship with self, and with others, it can sometimes be difficult to see the universe at work or play. People can be crude, expressing the most mundane perspectives, and yet it seems that somehow healing happens. Life offers up opportunities for growth, for expansions of consciousness that allow us to lighten up and become more awake to the universe.
Ilya Prigogene, a Nobel laureate who developed a theory of how dissipative structures change, presents a way to understand the science behind our human potential for growth. A dissipative structure is an open system that draws energy in, transforms it and then dissipates it out into the external environment. Such structures are able to handle small fluctuations in the energy field around them, but when the stressors reach a critical intensity, the structure will transform into something more complex in order to adapt.
Like an open system, a human being is constantly channelling energy, we are always in flux. While we can handle minor stressors in the form of changes in diet, exercise, work or relationships, when we find ourselves pushed to a critical limit, we are forced to adapt. In times of crisis, there is often a sense that things are collapsing, that we may fall apart. And yet, in most situations, we manage to rebuild ourselves. In that transformation there is a new sense of opening to life and our fresh selves forge ahead with a stronger mind or body. Even the stress of exercise has the same system at play - from pushing to a physical limit, the body adapts and we are then able to cope better with future exercise demands.
Our capacity for expanding the perceived limits of our bodies and minds is significant when it comes to healing ourselves and others. Larry Dossey MD has written extensively about the new era of medicine, a truly universal healthcare system that expands beyond the confines of space and time. Dossey describes three eras in medicine. Era One refers to the beginning of scientific, rational medicine in the US in the 1860s. This was a time of mechanical medicine, where the human body was considered a complex machine and there were great advances in surgery and pharmaceutical treatments.
Post World War Two, the next era of medicine evolved. Dossey believes Mind Body Medicine to be Era Two healing, when medicine became aware of the impact of the mind on the body and techniques involving relaxation, meditation, guided imagery and hypnosis advanced.
In the last two decades of the 20th century and into the 21st century, medicine is evolving again. This is Era Three, what Dossey has called "non local medicine". There is a growing body of research to support his assertions that non local healing is a very real modality. The key concept is that one person's intentions are able to affect another person who may be at a great distance. Not only does this idea encompass healing with consciousness around the planet, but also through time, including the past and future.
Material scientists might expect that even if some form of energy could be projected towards another person, that distance and time would make it weaker. It's a big stretch for science, even quantum physics, to explain how distant healing can be so effective. Yet well designed studies consistently support what many people know intuitively, that time and space do not dampen our capacity to send and receive healing intentions. The scientific problem has no bearing on actual experiences.
Non locality is an accepted scientific concept, but humans tend not to behave in the predictable way particles do; our consciousness changes and influences any experiments. We are deeply, powerfully connected to each other and the universe. Like many advances in consciousness, the explanation lags behind the experience, but that doesn't seem to stop people from feeling and utilising the growing awareness of healing capacity within.
If we accept that human consciousness is always changing and that rather than degenerating or suffering from entropy, we are, in fact, able to evolve into greater complexity and subtlety, then our understanding of health must move into Era Three thinking. Rather than considering just the individual and their body-mind complex, we must also understand the wholeness of the universe and the interconnectedness of all beings within it.
The process of healing ourselves is part of the human search for meaning. When things go wrong, when we feel unhappy, dissatisfied, frustrated, stagnant, generally unwell or our bodies break down and become obstacles to our happiness, we seek not only a remedy for the dis-ease, but also a context in which to draw meaning from our experiences. It is easier to accept the changes and transformations a lifetime brings with it if we have some bigger picture to encompass it all. The search for meaning may drive us to evolve our thinking, to get in touch with the non physical and the non local reality. It is sometimes challenging to contemplate our own internal states. Personal growth is not necessarily linear; in fact it may require very lateral thinking and some crumbling of old ways before any insights arise.
So this is the challenge for modern medicine: to maintain and further the sophisticated techniques of mechanistic and mind body medicine, while embracing the expanded perspective of non local healing. To press on with expanding our individual minds, breaking through old patterns that keep us feeling separate from each other and the universe. Then, in our own expansive healing experiences we can feel linked in with other beings throughout the universe who also seek to find meaning and transcend limitations. When hard times come, we must be so familiar with this feeling of connection that we don't retreat back to looking after only our own interests, but continue to heal and be healed by the universe.
In every phase of human development there have been front runners. Often artists, musicians, scientists and philosophers have sought to commune with something greater than themselves and, in doing so, have been able to create art or ideas that allow others to open to new paradigms, too. Mystics throughout the ages have described the vastness of the universe, the beauty and mystery of this living, breathing, pulsating whole.
In sharing their ideas and creations, a collective shift in consciousness has happened, not just among those in direct contact with seers, but even in far distant lands. The human urge to expand our horizons is as limitless as the infinite universe suggests.
Collectively and individually, seekers of health continue to dive beneath the obvious and explore the frontiers of consciousness. In healing ourselves and seeking to support the wellbeing of others, we remain open systems, channels for energy, transforming what is no longer necessary and sharing vitality throughout the universe. The borders of our bodies become simply containers; the boundaries of our minds expand as far as we can imagine and the rhythms of our lives fall into the wondrous music of the whole.
Chandrika Gibson ND is a holistic yoga teacher and naturopath