The Source of the Power to Heal Ourselves and Others

Dr. Connie Hernandez, ND
Dr. Connie Hernandez, ND

Ever hear of “body, mind, spirit healing”?

Of course you have!

You’ve heard it ad nauseam, to a point where you want to go sit in a corner with your hands over your ears and scream, “Oh, barf!”

It’s a thoroughly shopworn cliché – as used-up as the carpet in a ten-dollar motel, and overworked to the point of meaningless.

I think it’s time we stood this threadbare formula on its head.

Literally. Because I think a major problem all along is that we’ve gotten it backwards.

Two Kinds of Scientist

My life has put me in a unique position to talk about healing that includes those three words – however we scramble them.

For over twenty-five years, I’ve been a dedicated disciple of a great master of yoga, Paramhansa Yogananda (author of Autobiography of a Yogi).

And for quite a bit longer, I’ve been involved with the healing arts, as a naturopathic physician.

So you could say that I’m two kinds of scientist.

I study nature’s remedies for healing the body. And I also study the timeless prescriptions of a great spiritual master for healing human lives.

And what I’ve come to understand is that there’s a fantastic overlap between the two.

I’ve realized that the spiritual science of yoga offers wonderful guidance for my scientific work as a healer.

That’s because yoga suggests a simple process by which we can heal ourselves of all our aches and pains forever.

The Yoga Happiness Formula

The sages of ancient India set themselves an interesting task. They set out to answer an irreducibly simple question: “What do people want?”

indexAnd, by observing human life with scientific objectivity, they arrived at an equally simple answer:

“All people want happiness and freedom from suffering.”

As a next logical step, they set out to investigate all of the ways people can increase their happiness and remove suffering from their lives.

And, once again, the “method” turned out to be surprisingly simple.

They realized that we human beings have been given five tools by which we can achieve greater happiness: body, feelings, will, mind, and soul.

And they realized that when we use those instruments “expansively,” our happiness always increases, and our suffering wanes.

In plain English, when we use these standard, off-the-shelf “life tools” in ways that give us greater health, love, strength, wisdom, and joy, we begin to glow and purr with happiness.

All the rest is details. In fact, the yogis gave us a wonderful treasury of guidelines for using each of the tools to raise our lives to ever higher octaves of happiness.

Specifically, they gave us the five branches of yoga, which amount to a spiritual apothecary of prescriptions for healing our lives.

In a nutshell, the yoga branches include methods for expanding happiness at the level of the body (Hatha Yoga), heart (Bhakti Yoga), will (Karma Yoga), mind (Gyana Yoga), and soul (Raja Yoga).

The Spiritual Side of Natural Healing

In fact, this is what first drew me to the practice of naturopathic medicine – that it seeks to expand human happiness by working with all of our human tools, and not just the body.

The constant goal of the naturopathic physician is to acknowledge, respect, and address the many aspects of our lives that contribute to our health, well-being, and happiness.

In naturopathy, unlike traditional medicine, we don’t shy away from embracing a holistic vision of health – a vision that honors each patient’s individual physical, mental, emotional, social, economic, cultural, environmental, and spiritual realities.

Stuck in the Body – the Healer’s Dilemma

Yet I find it curious how often naturopathic doctors can get a little bit stuck in focusing on the body – how they continue to place the body first, implicitly endorsing the old formula of “healing body, mind, and spirit.” As if mind and spirit were secondary.

My guru Paramhansa Yogananda explained that all disease has its ultimate source in spiritual ignorance – that is, in behaviors that display a dangerous unawareness of the spiritual laws of happiness as they relate to the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of our being.

Naturopathic doctors have always looked for the ultimate source of any given illness, instead of simply treating its symptoms.

Yet the physical body is such a blatantly obvious and obtrusive aspect of our being that even the most savvy naturopathic physician may be tempted to look for physical sources of disease first and foremost, to the exclusion of factors of mind, spirit, and emotions.

Perhaps if we did an about-face and began to speak of “spirit, mind, and body,” we might discover ways to chop the roots of illness before they could sprout and grow.

After all, the Spirit that resides in us is a never-changing fountain of perfect divine happiness and health.

True Spiritual Healing

Paramhansa Yogananda characterized the qualities of Spirit as love, joy, peace, calmness, wisdom, power, sound, and light.

The Spirit is always and forever perfectly whole. In deep meditation, we learn to commune with the bliss and well-being that is the God-nature at the heart of our own being.

People use the phrase “healing the spirit” to refer to problems of the emotions and mind, such as depression, or failing enthusiasm. But, come to think of it: isn’t it absurd to speak of healing the perfect spirit?

I believe it’s more appropriate to approach healing as a process of removing the physical, mental, and emotional barriers that are preventing Spirit from flooding our being with its exhaustless healing bliss.

And I think this should be the highest aspiration of the naturopathic physician.

When naturopaths talk of spiritual healing, they use the term Vix Medicatrix Naturae, an ancient appellation for the healing power of nature that is a built-in part of our being.

Healing in the Age of Energy

Since roughly the year 1900, people on this planet have become increasingly aware that energy, not matter, is the ultimate reality of all creation. In the last century, a stream of energy-related scientific discoveries have enriched our lives with an amazing proliferation of useful devices.

The yogis tell us that in future centuries mankind will discover that, just beneath the level of energy, consciousness is the deeper reality of cosmic creation. And in the highest age of the great cycle of human history, we will realize that Spirit is the ultimate reality.

The thought that comes to my mind is, “Why wait?”

Whether we think of healing ourselves by the power of Vix Medicatrix Naturae, or by conscious cosmic energy, or by the power of the Heavenly Father or Divine Mother, the source of the healing energy that animates everything, including our own being, is Spirit. When we meditate deeply and still the wild oscillations of the heart and mind, the Spirit reveals itself to us as the blissful Source of all.

Yogic Spiritual Healing Exercises

Yogananda devised a series of thirty-nine Energization Exercises by which we can work with our breathing, concentration, and will power to draw cosmic energy consciously into the body and direct it to the various body parts.

Yogananda promised that gaining control over the energy in our bodies, and developing the ability to draw energy into the body at will, is a wonderful first step toward being able to heal all of the ailments that beset us.

Four-Part-compositeI can attest to the power of these exercises. I find that with just eight to twelve minutes of practice they align my spine, opening channels for a fresh flow of energy. They relieve me of various physical discomforts, calm my mind, and put me in touch with the spiritual reality of my being. They’ve become a profoundly effective source of healing in my life.

Other energetic disciplines may offer similar benefits –meditative yoga, tai chi, chi kung, and the like.

I think we should start seeking ways to add spiritual methods to our healing formulary. A too-exclusive focus on the physical body alone can never bring us permanent healing and happiness.

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