Accepting vs. Resisting
The article I'm sharing below is titled, 'When You Pull Back, It Hurts More' and is written by Dr. Habib Sadeghi. Dr. Sadeghi is a world renowned Integrative medical doctor. His Wellness Clinic in Los Angeles is called the Be Hive of Healing. This article that he wrote was an early introduction for me on the concept of surrendering and as well to the concept of what you resist will persist. I first learned about Dr. Sadeghi from my coach Steve Hardison.
Steve was also introducing me to many of these same concepts. At the time I was also soaking up the concepts in Marianne Williamson's book 'A Return to Love' which beautifully teaches all about surrendering, resisting and the living a life based in love instead of fear. I didn't know it at the time, but I was about to get a real life crash course in putting all these principles into practice. Coincidence? I think not.
Because of some minor health issues I wanted to get straightened out, I flew over to Los Angeles in the summer of 2013 to have a comprehensive physical evaluation by Dr. Sadeghi, which was about fives months prior to my health crash. This was really my first introduction to Integrative Medicine and the mind, body, spirit connection.
After meeting with Dr. Sadeghi, I read this article that he wrote about leaning into your issues vs. pulling away. I learned that by pulling away from many issues, it actually hurts more and delays our overall healing responses. It was the a-ha moment for me. The lightbulb really went off. It made so much sense to me and it seemed it was an answer that my spirit had been waiting and needing to hear. I had been learning about this concept of surrendering and yielding to what is, and by doing this I was learning to create space to make choices. Releasing the 'fight' was actually a powerful thing to do. Surrendering is a powerful step to creating space to thrive and to fully heal physically, emotionally and spiritually.
WHEN YOU PULL BACK IT HURTS MORE
by Dr. Habib Sadeghi
Healing is an experiential process it does not happen because someone gives you a pill, it happens when you create space and connect with your inner self, your inner knowing. When you choose to take time and breath Self Love, Self Acceptance and Self Forgiveness its the perfect place to start the healing process.
At this starting point you can connect with your potential to go through this. Knowing you have what it takes has greater therapeutic effect then any Vitamin C, chemo or any treatment someone else can give.
Listen to Dr Sadeghi as he shares one of his greatest insights into Holistic Cancer Healing with maxAwareness from treating hundreds of mail carriers with dog bites.
In my early, green doctor days, I ran an integrative medical practice in a downtown Los Angeles clinic that catered primarily to occupation-related injuries and illnesses. I treated an astounding number of Metropolitan mail carriers, most of whom arrived with red-speckled, cloth-wrapped hands, chewed into various states of distress by Neighborhood Dog X. Over the course of a single year, I treated hundreds of dog bite wounds, from which I gleaned invaluable lessons on myriad levels – from both the bites themselves, and the patients who suffered them. Treating dog bite injuries is a complicated endeavor. As the flesh tears are invariably uneven, we typically don’t suture them – opting, instead, to let the wound granulate from the inside out, to minimize the chance of infection; which is all to say – the wounds are intentionally left open. Despite the precariousness of both the laceration, as well as the course of treatment, many patients defy the odds, and heal effortlessly. It didn’t take long to notice a simple pattern emerging among my dog bite patients, of which there were two distinctly different types – those who healed quickly and gracefully, and those who didn’t.
I immersed myself in the study of canine dental anatomy, searching for clues as to why some people healed so much more easily than others. Carnivores by nature, dogs’ teeth are perfectly crafted for clenching and shredding flesh; they’re sharp along the edges, and angled back towards the rear of the mouth. Plus, the jaw itself is positioned in such a way as to easily exert a tremendous amount of force. The dog’s mouth is a perfect meat-ripping mechanism. Given the physicality of this meat-ripping mechanism, I discovered that when a person’s hand is wrenched between the rear-angled teeth of a dog’s jaw, pulling away is just about the worst move to make. Granted, this is a natural reaction, however, it is a reaction that will exponentially exacerbate the injury. The wisest way to handle the situation, counter-intuitive though it may be, is to actually shove the hand further into the dog’s mouth, thus activating the dog’s gag reflex, and forcing it to open its mouth, and release the hand. There is a martial arts adage that says: “Push when pulled, and pull when pushed.” Clearly, the practical application of this wisdom extends well beyond the confines of a Kung Fu match. Instead of confronting force with force, a more efficient strategy is to use the challenger’s own energy against himself. Traditionally, when an opponent approaches with a pushing motion, the rival will grab the forward moving hand (or foot, as the case may be), pull it, and throw the opponent to the ground, helped along by the opponent’s own force, will and intention.
I quickly saw my cursory foray into canine dental anatomy as a beautiful metaphor for engaging life’s challenges, such that we would be wise to embrace the struggles, rather than to resist them. Unlike the boxer, whose stance is closed and protected, the martial artist takes an open-armed stance, a postural invitation to his challenger. The attitude is clearly delineated in the pose: Bring it on. Trials, tribulation and tragedy are golden opportunities for growth. To embrace the challenge that life’s hiccups bring is to utilize the “rival’s” energy for an infinitely higher purpose – to transcend. Now, I’m not suggesting that one choose to kick back and relax into the experience of having a carnivorous mammal gnawing on her hand. The body will react according to its natural design, which hardly supports relaxation or nonchalance. The idea is to empower our consciousness at the moment of attack, and instead of panicking, and reacting mindlessly in a blind, fear-induced fury, to step into a place of choice, and to then engage the situation guided by wisdom and that innate knowingness that resides in each and every one of us. It is from that position of conscious choice that the healing process begins, and by choosing not to empower unconscious reactive tendencies such as worry and fear, which send the production of stress hormones into overdrive, the body, mind and spirit are empowered to heal gracefully and effortlessly. The Body At the moment of attack, the sympathetic nervous system kicks into the proverbial “fight or flight” response, and releases stress hormones, which serve to protect the body from harm. All systems are functioning as they are designed. However, when the fight or flight response is activated repeatedly and/or unnecessarily, by way of re-telling or re-enacting the trauma, these same life-saving hormones start to have an adverse effect in the body.
We cannot underestimate the sensitivity of the system; the perception of the threat of pain – sensed physically, emotionally or mentally – absolutely creates a physical stress response. When we repeatedly induce this response by way of our thoughts and our stories, we create an overproduction of stress hormones, which weaken the immune system and impair the healing process. The patients who healed the most gracefully were, consistently, those who understood that dogs attack instinctually. Instead of framing the incident as a tragedy in which they starred as the victim, they took personal responsibility for their well-being, and proceeded to focus on healing, rather than identifying with an epic tale of trauma. To replay the scene, to retell the story, to soak inside the anguish of the attack, is to slow the healing process. To heal optimally, we must veer the focus to the healing, not the trauma. If we think of the sympathetic nervous system as the accelerator, we can consider the parasympathetic nervous system as the brake.
The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for the rest and repair hormones. During times of healing and recovery, it is imperative that we apply the brakes. When my dog bite patients allowed themselves the time and the space for their bodies to recover, they were encouraging their rest and repair hormones to do their job unimpeded by extraneous distractions and energy leaks. While resting and relaxing are behaviors that come naturally for some, for others, they prove challenging. This is another instance wherein moving deeper into the injury accelerates the healing. To create the space to relax requires the patient to surrender to the challenge, and to allow himself to sink deeper into the state of disrepair so that the body can do what it needs to do to heal.
The Mind To approach our challenges with curiosity and openness not only liberates us from victim-hood, but enables us to heal. Instead of asking: “Why me?”, the more empowering, and ultimately, healing, question is: “What has this challenge come to teach me?” This is not to purport that every infirmity arises to teach us a lesson – sometimes a cold is just a cold, and a paper-cut is just a paper-cut. Still, the practice of actively questioning and the cultivation of authentic curiosity about our well-being and our experiences prove infinitely more productive toward the ultimate goal of wellness and health than reacting out of fear. While that paper-cut may just be a paper-cut, it may also be a signal to slow down, and to approach our tasks more carefully. Unless we ask the questions, we won’t be able to glean the lessons that may well be embedded in the experience. And, when we ask the question, and we mine the treasures hidden therein, we become more accepting and more loving of ourselves, as we come to understand, experientially, that these challenges allow us to grow. Suddenly, life becomes less scary, reality less tenuous, and we come to know that the Universe is on our side. The alternative only works against us.
The energy required to resist, to fight what is, is energy that could otherwise be directed toward the healing process. Every ounce of energy holds weight and merit. When healing, the quality and direction of our energy, as well as our thoughts, which are also energy, must be honed and directed toward this purpose, if we are to manifest an easy, graceful process. Many of my patients who incurred difficult healing experiences were those who refused to acknowledge their injury, and who thus, deprived their bodies of the rest they needed, while expending their daily energy allotments on anything but their recovery process. The Spirit On a spiritual level, the fight or flight response triggers the soul to fragment and to flee. Abstruse as this idea may be, there is significant support in the field of Shamanism that attests to this very real phenomenon. Dr. Michael Harner, Professor of Anthropology and President of the Foundation of Shamanic Studies, purports that a person’s mental and/or emotional response to upset is the mitigating factor as to whether the soul will stick around while undergoing trauma. When fear-based emotions are leading the way, some degree of soul loss is probable. When fear is grounded in an inherent knowingness that consciousness is infinite, and that all life is safe regardless of circumstance or perceived threat, the soul stays firmly connected to the person. Shamanism is an ancient healing practice underlying most every spiritual tradition on the planet. Historically, shamans used plants, herbs, elements and energies to heal the members of their tribe, or community.
“Shamanism,” explains Dr. Harner, “was developed thousands of years ago worldwide as a means to maximize physical, mental and spiritual healing and problem-solving abilities.” [i] Soul fragmentation is a survival mechanism, and a natural part of the human evolutionary experience. During distress, the soul disconnects from the body as a way to soften the traumatic blow. Oftentimes our approach to stress is such that the soul finds it too painful to process, and takes temporary leave of the body. Sandra Ingerman, Professional Mental Health Counselor, board certified expert on traumatic stress and author of Soul Retrieval: Mending the Fragmented Self, asserts that accidents, illness, abuse, addiction, divorce, loss, war, natural disasters, even acting against the values we hold to be true, are all types of modern-day trauma that can inspire soul loss. While quite common, soul loss is a highly individualized matter, and what may trigger soul loss in one, may not provoke the same reaction in another. The topic begs the obvious question: What is the soul? According to Ingerman, the soul is “our essence, life force, the part of our vitality that keeps us alive and thriving.” As such, the obvious danger in the soul’s swift flight elsewhere is that, without it, we have an infinitely harder time loving, trusting, sharing, creating and experiencing joy – all experiences crucial to the healing process, as well as to enjoying a balanced, happy life. The good news, according to Shamanism, as well as to countless other holistic healing modalities, is that the missing pieces of soul can absolutely be retrieved, thus restoring a person’s sense of wholeness and vitality in the process.
To Survive or to Thrive? My research into the healing processes of dog bite patients has gifted me innumerable, invaluable lessons. To resist the experience, at any step along the way, is to relinquish personal power and to disconnect from a higher life force. When we identify with our personal tragedies, we create an isolating sense of victim-hood. From this stance, we give up our freedom to choose, which compromises our health on every level. In this state, life is reduced to basic survival. What differentiates humans from every other living species on the planet is our consciousness, which means we are meant to do far more than survive. We are not a surviving species, rather a thriving species. To thrive is our birthright as humans. Living as we do, with these seemingly fragile human faculties, in this wonky, wobbly world allegedly filled with danger, danger, everywhere danger, how then can we, as a human race, shift to become like those quick-healing mail carriers, of the smooth-sailing reparative paths?
My research has shown that my quick-healing dog bite patients shared an innate knowledge of these principles. True, those with mellower dispositions may have been helped along by a natural inclination to rest and to nurture themselves. Still, the key is in the surrender. Just as to pull away from the pit bull who’s chewing your hand is only to exponentially exacerbate the injury, to recoil from any of life’s perceived assailants is to guarantee a deeper wound, a slower healing process, and a messier scar. My slow healers demonstrated this lesson time and time again. Conversely, to push into the dog’s mouth when being pulled by the seemingly infinite force of his unyielding jaws is to set oneself free. Both literally and metaphorically, to push when pulled is to mitigate damage. And, in that split second of yielding to what is, we instantly create space for choice – and it is there, embedded in that choice, in those many choices that, strung together, constitute a lifetime, that we can unearth the treasures that allow us not just to survive, but to thrive, as conscious and ever-awakening humans on this fast-flying, quickly-spinning, beautiful, blue ball that we call Earth – that we call home.