Healing is a fascinating and often mysterious process. In over six
years of practice as naturopathic and homeopathic doctors and counselors, we
have had many opportunities to observe the healing process from a bird’s eye
view. Since we have a particular interest in the body/mind/spirit integration
and in exploring and understanding the roots of illness, we have paid
particular attention to how and when healing does or does not occur. We began
to notice that there were times when even the simplest and straightforward
symptoms, either our own or those of a patient, would just not respond to
whatever treatment we used. However, there were other patients for whom we
could do no wrong. No matter what their complaint or what we recommended to
treat it, it worked like magic and they felt wonderful. In talking with our
colleagues and in reading about master healers, we found that no one, no matter
how great their therapies, had a 100% success rate. So, we began to ask
ourselves what made the difference in the healing process. Why was it that the
same methods of diagnosis and treatment and interacting with our patients
worked in most cases but not in others. We want to share with you some of our
thoughts on this subject.
Motivation– We have found the sincere desire to heal and to change
to be one of the most, if not the most, essential factors in healing. When we
have genuinely reached a point where we cannot tolerate our suffering another
moment, some type of healing is likely to occur. This holds true regardless of
the specific complaint. It might be smoking or persistent back pain or
depression or poor memory. When we realize that our lives and our health just
aren’t working and feel that we have no choice but to do something about it, we
open ourselves up to healing. One of our hypnosis teachers, a highly
experienced and successful therapist, taught us a good lesson about motivation.
He told us to ask anyone wishing to come to us to get rid of an unwanted habit
how motivated they were, on a 1 to 10 scale. If they didn’t say “9” or “10”,
he told us to tell them to come back when they reached that point.
A 45 year-old man came to see us a couple of months ago because he was
sick and tired of his 33 year history of smoking! He was a very independent
fellow. He was not so worried about his health as about his having to change
his habits to conform to the wishes of non-smokers. He wanted to go where he
pleased when he pleased, and to do that he decided he needed to give up
smoking. We have a terrrific four-session stop smoking program which works for
anyone who’s really motivated to quit. This man was so committed to quitting
that we only needed two sessions. He can’t even imagine himself smoking again.
He was tired of being bound by his smoking habit and his desire for freedom was
greater than his desire to continue smoking. He was highly motivated and the
program worked beautifully for him.
The contrary can also be true. We have had some patients who are only
mildly interested in changing themselves. They have often been to many doctors
and complain that no one can really understand or help them. When we delve
deeply into their lives and their suffering, they usually have considerable
fear and anger and hold others responsible for their difficulties. It is
unlikely that this type of person will be healed until their attitude changes.
It is never too late, though, to allow healing into our lives. Healing can
occur even in our final moments prior to death.
Timing– We have often witnessed some type of synchronicity in the
healing process. Patients may tell us they attended one of our classes or read
an article we wrote two or three years before. Healing is not an urgent issue
for them. They file us and the idea of natural healing somewhere in their
brains. Then a pressing health issue arises for them and they call. This is the
time their motivation level is the highest. Sometimes everything in our lives,
including our health, falls apart simultaneously. Or we think our health is
great and we’re diagnosed with cancer or some other serious illness. We have
found consistently that the timing of these events is no accident. As we do
hypnosis to help our patients explore the underlying reasons for their illness,
time and time again they discover what particular purpose their symptoms or
life circumstances are serving and what lessons they can learn from their
Illness often occurs at just the right moment to force a dramatic change
in one’s life. One of our patients is an internationally renowned sculptor.
Though his motives were originally pure, he found that the more his fame
increased, the more materialistic he became. He pushed himself to work as
quickly as he could to create marketable pieces and travelled frequently to
show his work. He spent more time with superficial acquaintances rather the
close friends he had before. He became quite wealthy. A mutual friend confided
in me that the last time she saw him, she was shocked. The old Peter she knew
was gone. She found him to be arrogant and egotistical and, literally, never
cared if she saw him again. His life was moving faster and faster. Than a
tragic accident occurred, or so it seemed. He was riding his motorcycle on the
freeway and a car hit him. He was in a coma for weeks. His doctors weren’t sure
if he would live or die. With time, he came out of the coma, but as a
different person. It took him over a year to recover and in the process he
found a joy and simplicity in life that he had lost. He went back to his
sculpting, but at a slower pace. He found a deeply meaningful relationship and
reconnected with his old, dear friends. In the process of nearly losing his
life, he again found his real reason for living.
We received a letter yesterday from a patient we had treated for cervical
dysplasia, which we can usually treat quite successfully. Her Pap smear had
improved but not completely normalized when we last saw her. There was a
certain sense of disappointment for her as well as for us. The healing hadn’t
occurred as fully and completely as we had expected. She wrote in her note
that her Pap was now normal and that she was so grateful for our patience in
her healing process.
The Universe had a lslightly more gradual timing in mind for her healing.
Karma– Karma, literally, means “action” and corresponds to the
Western principle, “As you sow, so shall you reap”. In cultures such as
Hinduism and Buddhism, which believe in reincarnation, it is commonly accepted
that our circumstances of this life are direct results of our actions in former
lives. To our way of thinking, karma means that there are certain experiences
we have had in the past, either this life or previous lives, which influence
our current lives. For example, we have had exposure to a variety of different
healing methods and traditions. The moment we started reading about homeopathy
years ago, it rang remarkably true to us. Similarly, we feel right at home
when we practice Ayurvedic Medicine because of our strong connection with
India. It feels very familiar, as if we had known it before.
We often have a strong feeling that we have had some former relationship
with our patients. A few days ago, for example, a woman came to see us because
of a dream. She dreamt that she came to our clinic and that we comforted her.
The only thing which didn’t make sense to her was that Judyth’s hair was
shorter than in the pictures she had seen of us. The moment she met us, she
exclaimed, with relief, “You cut your hair! That explains it!” She felt very
comfortable seeing us. She said she knew she was in the right place and trusted
us from the start. We had a very powerful hypnosis session in which she
realized that her cervical polyp was warning her that she had to nurture and
love herself. She had dedicated her life to taking care of her husband and her
children and others, asking little, if anything, for herself. The message that
came through, loud and clear, in the hypnosis, was that her life literally
depended on her learning to give to herself, otherwise she would die. How much
better to find this out after being diagnosed with a condition as minor as a
cervical polyp instead of cancer!
Underlying beliefs– We all hold powerful subconscious beliefs
about ourselves, others, and the world. We have one friend, for example, who is
convinced that everything in his life will go wrong. This script has made a
strong impression on him since childhood. So, can you guess what his life is
like? His life is a continual struggle. He never gets what he wants. He’s
always looking for a better job. His body doesn’t function quite right. His
life conforms to his underly-ing belief.
In the same way, many of us hold such beliefs about our own healing. We
may believe, at a subconscious level, that we need to experience the same
illnesses as our parents. Even though we may be vegetarian, get lots of
exercise, and have relatively healthy relationships, we may program into our
thinking that we will still get cancer, for example, at the same age they
We recently saw a woman whose mother died at 42 of kidney failure. Through
hypnosis, this woman came to understand that her mother really died because she
was exhausted. She raised five children, had no time to herself, and had no
energy left to continue living. So, she found a way out. This patient had come
in due to depression. She had just turned 40 and had two small children. She,
also, was feeling that life was demanding too much of her energy. She realized
now that, even though she felt much the same as her mother did, she didn’t have
to die to be healed.
It became clear that her depression was a danger signal to make the changes
necessary to regain her vitality and happiness.
Another common belief is feeling unworthy of healing. Such a person may
feel that others deserve healing more than they do. Or that they will never
find a doctor who can really help them. Or that they should focus their
attention on others rather than indulging their own health concerns. Or that
illness and death is inevitable, so why should they expect help. Even though we
may not express, or even have conscious awareness, of this subconscious
programming, it may prevent us from receiving the healing we are seeking.
The magic of healing– In addition to all of the above, we believe
that there is an unex-plainable, mysterious aspect of the healing process. This
may play a part in what is commonly called “spontaneous remission” where one
day someone has cancer and the next day it’s gone. It’s that special element
which defies definition and scientific explanation. It’s the miracle that many
of us pray for and some of us receive. We wish you the best with your healing,
whatever form it may take.
Drs. Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman and Robert Ullman are naturopathic and
homeopathic physicians and cofounders of the Northwest Center for Homeopathic
Medicine in Edmonds, WA. They are coauthors of The Patient’s Guide to
Homeopathic Medicine and Beyond Ritalin: Homeopathic Treatment of ADD
and Other Behavioral and Learning Problems. They can be reached at (206)