“It’s just in your mind”. The risks of naive application of “The Secret” and the benefits of a wider view on what Cause & Effect, or, the idea that we attract our experiences does to our lives.
Dr. Rhea at her Napa Studio with Some Images in the Background of her approach to Physical Healing
Before I begin I would like to define what I look for to determine if an idea is beneficial or not. I do not hold on to beliefs or ideas unless they prove to have positive outcomes for me, or another person, both physically, mentally and in their lives in general. Does it make them more open, loving, healthy, vital and a successful part of their lives in all ways: their sense of purpose, their energy, their relationships, their careers, etc.
There is a very popular notion growing that we attract our realities. The movie “The Secret” assisted this idea to gain popularity. The problem with this idea is that at present it is creating an inner battle for many people. There is a battle between: “I think this belief is true, I think we create our realities with our ideas” and “why isn’t my reality (my body, my health, my relationships, etc.) changing as I change my ideas?”.
I previously wrote an article entitled “Fixing Thyself versus Knowing Thyself” to assist in orienting a bit to this idea. I will discuss a few more elements to this inner “battle” here.
1. It is not as simple, or “linear” as we think it should be.
2. Once something has resulted in a physical dis-harmony or disease most of us are so deeply programmed to require physical treatment that, in general, we are irresponsible if we do not pursue such treatment in addition to our mind/body healing techniques.
3. We do not just experience the result of our own, personal “causes.” We experiences causes based on the contexts with which we engage: social, cultural, country, familial, planetary, seasonal, etc.
4. No matter what happens in life, we get to decide how we are going to respond. Responding with the idea of “how can I learn from this, what good can I take from this?” is in general a positive way to move forward after a trauma.
5. Using the attitude of “responsibility” in life versus “I am a victim” of life is in general a positive, yet, it is important to learn how to do this without creating self-condemnation, which is detrimental.
I will start with number 1. The idea that we attract our reality is very attractive to most people. It can feel like an empowering awakening. The challenge is in realizing that just because we attract things does not mean we do not act on them as well. If you are sitting at home and you are hungry and you decide to visualize food arriving at your home, you might actually attract someone who brings you a meal. However, you also have a deeper set of ideas, or programming in your subconscious that has a stronger program, and that program is logical, and it says: in order to get a meal I must go to the store or to the restaurant and purchase food. I must also do something to make the money to have enough to plan to buy the food, etc. We can use visualization to our benefit, but we also must act on things and go to work creating them in our realities. Sometimes we attract them as if by “magic” but we also work at them, and the work should be acknowledged and also embraced as a part of life.
2. I have had clients come to me who have serious physical maladies expressing in their bodies who have been told by others that “it is only in their mind.” This idea is both naive and also irresponsible. It can create more stress for the person who receives it as they are unable to change their physical malady with thoughts alone. In my training I have been taught that yes, our mind relates deeply with our bodies, however, once something has become a physical problem: it should be treated with physical means. Just as when your car breaks down and you repair your car instead of “thinking” your car better, when things break down in the physical body they should be addressed physically. Part of this is because we are so deeply programmed from age 0-7 with the idea that physical problems mean physical treatments. It would be illogical to this programming not to provide a physical treatment. ADDING the mental and visualization can greatly speed the healing process and can lead to eventually healing the root causes of mental or, more accurately, subconscious/neurological programming that caused the malady to occur. The popular saying of “change your thoughts change your life/body” is true, however, it is also a more integrated process that should not ignore the physical. Holistic healthcare is an incredible partner to the deeper healing changes that can occur with the mental/spiritual changes as they take time to manifest in deep change in the body.
3. Our lives do operate by cause and effect. What we do creates effects. If we are lazy and do not move our bodies we will create the effects of this within our experience in our bodies. This is true mentally and physically. There is more to the story though. We also experience the effects of “causes” that are being generated by bigger “bodies” than us: these are the associations that we are a part of. Maybe we are a part of a bigger “body” in the form of an organization, and if something happens to the organization, we will be affected. It might be our family, it might be our country, and it might also be planetary. When an astral body such as earth shifts on its axis there will be effects. We as an individual might not have “caused” this effect. We can see that for some reason we were a part of it, and then, we can move to step number 4 and say, what will I do now? When I was a part of the experience of 9/11 and the World Trade Center was attacked I could not say that I, as an individual, was responsible for training terrorists. I could say however that I was a part of a broader cause, of certain “effects” or actions, and then I could choose to respond to that in any number of ways. I do not need to go into blame about it, simply, what are my courses of action now? Cause and effect is often more complex than a simplistic view of “I did A” and “therefore B” happened. We can still practice awareness however around what kinds of “causes” we set into motion and can create as much awareness as possible in our own lives around what we do.
4. No matter what happens in life we get to decide how we want to respond. It has been shown time and again that how we respond to life creates our own “heaven” or “hell.” I continuously go back to the quote by holocaust survivor Victor Frankl, MD in “Man’s Search For Meaning”: “The last of the human freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” The choice that we make in any given set of circumstances can make all of the difference. The ability to choose is part of what makes us uniquely human, it is our innate freedom, and it is one of our most powerful assets when used constructively.
5. In general we can create a much more positive experience for ourselves by understanding that we are happening as a participant with life, that it is not happening to us. Working with ourselves, with our unique personalities, our beliefs, our own preference for spirituality, science and religion are all important factors and our freedom in these areas is profound, important and awesome. Every person has the freedom to choose what they want to belief and how they will respond to life. I look for the ideas that assist people, in the most positive and broad way towards total person health, since that is my profession. One of the most imperative ideas to adopt is that one is happening “with” life and that they have the power to change their health and their circumstances if they will take action and empower themselves to visualize what they want and to take the necessary steps to get there. Harmonizing the ideas of the mind, the subconscious/neurological programming with the healing body can create a whole person approach to creating health and harmony in one’s life. Maintaining logic and an open mind along the way are also important.
You can not “fantasize” your way into perfect health. Life is an experience, it is not something, in my opinion, to try to “perfect.” Having ideas and physical habits that create joy, vitality and ease along the journey are more beneficial than the opposite. To this end I work to create tools, teachings and techniques (both mental and physical) that assist people, and myself, to experience harmony and well being in life. I hope that as these ideas of “positivity” and “attracting your reality” continue to gain momentum in popular culture that people will also learn how to integrate these ideas into the physical realities that they experience and work within their own experience and logic to create integrated systems for their own health and well-being that create inner harmony and healing instead of a little “battle” between “it’s in my head” versus “it is just my body.” It is about coordination of mind and body into life, not one versus the other!
This is a small glimpse into a large field of study, both historically speaking in the form of ages of holistic practices that have been integrating these things for eons (systems like yoga, Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine have long taught the coordination of mind/body techniques). As western ideas and scientific inquiry create discoveries that now allow us in western medical based cultures to integrate mind/body awareness into the fabric of our lives and experiences, I hope that we can learn to integrate them in deep and mature ways that assist us to enjoy our lives more fully and vitally and with greater levels of health and empowerment without denying any one aspect of what makes us awesomely human.