Last year I wrote the book, Solving the Autoimmune Puzzle, and one of the things that I talked about in solving the autoimmune puzzle is that we are each a unique puzzle. With any chronic illness, autoimmunity included, there are four corners to each person’s puzzle. The corners are:
- Your genetics.
- Your level of toxicity.
- Your digestive health.
- Your past adverse childhood experiences or stress.
Of late I have been talking about what I call Mystic Medicine. Why? Because the sacred has been separated from science in medicine. We need to put the mystic, the mystery, back into medicine because our attempts to make an evidence-based standardized medicine cookbook that assumes every single person will react the same way to every intervention is not working. It’s an impossible paradigm, because we are each unique and there is no one-size-fits-all diet, pill, exercise routine, or even amount of sleep we all need.
Autoimmune means you are attacking yourself. The mystery is why? What are you hiding from yourself that is keeping you on the struggle bus? The solution to your pain is not hidden from you; it’s hidden by you.
When I had my rheumatoid arthritis 23 years ago, I was able to reverse it within six months because I understood this principle intuitively. I knew that before healing could take place, first I had to ask, “Why am I killing myself? Why am I attacking myself?” instead of “How do I stop this suffering and this pain?”
Always, first ask, What is the lesson? Why is this here? The answer is in the Tree of Life.
The Tree of Life
I take groups to Peru, India, and Africa. This year, I’m taking people who want to join my husband and me to India in October. I run a medicine wheel circle while I’m abroad with my groups. It’s the same kind of medicine wheel circle that I do in my deep immersion retreats on San Juan Island, WA, but it’s for a longer period of time. We’re gone 10 days to two weeks and get an opportunity to really dive deeply into the work.
I have a teacher in Peru named Puma. One of his favorite things to say is, “This is the best day of all of our lives.” He’s a bright light and it’s just so much fun to be around him. Why is he so much fun to be around? Because he doesn’t complain—ever. When I say he doesn’t complain, I’m not saying we ought to be stuffing or eating our feelings. Just the opposite. I am saying to be mindful of your feelings when you have them. When you have a feeling, notice it, without judgment. Ask yourself, why you are feeling it? Ask yourself, what do I need? It’s less likely that you will head for the kitchen for cookies and milk if you stop for a minute and check in with yourself in this way.
I often have patients tell me they “shouldn’t be feeling sad.” I hear, “I have no reason to be feeling this.” They invalidate themselves. You do not like it when other people invalidate you, so don’t do it to yourself.
One of the things that Puma talks about is the tree of life. The tree of life is a sacred symbol around the world. If you use the tree of life as a figurative symbol and put it inside of you, then the roots are in your heart center, the trunk runs through your neck and your throat from where you speak your truth, to your brain, where the branches are. The fruit of the tree of life is your thoughts.
Now ask yourself if your fruit (your thoughts) is bitter or sweet. If your thoughts are sweet, you will feel loved and behave in a loving way. All mystics understand that within the pool of consciousnesses, it’s all just love. This means that when people hurt you, they are not behaving in a skillful way. They are operating from their shadow parts. It doesn’t mean they are any less part of God than you are.
Instead of judging the person that hurt you as good or evil, create a boundary with them. You don’t have to be around them anymore. You don’t need to judge them, and so your thought-fruits won’t be bitter and resentful; they won’t be angry. Anger is not a bad emotion. I don’t think of emotions or feelings as good or bad, but they each have their own vibrational level. If your thought-fruits are dried up, angry, and bitter, they won’t taste great. That’s going to translate into your body taking on bitterness, and it will actually influence your cells at that vibrational level.
In order to reverse autoimmune disease, one of the things we have to do is transmute our fruit, our thoughts, from bitter, resentful, angry, despairing, shameful, guilty, panicked, anxious, and fearful into love, into radical acceptance, into a shifted expectation about what life brings and what your body is supposed to be doing and what other people in your life are supposed to be doing. This is the tree of life of wisdom, of knowledge. This wisdom results in sweetness, which nourishes and strengthens your cells. Strong cells will allow you to be an instrument in the hands of God on this planet.
Is Your Voice Bitter or Sweet?
How you speak to yourself is important. Do you speak to yourself from a victim’s place, as in, “this person hurt me, and they are responsible for what is wrong with my life”? Those of us identifying with the #MeToo movement need to be self-aware or we can slip into this. Finding your voice and speaking out is fantastic, but what’s next? What’s the wisdom you were meant to get from the hurtful experience?
Leaky Boundaries™ cause leaky gut, which leads to autoimmune disease. “No” is not a bad word. No is not a bad word. No is not a bad word. I wanted to just repeat that again and again. “No, that doesn’t work for me.” “No, I can’t do that for you, but I can do this.” This is the way negotiation between couples and other people in your life ought to be happening. A bid, as Dr. John Gottman says, is when someone asks something of you. Dr. Gottman says successful marriages and relationships happen when you can meet 85% of other people’s bids. Then the fruit on your tree of life will be sweet.
But if you don’t meet their bids, then they’re going to feel invalidated and unseen, and they won’t want to meet yours, and then you’re going to have a lot of bitter fruit. That translates to cellular pain, which translates to illness and you attacking you because you don’t feel worthy and deserving of being seen or taken care of, or of being loved or respected or whatever it is that your bid was for.
Practice meeting bids 85% of the time for important relationships, like children and significant others. Tell other people “no” so you can keep your attention on what is important to you. If you have a toxic person that’s always asking you to rescue them, be a resource instead. Point them to resources such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Al-Anon or Overeaters Anonymous or the You Unbroken Program. These are programs that are meant to be resources, and they keep you from having to waste your time over-caregiving people who want to be rescued.
Your life also matters. You want it to count. I would say 100% of the people that are in my office with autoimmune disease are caregivers of some kind and perfectionists. That is double trouble. They’re trying to be perfect at whatever it is they’ve set themselves to be perfect at, and they’re caregiving everybody so that they don’t have time to take care of themselves. Meeting your own bids is also important.
Any time you have a thought like, “I can’t,” “I won’t,” “I shouldn’t,” “that person did this,” “I would never do that”… all such thoughts lead to bitter fruit. Put the fruit back on your tree, put it back on the branches in your head, and let it ripen into sweet fruit. In other words, think on it some more. Reframe your thought and pull love up from your heart center and into the branches of your tree so it can feed your fruit. Love is medicine, and this is the mystic’s way.
There’s a saying, “God gave us hands for our deeds, heads for our thoughts, and hearts for the mystic to love.” What you really want is to pull yourself into your heart space when you’re having thoughts of, “I’m not good enough,” “People don’t care about me,” “I’m not safe,” “ I’m having so much pain,” “my body shouldn’t be doing this,” “I can’t do this,” “I’m doing everything right, how come my body’s not responding properly?”
Your heart is where you meet God. Your heart center is where the roots of your tree of life are planted. I always treat people at the “root cause.” The root of the root is in your heart center. Any time you’re having any thought of being put upon, abandoned, betrayed, unloved, unworthy, put your fruit back on your branch, bring it back into your heart, and think it over again, and draw that love up from the heart and get some help from your older, wiser self
What would your older, wiser self say about your situation? What would any of the ascended masters say about your struggle? Always ask your older, wiser self or your spiritual connection for help if you are stuck. If you have a relationship with Jesus, then that’s who you’re going to ask. If it’s Archangel Michael, that’s who you’re going to ask. What about a power animal? A passed on loved one? The Buddha? Whoever it is that you connect with, ask for help if you can’t get past a bitter, angry, or resentful thought, because otherwise it will be like poison feeding your cells. Connect to that spiritual center right there in the middle of you, at your heart center.
The missing piece of your puzzle in solving the autoimmune puzzle is stress, adverse childhood experiences, and beliefs that are toxic. You want to put them back on the tree and let them ripen until they’re sweet. That means drawing that love up from the root and reframing your opinions and beliefs. It also means healing “leaky boundaries” by setting good boundaries. That’s part of loving. You need to have tough love with the people around you that aren’t willing to do their own work, and that willingness starts with you, to be able to self-confront and say, “Who in my life do I want to keep?” “Where can I meet 85% of their bids and where can they meet 85% of mine?” Let the rest of them go. This is a good formula to use to heal your leaky boundaries, so you can reverse your autoimmune disease.
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