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Self-help and self-healing programs aimed at improving health and well-being are experiencing explosive growth.
Reading books on these subjects, attending conferences, or taking training on various self-help and self-healing programs are popular activities among intellectually curious people. However, even if this is the goal of their quest, happiness, well-being, and serenity are not commonplace among these enthusiasts.
Undoubtedly, yoga and various forms of meditation are not only great tools for relaxation. By diverting attention to the practice itself, these popular activities help reduce the perception of daily stress and anxiety and are thus effective tools for maintaining health and well-being. However, when it comes to self-healing programs - although they are not necessarily doomed to failure - the odds that they will not trigger rapid or significant changes, or that they fail outright, are to be considered.
Those engaged in a self-healing journey through a spiritual awakening will soon realize that this is not an easy-going and quickly done process, but a time and energy-consuming lifelong battle. During their journey, self-healing enthusiasts will discover that Western culture mistakenly considers traditional healing therapies practices to be nothing more than a set of easy-to-learn, specific techniques and procedures - as is Western allopathic medicine. All traditional healing approaches are essentially spiritual and holistic. In holistic approaches, physical, emotional, and spiritual health are intertwined through what is called the mind-body connection.
Spirituality and meditation have a long tradition. The teachings of Lao Tzu, Confucius, and Buddha have undergone profound changes during the last 2500 years, as they evolved over an extensive geographical space and through large cultural diversities. During the late 60s, the concepts of spirituality and mind-emptiness traditional meditation have been hijacked by some enthusiasts of Ulrich Neisser’s cognitive-behavioral model and were shifted from religious spiritual practice to the practice of mindfulness - which is nothing but a mere cognitive exercise.
The mind-emptiness approach to meditation known in Western cultures as the Spiritual Emptiness, Creative Void, Hesychasm, Universal Soul, or the Clear Light is all about quieting the cognitive brain and focusing on feelings, perception, and intuition - while modern mind-fulness meditation is all about intellect and focused thinking. The mind-emptiness-oriented approaches have been systematically associated with measurable specific health benefits way beyond those observed in non-mind-emptiness approaches. Nowadays, mindfulness has lost its Buddhist roots and may no longer be useful as a tool for self-healing.
A good example of how traditional wisdom, concepts, and values have been manipulated for the benefit of cognitive models and their derivatives is the well-known quote from Mahatma Gandhi: “Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your behavior. Your behavior becomes your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.” What most people ignore is that, originally, this quote started with a phrase that is systematically erased with the intent to distort and manipulate the message of traditional teachings and to create the false impression of a long tradition of the cognitive model.
To restore the true message of this quote, before the phrase "Your thoughts become your words", you must add "Your beliefs become your thoughts". Adding this original first line to the above quote restores the truth and completely changes Gandhi's message by making it clear that, according to traditional wisdom, beliefs and intuition are the main source of life reality, not intentional thoughts as the promoters of cognitive models assume. Because, whether secular or religious, beliefs are the real source of everyone's reality.
When Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism and the author of the famous "Tao Te Chin", assures us that "If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place", he clearly refers to "the mind" and one should not wrongly assume that by "mind" he actually meant "brain" or "intellect". When it comes to brain and intellect, Lao Tzu is crystal clear on how to get the most out of it when he suggests that you should "Stop thinking and put an end to your problems". It seems that Einstein understood this message because on several occasions he declared: "I think 99 times and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence, and the truth comes to me."
Even if the experience of your fearful feelings happens in the present time, stress relates to past events and anxiety always relates to future negative outcomes. Because stress and anxiety are always time-shifted, the vast majority of stress and anxiety coping strategies revolve around the concept of anchoring in the present. Therefore, all of these "anchoring" strategies aim to highjack your attention and divert it from reading your unpleasant state of mind to keep your attention as long as possible focused on a pleasant reality, intentionally created and nurtured.
Unfortunately, as soon as you are done with your trick to cope with your trauma, your stress, or anxiety - whether it be the practice of yoga, mindfulness, art-therapy, pet therapy, physical training, jogging, fishing, hunting, or any other relaxing activity, you will start again your descent into your initial stressful and anxious state of mind. I hope you have better things to do in life than looking for temporary refuge from your stressful or anxious intrusive thoughts.
The effectiveness of self-healing programs is conditioned not only by the limits of your beliefs but also by the ability of the practitioner to focus effectively on their practice. This task is not easy to complete when the mind is crippled by overwhelming fearful or painful feelings, or by pain. This is why self-healing programs are not the best option in serious situations requiring rapid intervention.
For the irreducible enthusiasts of the practice of self-hypnosis, I must mention that the use of Somatic Hypnotherapy as a self-healing tool is not advised. The induction of hypnosis itself does not bring any health benefits aside from the relaxation. It is the suggestion contained in a hypnotic framework that leads to health improvements. These suggestions represent the hallmark of each type of hypnotherapy.
Spiritual awakening is a profound change and may happen only if you truly believe and practice. It seems that the intellect was given to us to trigger our existential curiosity and motivate the search for spirituality and not to understand it rationally.
Spirituality is not necessarily about intellect, cognition, or understanding. Spirituality is all about quieting the mind and focusing on perception, feelings, and intuition.
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Disclaimer: The above article may contain statements that reflect the opinion of the author. It is intended for general informational purposes and does not constitute psychological or medical professional advice. I don't diagnose conditions, nor do I interfere with any treatments given by your medical professional.
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*The results may vary from person to person.
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