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Cure or Catalyst? An Integrated Approach

In this world of instant gratification, people are geared towards finding a quick fix to reverse or avoid any kind of discomfort. Sometimes we don't want to consider a cause, we just want to numb a symptom. Other times, we want a singular, direct cause or explanation and an immediate 'cure'. We have been taught a rather simplistic overview of the law of cause and effect, whereby if you plant a watermelon seed, the result will be a watermelon. But what happens if the seed is planted in poorly nourished soil in the middle of a desert and doesn't receive any water? On the other hand, what happens if it is planted in rich, organic soil in perfect climatic conditions? The resulting watermelons will be vastly different in their appearance, nutrient content, resilience and ability to avoid disease. If we extend this metaphor to the human condition, we may begin to appreciate the many different facets that impact on the quality of our physical and mental health and well being.

With billions of people worldwide suffering from chronic physical and mental illness, an enormous amount of time, money and effort has gone into looking for a single cause and cure for multiple conditions. Perhaps this would give us a sense of control or perhaps this would mean that we could more readily sell a product. However, such a narrow view appears to ignore or water down the fact that we are actually extremely resilient, and our ability to adapt to adverse circumstances is profound. In an effort to maintain homeostasis, our minds and bodies will compensate beautifully and support our best possible level of functioning. Why then, is there such a huge amount of severe ill-health? Surely, we are designed to cope with a single, adverse condition? But this belief would make the idea of a single cure seem somewhat absurd...

Both personal and professional experience consistently point towards the need for an holistic, integrative, 'big-picture' approach to healing any form of dis-ease. We are not one dimensional creatures and yet the links, connections and relationships within and around us are often overlooked, with preference given to single aspects that together make up the entirety of our existence and experience.

I have heard many stories of 'miracle healings' in which the patient has seemingly made one single change that has resulted in a full restoration of health. However, when we look a little closer, we may notice that a shift in one point of focus actually creates a domino effect, resulting in MANY changes in multiple areas of our lives. For example, let's look at the chronic pain patient who decides to go vegan. Well, this change does not happen in isolation. In changing their diet, they are changing their consciousness, they are empowering themselves, they are putting faith into an action and behaviour which they can control, they start looking for evidence that what they are doing is 'right' and this strengthens their conviction, so they are more invested in a positive outcome (no-one likes to be wrong). They may start to shop in different places, speak to different people and read different books, thus shifting their entire world view as well as their daily habits and social network. They may become aware of related health practices and take up yoga or meditation or perhaps change from chemical based cleaning and personal care products to natural alternatives. All of these changes are profound and yet, the credit for their healing will go to 'becoming vegan'. It is clear in this example that veganism was the most amazing catalyst for a cascade of transformation.

Let's look at another example- increasing exercise. If a predominantly sedentary person decides that they are going to increase their fitness level and begin exercising regularly, it is unlikely that this will be the only change. In increasing exercise, they may become increasingly aware of their body's need for water and adequate rest. The relationship between the mind and body will shift as a natural consequence of requiring motivation and discipline as well as noticing injuries, postural difficulties and nutritional requirements. Perhaps they will join a gym or a walking group, thus increasing their social interaction. They will likely begin to structure their time differently- getting up earlier or going for walks on their lunch breaks. So again, there is not one but many changes that take place.

To call upon another metaphor, we know that a stagnant body of water can quickly become a breeding ground for insects and disease. Water requires movement and flow in order to remain healthy. Given that our bodies are largely made up of water, it makes sense that they too require movement and flow- not just in body but in mind also. The more rigid, stagnant and resistant to change we are, the more likely we will suffer from poor health.

With this in mind, it is my personal opinion that when we say we are searching for a cure, what we are really looking for is the ultimate catalyst that will create the best possible domino effect in the restoration of health and vitality. The catalyst will not be the same for everyone. Perhaps it is a change in diet or exercise, perhaps it is joining a church or spiritual group, perhaps it is writing a journal or taking a holiday and shaking up an out-dated routine. A catalyst by definition is something that speeds up or creates a change- it is a forward momentum, an energetic push which, in the human body, creates a ripple effect that is multidimensional.

Often, the area of life that is most stagnant or habitually avoided will hold the key as your own personal catalyst. When we have the courage to look at that which we choose not to look at most of the time, we transform our fear into power, our stagnation into momentum and our catalyst in turn, actually becomes our cure.

Luella is an International Speaker and Trainer in the fields of health, education and performance. With over 18 years experience in clinical practice including Personal Training, Kinesiology and Educational Consultancy, she brings a breadth and depth of knowledge that spans multiple fields. She is passionate about drawing together seemingly unrelated factors into an integrative whole to explain complex situations and conditions in a simple, and empowering manner.

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