EMERGENT HEALING PARADIGM
THE EMERGENT HEALING PARADIGM
Intent Mediated Healing
Iona Miller, Asklepia Foundation, 2003
You ought not to attempt to cure the eyes without the head,
Nor the head without the body,
So neither ought you attempt to cure the body without the soul
for the part can never be well unless the whole is well.
--Plato: Charmides, 156e
For most of human history, healing has had to do with contact with spirit, with consciousness, with rituals intended to create a shared biofield with a shaman who seemingly could exert mind over matter. This spiritual technology has yielded to technological medicine governed by the rational protocols of science. But noting that medical intuition and therapeutic rapport are real forces in the healing process, many practitioners are moving toward a new paradigm or model of healing.
Anomalies such as the proven power of prayer, placebo effect, spontaneous remission, therapeutic intentionality, and remote healing hint that the irrational, the mysterious, is an inherent part of the natural healing process. When we become ill, the fundamental nature of consciousness is revealed as it relates to both mind and matter, psyche and soma. Consciousness may be more fundamental than either energy or matter, as the Vedas claimed centuries ago. At this sensitive threshold, miniscule changes in the situation can lead to large differences in the outcome.
THE QUANTUM SELF
We need to remold our healing institutions to conform with new physics to develop a contemporary understanding of the mind/body. A new model of the human organism is emerging - a holistic rather than mechanistic model that theorizes our basis in the quantum world; it means healing can happen in very subtle ways, perhaps even at the quantum level.
“Emergence” is the process by which order appears spontaneously within a system. It is essential to understanding functional consciousness, the mind/body, subjective experience, and the healing process. When many elements of a system mingle, they form patterns among themselves as they interact.
When the mind lets go of its rational order, lets the old form die, and enters into unstructured chaos, the whole person emerges with a new form, embodied as a creative expression, an intuition, or as healing. Most often it is characterized by an element of novelty and surprise, since it apparently does not originate in what came before. Both healing and medical intuition are examples of emergence. It is a spontaneous solution to a problem.
The healing arts, from conventional medicine to alternative/complementary medicine, and from psychology to pastoral counseling are undergoing a shift from a mechanistic to a holistic paradigm. Science is actually an experimental philosophy whose highest value is empiricism, and conventional healing shares this philosophy. All new scientific theories require some unifying idea, and that idea is, by definition, metaphysical - essentially untestable.
Today’s heresies are tomorrow’s dogmas. In any metaphysical dispute, strong non-scientific arguments can propose new theories, which may become scientific. Speculative ideas have contributed heavily to the growth of knowledge.
Rather than discouraging exploration of fringe areas of knowledge, this awareness makes it mandatory we explore all possible modalities and anomalies without prejudice, no matter how unconventional. Even extraordinary subjects may be approached with rigorous protocols. Though subjectivity is unwelcome in science, we can study the subjective nature of experience (qualia) in various ways. The process of healing is one such subjective experience.
The alchemists, who were students of consciousness in matter, created an elixer of life, a “medicine of philosophers”, a cure-all or panacea. What the modern world yearns for is a “meta-syn,” or visionary synthesis rooted not in a mechanistic model but one using nature’s own forms of self-organization.
This model is based on the peculiar characteristics of nonlocality and probability of quantum physics, rather than classical Newtonian mechanics. Hopefully, the new model has the power to resonate with our whole being and propel us into a more effective healing paradigm. Emergent healing is actually a treatment philosophy, rooted in a worldview born from our current understanding of the nature of Reality.
The emerging paradigm is a more subtle and energetic model of health. In the emergent healing paradigm, healing depends on the nonlocal principles of nature’s own self-organization, as well as on direct causal influences on the mind/body of the organism. It appeals to spirit, soul, and body.
Recognizing the complexity of reality, the new paradigm includes a series of perspectives, which emphasize the positive rather than pathological, health rather than sickness, and a holistic approach to health care.
In this qualitative, rather than outcome-oriented approach, subjective experience and process are valued. The fusion of mind, emotions, body and spirit is recognized as central. In this ecological approach, the individual is embedded within larger systems, not isolated as a disease process. When we treat a symptom or disease rather than the whole person, we treat the part not the whole.
Interdependence of individuals, societies, and nature can be honored. As our knowledge of nature is increased, our knowledge of our own nature also grows correspondingly. Health, self-healing, and therapeutics is a balance supported by many disciplines, including physics, biology, and psychology as well as medicine.
We have all noticed that often the physical body is healed, but not the emotional trauma; or perhaps there is spiritual or psychological healing, but not physical cure. Therefore, it only makes sense to treat the whole person, rather than just the symptomology.
Paradigms underlie the interplay of chaos and order in human culture, at the conscious and unconscious, collective and individual level. These tacit belief systems act as lenses through which all sensory data passes before it is experienced as perception. Some perceptions arrive relatively undisturbed while others are subject to immediate characterization, distortions, and value-judgments.
Old ideas die hard. The established order, materialism, is entrenched. Establishment science is always resistant to new ideas. Science deals with models and metaphors of our perception of reality. We have had science less than 500 years, but in that time it has transformed much of the world technologically, intellectually and physically.
Scientific models change as exploration leads to the discovery of new facts and approaches that work. Still, new models are slow to be embraced. The dominant worldview hangs on as tenaciously as geocentric religious views did in the Dark Ages.
A paradigm is a working set of assumptions and postulates, (a disciplinarian matrix), about a field of inquiry or practice such as healing. How we envision healing is as important as how we proceed to try to heal. It governs our protocols, what we notice and fail to notice, and how we evaluate the results. The theoretical construct defines our approach and methodology. It gains momentum over time.
Scientific exploration is not a linear process, but results from competition among theories. The best results of each system are then woven into a seamless fabric that, at least temporarily, defines the nature of that field. New observations can lead to complete revisioning of a discipline, like the emergence of quantum mechanics did in physics. Filling in theoretical gaps leads toward better explanations and solutions to problems.
Sometimes new paradigms coexist and develop alongside one another, until one supersedes the other. This is paradigm shift. Such has been the case in concurrent development of allopathic and alternative or energy medicine, also called integral medicine.
Both the conventional and integral approaches have long, noble histories, one rooted largely in western culture, the other in Asian systems. Allopathic doctors and patients themselves now recognize that strictly reductionistic and technologically-based medicine has its limitations in contemporary healthcare.
Objective science can be devoid of higher purpose and intentionality. Thus, we find ourselves with a host of ethical dilemmas in genetic engineering, transplant research, geriatrics, pharmacology, cloning, technological intervention, and molecular biology.
The relativism of postmodern deconstructionism has undermined all theoretical perspectives, turning them into or exposing them as social constructions. It is true that the healing arts are riddled with political, religious, and cultural biases. Health care has been delivered in terms of a power relationship over the body, superimposed on its biology.
There is a strong desire from the both the scientific community and public for a health system that values personal relationships, emotions, meaning, and beliefs. They connect body, mind, spirit, and society.
It is crucial to realize there is both rational and paradoxical healing, and both are vital to our well-being. Paradoxical thinking is unpredictable, unique, unforgettable, unrepeatable, and often indescribable. Breakthroughs are often paradoxical in nature, seemingly absurd, yet in fact true. Rational healing relies on doing, while paradoxical healing is rooted in ways of being. Physician Larry Dossey says it requires, “standing in the Mystery.”
There is a yearning to return “mystery” to the mechanistic arena of healing, so we can face illness and disease as whole organisms. Transpersonal forces have a valid place in healing, as they do in all areas of our existence. Many people have a sense of the importance of actively integrating spiritual principles with the material world.
The whole-systems approach co-exists with conventional medicine and is making inroads among its practitioners. Treating causes as well as symptoms, it mobilizes the patient’s will to live. It fosters the inner dimensions of the healing experience. The healing response includes behavioral, mental and spiritual shifts or transformations.
Health is the natural outcome of a meaningful life, not just absence of symptoms. It means a comprehension of the complexities of life that is deeper than the conventional worldview of cause and effect. It proposes that consciousness is the foundation of reality. We do not exist independently from the universe, but the exact nature of that seamless connection is unknown.
Rooted in relativity, quantum, holographic and chaos theories, a metaphysical context is provided to justify such a paradigm shift from the purely causal healing model. The interactive field (psychodynamic field) present in healing situations can be amplified intentionally through therapeutic entrainment, or resonant feedback playing off the unified field (universal field).
NEW CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
No science or healing is independent of the realities of our fundamental consciousness. Consciousness is a process not an object. Neuroscientists have begun to study consciousness, both in its functional and universal aspects.
Some scientists try to reduce matter (brain cells) to consciousness while others are trying to reduce consciousness to matter. Some suggest (Newell), echoing ancient philosophies, that Absolute Consciousness may be a field that is always everywhere.
We are not discrete entities but deeply embedded within the fabric of the universe. The essence we share, more fundamental than matter and energy, may well be primordial consciousness. It may be the very basis of materiality, as the Vedas implied centuries ago. Consciousness involves the integration of information, not just a passive array of information itself.
We have many ways, besides our senses, of interfacing with reality, including intentionality, intuition, somatic perception, and direct apprehension. The new integral model of health and mind/body healing recognizes and operates from this expanded perspective and innovative medical options.
Consciousness - the intersubjective dimension -- may be a stronger dynamic causal factor in healing than previously considered. Incorporating the full spectrum of human experience into healing promises new possibilities, new outcomes, which have been neglected in the biomedical model.
Conscious intentionality may influence subtle electromagnetic or quantum field energy processes. It affects the exchange of information at the cellular, organismic, and social level. Exceptional states of awareness (such as meditation, shamanic journeying, dreaming, dissociation, etc.) can lead to exceptional results, but they also require exceptional proof that may be difficult to produce in the laboratory or document objectively.
The emerging worldview extends our concepts beyond the domain of purely objective, reductionistic realism - materialism. The trend is moving from biophysical to psychophysical and psychospiritual dimensions without loss of scientific rigor.
Just as physics seeks a unified field theory, so the healing process needs a model that accounts for the mechanisms of natural healing and its anomalies such a placebo effect, spontaneous remission, even distant healing. Consciousness may just be an expression of such a universal field.
Models of healing in which disease is seen as an invasive process and the treatments are also invasive can give way to those following a natural, evolutionary course. Rather than comparing healing to a fight, or war on an external invader, we can imagine it as the creation of healthy processes. New forms emerge from adaptations after the breakdown of old forms. In this synergetic view, the organism interacts with its total environment.