You are your best medicine

The most profound observation I’ve made practicing primary care medicine over the last several years is that individuals know more about their own health and healing than any healthcare professional does. Most of us have grown up in a culture where we are taught to seek professional help the moment we feel ill. Some of us even think it’s dangerous or irresponsible not to. We believe that the role of the doctor or healer is to “fix us” and rarely consider the necessity of our role in that process. This paradigm is disempowering and problematic. The doctor is not the healer- the individual is.

I practice integrative medicine in a large primary care organization. This means that I incorporate a lot of non-pharmacologic treatments, such as nutrition, nutrient supplementation, herbal medicine, meditation and energy work into my practice. People are usually referred to me for a second opinion on management of medical conditions that we lack safe and effective conventional treatments for. Prior to our first meeting, they have already seen multiple doctors, specialists and alternative medicine practitioners, and have stacks of medical records, conflicting diagnostic opinions, a list of treatments that have not been effective and they’re quite frustrated.

I am frequently amazed that despite this vast medical confusion these individuals almost always have an intuition about what the problem is and why they are unwell. They may not have a medical diagnostic term to describe it but they know what they are experiencing better than anyone and often have a hunch how to change it. Their instincts are usually right. In my opinion, this intuition is as important as any diagnostic test and the supporting data. The more we ignore our inner knowing and rely solely on extrinsic information about our health, the farther we become from well. This is why intuition cultivation is a fundamental component of the Seven Senses program.

The human body has the innate ability to heal. As cells naturally regenerate we can heal effortlessly. Though it may require professional guidance and self-care, trusting this capacity is essential to wellbeing. The pace of healing declines with age, which can be frustrating in the digital age, where we are used to seeing immediate results of our actions. Healing and repair is a slow process, resulting in periods of discomfort, but this has benefits. Times of discomfort are opportunities for growth. This is when we learn what is truly important for us and our lives pivot around that. Under these conditions we are forced to cultivate patience, self-awareness, and trust, which are foundational for optimal health.

The next time you fell unwell, pause before looking outside of yourself for guidance. Pausing allows you to fully feel and listen to yourself before you seek professional support. The pause enables you to better describe the experience in your body and access your intuition about what you need to heal. Bringing this awareness to a healthcare professional is so much more valuable than a list of possible diagnoses extracted from Google. It allows for a collaborative and empowering therapeutic relationship. You will likely walk away from that experience with a deeper understanding of yourself, your needs, and a sense of mastery of your health. This is the most profound medicine.

The Seven Senses process

Seven Senses is a process of awakening to a new understanding and experience of wellbeing. It is the path to a more authentic and connected life, where there are no limits to how great you can feel. The program is inspired by years of working with individuals and groups in the healthcare setting and observing how difficult it can be for people to describe how they feel and what they want in their health and lives. Many people can’t even imagine what it actually feels like to feel and be their best!

We are inundated with information about what constitutes a healthy, fulfilling life but when we integrate that information we often feel unsatisfied. It is common today to consult Google for diagnostic information, nutrition blogs for dietary advice, devices to tell you about the quality of your sleep or whether you have exercised enough, and a healthcare professional to tell you if you are “healthy”.  All of this information is valuable, but not when it replaces your ability to identify, trust and share how you feel. Seven Senses is a process of reconnecting with your physical, emotional and energetic body so that all of this extrinsic data is secondary and supportive to the supreme source of information, which is you.

Our process begins with a deep exploration of the self to discover what is important to you and whether your life reflects your authentic desires and gifts. Through awareness practices and grounding techniques, you will identify and begin to shed the cultural, societal or family beliefs and expectations that are not aligned with who you are and what is important to you. Letting go of those influential voices and the resulting self-doubt prepares you to listen to your whole self, rather than your thoughts exclusively. Holistic listening requires an awareness of your mind, as well as your physical, emotional and energetic bodies.

Nervous system control is another fundamental practice in the Seven Senses process. We will teach you how to enter into a parasympathetic state. The parasympathetic nervous system calms us. It is responsible for “feeding and breeding” or “resting and digesting”- the finer things in life. The sympathetic nervous system on the other hand, controls our survival instincts, or the “fight or flight” response. Gaining mastery of your nervous system is essential to be able to listen and accept your deepest desires, feelings and truths in a state of safety and security rather than fear and scarcity. Practicing holistic listening in a parasympathetic state results in an intensified ability to feel and understand your physical, emotional and energetic body. This is a new skill for many of us but it is critical for self-directed healing, thriving and transformation.

Holistic listening and nervous system control are the main tools you need to evaluate, redefine, and create a state of wellbeing that is uniquely your own. At Seven Senses, you will self-define health and wellbeing so it reflects what is important to you, as well as, your authentic desires and gifts. Through this process many people find that true wellbeing is not possible without addressing relationships and intimacy, nature and spirituality, work-life and sense of purpose or their creativity. These are a few common themes I’ve observed but there are no limits to what constitutes and contributes to wellbeing.

Through our personal and collective journey you will gain the tools to know when you are healthy and when you are not. You will cultivate sensitivity and awareness so that when discomfort arises, you will know what you need. You will know whether the source of your discomfort is primarily physical, mental, emotional or energetic. With practice, the Seven Senses process will radically change your relationship with your health.