After my trip to speak in Bali June 2015, the New Zealand Complementary Medicine asked me to write on Mindfulness in Veterinary Practice. Then it was published in Chiron, the publication for the Integrative Veterinarians of Australia. Since this applies to our lives in general, I have adapted the article for your enjoyment. Because the newsletter are for members only, I can only offer (email me) this one on mindfulness as a pdf.
Mindfulness in Homeopathic Living
Having just returned from the incredible Bali Project conference sponsored by the Aurum Project, mindfulness has a much deeper meaning for me. Bali is a very special place where people actualize their devotion daily and in the moment. The presence of over 30 homeopaths increased the mindfulness of Bali, making a difference. How important is mindfulness in our prescribing? If you are a homeopath from anywhere in the world, think about asking Nyema and Jon to organize this again in 2017 (firstname.lastname@example.org). How important is mindfulness in healing our pets and ourselves? How does one achieve mindfulness?
While there are schools of psychology that teach mindfulness, to me being mindful is staying in the moment, with as few judgments as possible. Being mindful is bringing our mind (and heart/soul) fully to our task at hand, to let go of judgment. Hahnemann asks us to do this in our case taking in paragraph 83, “this individualizing examination of a disease case…demands nothing of the medical-art practitioner except freedom from bias and healthy senses, attention while observing and fidelity in recording…” This is mindfulness.
When case taking (if you are new to my blog and not yet familiar with homeopathy, check out some of my articles on this site) we need to also be mindful of our relationship to the patient or caregiver (your neighbor, your own pet or family member, etc). How are they subtly reacting to our questioning? Would we gain more information by using their primary sensory modality (visual, emotional, auditory)? Would they be more comfortable if we were closer or further away? As we question ourselves about our pet’s behavior we may benefit from sitting quietly with a journal or notebook, thinking of any symptoms that may be present now or in the past. Looking at the Early Warning Signs list may trigger more symptoms. Most veterinary homeopaths find our clients’ observations increase as they realize the value to us of every little nuance.
Mindfulness is needed when selecting the medicine as we need to consider all the choices without bias (we know that medicine, this one is in bold, that’s a dream proving). Sometimes our musings about different remedies are useful, sometimes they lead us astray, so we need to be mindful of which direction our musing take us. Those introducing homeopathy into their practice or using the textbooks at home for your animals can bring mindfulness to the length of time spent in repertorizing and selecting the medicine. Is there one room that is more conducive to pondering, a ritual before opening the repertory that focuses the mind, certain music, headsets to tune out distraction, or even a chime every 15 minutes to bring the mind back to the present task?
And of course mindfulness is critical when evaluating the result. If you are the pet parent reading this, you are really the best one to evaluate the response to a remedy. Many of us still act as if symptom resolution is a miracle, an excitement not generated when conventional drugs resolve symptoms. While we will get excited about one successful resolution of a symptom, the practitioner and the owner must be mindful of the whole picture for adequate evaluation. Part of evaluating the response to treatments is helping our patients or caregivers learn to be mindful of all symptoms and subtle changes. They increasingly learn to notice modalities and causations. They may see that their ability to be in the moment actually helps their healing process. My journal and Don Hamilton’s book are excellent for reminding ourselves about cure, palliation and suppression.
Very often I see pet owners being totally mindless, turning their thinking over to their veterinarian (conventional or holistic). In a class they may ask me if they should give heartworm preventative monthly, yet they do not know the cycle or mechanism of action of the drug. They have not researched the recommended vaccines, flea chemicals, and more. Since you are reading this blog, I know that mostly this does not apply to you, however all of us, myself included, become blind at times, so the reminder is good. A mindful consumer of medical treatment will take time to stop and research the options unless it is an emergency. Part of my initial intake is to encourage clients to keep a journal because they are living with their pets (or children) and if they take a few minutes a day to stop and reflect on any changes in health status they will know if treatments are needed, or if the current lifestyle and healing methods are working maximally.
Does being mindful help us heal? Does it increase our satisfaction in life? How do we achieve mindfulness? Much research is demonstrating the positive effect of mindfulness on our brains. (http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/what-does-mindfulness-meditation-do-to-your-brain/). The Life of a Yogi is a wonderful movie and there are endless books and research on the subject.
There are many approaches to mindfulness – meditation, breathing, stopping to reflect, yoga, exercise – and all improve health, fitness, focus and joy in life. I love Arkan Lushwalla’s Time of the Black Jaguar. At times I think I have done them all, yet did not see a huge change in mindfulness. Clear that I had never been prescribed my simillimum, I kept hoping that homeopathy would eventually keep me present. I went to the Bali conference (as I had approached many other growth opportunities) committed to healing myself and becoming mindful and present in my life, to no longer need to eat, read and watch TV as escapes. And it happened. The simillimum, at least for now, was Bali! While in Bali, and since returning home, I feel full, mindful and present for most of the day. My yoga is now a joy rather than a burden. Time is there for other healing practices. I make a food offering before most meals and am eating much less. Life is much more joyful even though I have always been a positive person.
How does this help you? Must you travel to Bali to become mindful? Of course not. My years of trying to be mindful were very useful. I was increasingly able to stay in the moment, or at least to return to it quickly. Like prescribing remedies, one can zig zag to a cure, or one can find the simillimum. The zig zagging I had done for years probably created the terrain for Bali magic to happen. My hips and back are still an issue, so there are more wonders of healing to happen. I will continue to zig zag and improve my health until I die. Speaking with a very enlightened friend recently, I heard another great story of how a meditation practice was revived and greatly deepened after a weekend workshop. For him, that was his Bali.
Being mindful enough to ask if you are being mindful, having a card at your desk, kitchen or computer – “Are we mindful now?”. Maybe permanently labeling your pet’s food and water bowls with “thank you for health, gratitude, peace…” will remind you to bless the food at each meal. Enrolling your family in supporting each other in mindfulness are a few ways to increase the health in your home and work. Take “mindful moments” frequently – taking deep breaths, focusing sight on something lovely, stretching or moving gently. Even in a challenging conversation, much could be gained by stopping for a full minute to breathe deeply, have everyone focus inward back to talking. I just read Dr. Amit Karkare’s short story, Let There Be Life, in The Fireside book of Homeopathy Tales (www.Books.hpathy.com) and he posits an even deeper level of mindfulness, and though it seems to take a guru to achieve it, it inspires me with the possibility of proving yourself – “…exploring yourself in the true sense, you regenerate within and that reflects on you. [and your practice].”
Health is a journey where we explore different options until we pass on to our next adventure. May each of you continue to seek the joy and happiness that you deserve. My wish is that you find your “Bali” experience, and until then, keep on the healing journey so you will steadily experience the incremental benefits of daily mindfulness.