Healing approaches

Homeopathy: The power of self-healing

nature red forest leaves
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By Lisa Glydon, homeopath

Autumn is a time to be more mindful of our health as we prepare for the winter ahead. Because just as the leaves on the trees change colour so the cells within our bodies start to shed. This process is needed to enable renewal and ensure eternal balance at the cellular level.

Our body comprises trillions of cells that make up hair and bone, tissues, muscles and vital organs. All of them are constantly striving to keep us healthy, but thousands of old ones die off each day to make room for new ones to be created. It is how the body self-regulates and self-heals. But how we look after these cells is up to us.

Confused?

The body’s self-healing mechanism is somewhat mystifying, not least because different cultures and disciplines think about it in different ways.

In Chinese medicine, for example, the health of the “whole” system, which comprises body, mind and spirit, depends on the balance of Yin and the Yan – opposites that when brought together create wholeness. Qi, which sounds like ‘chi’ and means “vital energy”, flows through the body and takes the form of five natural elements: metal, wood, water, fire and water.

In Ayurvedic medicine, which is practised in the Indian subcontinent, an individual’s constitution consists of three basic types: Vata, Pitta and Kapha, which are also based on the elements of nature.

While these concepts may seem strange to our Western way of thinking, they are actually derived from disciplines that have withstood the test of thousands of years of practice.

In homeopathy, meanwhile, the idea of self-healing is based not so much on the balance of ‘elemental energies’, but on a patient’s individual energy – their vital force. Although it is not possible to see this vital force under a microscope, you can feel it within you when you are well. When you are not, it expresses itself via the symptoms and conditions you experience.

The subsequent ‘picture’ that a homeopath builds up of a patient is based not just on their symptoms, but also on the history of their ailment, the history of their health and a detailed description of what a ‘normal’ energy flow is for them when well.

Such observations make it possible to study how someone’s energy is expressing itself in terms of their spirit, emotions and physical body, what is causing it to become ‘stuck’ and where – because it is this ‘stuck’ energy that needs healing. It is, in fact, our body is crying out to make us listen so we can help the energy clear and allow it to flow again.

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Unblocking stagnant energy

Sadly in the West though, we tend to see this expression of pain as simply an inconvenience and take drugs or other treatments to ‘suppress’ it. While doing so may help temporarily, because the body is always trying to heal itself, any problems will just express themselves elsewhere – and the symptoms may even be worse next time.

The aim of a homeopath, however, is to unblock this stagnant energy by using remedies that stimulate the body’s own means of healing itself – just as acupuncturists use needles to get it flowing again too.

This vital force is both the link, and the chain, between the physical and the subtle bodies of mind, emotions and spirit. It is programmed to work in harmony with the electrical impulses of our central nervous and endocrine systems and the glands that produce our hormones.

These hormones act like chemicals within the body, working as part of our biochemistry. If one hormone is out of balance, the others will be knocked out of balance too as they all need to work together to keep the ‘whole’ well. This harmonious teamwork maintains our equilibrium: A status quo of optimum health.

By way of contrast, allopathy (western medicine) focuses on biochemistry and the immune system as the key ways of maintaining health. The term ‘immune system’ is used to describe the lymphatic system, or waste disposal unit of the body (that is, the leucocytes and lymphocytes, which seek out and destroy invaders such as bacteria and viruses).

While the immune system is a critical element of dealing with dis-ease, it is also extremely limited in its scope. As a result, if it becomes the sole focus for healing, it becomes necessary to use treatment methods that do not rely on the body’s own resources to heal.

For instance, at this time of year, there is a big push for people to have flu vaccines, despite the fact that they contain many toxic ingredients and heavy metals. But such an approach is disrespectful to the body’s own self-healing abilities as it destroys and disrupts them – while making massive profits for the pharmaceutical companies at the same time.

A key problem here is that drugs and surgery only treat the symptoms that manifest in one part of the whole.

Yet many generations ago, the Greek philosopher Plato said: “The cure of the part should not be attempted without the treatment of the whole. No attempt should be made to cure the body without the soul. If the head and body are to be made healthy, you must begin by curing the mind for this is the greatest error of our day in the treatment of the human body, that the physicians first separate the soul from the body.”

The word ‘soul’ today may have religious connotations, but that should not distract us from the serious message in Plato’s words. It could be summarised thus: You cannot treat and cure the body without taking the emotions, mind and spirit into consideration.

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What happens during the process of self-healing?

When a dis-ease or unpleasant symptom occurs, homeopaths observe it carefully to see how it feels and how it expresses itself within an individual. Such information is then used to help select a unique natural remedy for them. This remedy will stimulate their body’s vital force so that it can start to heal itself.

Very often the first response will be a discharge. Homeopaths love discharges as they are all about drainage, whether we are talking about mucus, smelly perspiration, skin rashes, a fever, bowel or appetite changes. Depending on what needs to be healed, emotional shifts may follow too. There are often tears or feelings of anger or sadness.

Discharges can be thoroughly messy, but they are always to an individual’s advantage – unless they are simply too profuse and weaken the system, in which case further support is needed. But ultimately whatever the body has to do to get better, it will do – and we, as practitioners, simply encourage that process to take place until things are back in balance again.

The incredible thing is that, even as the body produces these shifts – or healing responses – the individual always starts to feel better in themselves. They always say things like “I’ve got more energy” or “I can think more clearly” or “I’m feeling back to my old self again”.

It is as if the body has been lifted out of its fog and is eradicating all of the things – the shocks, the upsets, the toxicity, the drug side effects – that was holding it back. Here are some examples of how it works:

  • Headaches can be relieved by nosebleeds, having a bowel movement, urinating more or releasing pent-up emotions, especially tears or anger;
  • Cystitis may be healed by releasing anger – it is where the old expression ‘pissed off’ comes from. Holding back strong emotions can make our system more acidic, which attracts bacteria to the bladder;
  • Food poisoning can be cured when the body expunges the problem by means of vomiting and diarrhoea;
  • Most asthma/eczema sufferers indicate they can breath better if their eczema flares up and exudes matter as the skin, rather than the lungs, acts as a discharge point;
  • A fever will break following profuse sweating, copious urination or a mucus discharge.

If we were to try to ‘stop’ these natural processes, we would suppress the body’s own healing responses, which as we can see from the discharge situation, is often a powerful reaction. But doing so would push all of that powerful energy back into the body.

Suppression is not good news as it prevents the completion of drainage and contributes to a compromised vital force. But sadly it takes place all too often today when people take antibiotics, analgesics or steroids. As a result, we are seeing more chronic autoimmune diseases and conditions than ever before.

Nonetheless, once people discover their body’s own unique power to heal itself, they tend to become more empowered and aware of how it functions. They become more involved in their own health and less reliant on drugs and other treatments that may hinder their self-healing powers. In fact, they also frequently become less fearful and develop more confidence in their own abilities, even when things get rocky.

Because to truly understand health, we also have to understand the process of healing.

Lisa Glydon

Lisa Glydon has been a qualified homeopathic practitioner since 2007, but she also uses herbs, supplements and Bach/Bush Essences to boost the body’s systems and help remove emotional blockages. She initially trained as a State Registered Nurse in London, specialising in oncology and palliative care, but now treats clients of all ages and with all kinds of conditions. Lisa also runs workshops and provides talks to school children and adult groups about all aspects of healthcare.

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Inspiring spaces

The perfect idyll: Finding some Breathing Space

Sunset
Sunset

By Helen Preston, counsellor.

I love being outside in nature, feeling a breeze on my skin as I start to let go of the day. As I surround myself with the miracles of the natural world, I know that I am part of a perfect cycle of new life, growth and completion. I can breathe deeply and connect to a source of healing much bigger than myself.

I particularly love the forests and the fields with trickling streams. I love British coastlines, the sea and the sand, beaches offering up tiny treasures such as a perfectly-shaped pebble that fits in the palm of your hand feeling cool and smooth.

I love the mountainous landscape of the Scottish Highlands and the rolling Welsh hills of home. It was growing up in Wales and spending my childhood outdoors that gave me such an appreciation of it all. It was my playground, real and ever-changing.

Idyllic retreat

So I count myself very lucky to have found a rural idyll in peaceful Norfolk, a women-only retreat that is aptly named ‘Breathing Space’. The building used to be an old rectory and has a large farmhouse kitchen, which is perfect for gathering in to share food and meet the other guests.

It immediately feels like home as you are invited to treat it as such from the moment you arrive. There is something special about being trusted as if you were an old friend. Some of the other nine visitors I met had been before many times, while others, like me, were experiencing it for the first time.

Although none of us had met before, there was an acceptance that we were stepping out of our everyday lives and could just be ourselves. Some, like me, were staying for one night, while others lingered for a few days.

Breathing Space
Breathing Space

A rare gift

One lady was a nurse, another a spiritual co-ordinator at a hospice. One woman had lost her husband. Several worked in the corporate world. One was self-employed and worked long hours. But we all were there to nurture themselves. Women often specialise in giving too much or think they need to be superwoman. The lady who had lost her husband had returned to work the day after his funeral but had never really grieved….

We all bonded swiftly over coffee and again later over dinner as we shared our stories and laughed together. One lady cried but did not feel she had to apologise or leave. She could just feel her feelings within the group.

It a rare gift to be able to be who you are in your sadness and express it by your tears without judgment or comment. Hugs are good but they are sometimes the last thing someone needs. Hugs can say: ‘There, there, don’t be sad. Wipe away your tears’, but maybe it is the opposite that is required.

Private space

At Breathing Space, you can stay in a former shepherd’s hut in the large garden. Set away from the house, it offers a ‘camping’ experience but in comfort. It was a quirky space and one that you could take yourself off to be completely away from everyone else if you needed it.

But I chose one of the rooms within the house, each of which is individually decorated and equally beautiful and comfortable. I loved the many personal touches: the lovely toiletries, the many and varied pictures that hung on the walls, the salt lamps and crystals, the sayings and little notes. A note on my bathroom mirror said: ‘You are beautiful’.

The kitchen was homely and inviting, housing a large dresser adorned with objects all imbued with special meaning. The lounge had two squishy sofas with blankets to cuddle up in and a log burner for cosiness in the winter.

Breathing Space's kitchen
Breathing Space’s kitchen

Pamper space

Several log cabins in the garden provided space for yoga and other group activities. You can book a range of holistic therapies, which are provided in a cabin overlooking a small lake. It is a perfect setting in which to relax and be pampered.

It was on the decking of this cabin that I chose to sit for my early morning meditation and yoga practice. Sitting there, watching the dragonflies skim the water, I felt completely at peace and at one with nature.

I did not booked a treatment this time but would most definitely do so next time. One lady appeared to float across the grass after experiencing an hour each of reflexology and Indian Head Massage. She still looked blissfully relaxed several hours later at dinner.

Slowing down

Time seemed to slow down the moment I arrived there. Just a few miles from the beach and a wetland reserve, there were no end of places to visit. Walking through the nature reserve, I was joined by a multitude of butterflies, damson flies and dragonflies. The sky was clear blue and the sun was warm. A gentle breeze cooled the air as I walked for hours in this watery wonderland, listening to the sounds of the birds. Every bit of tension slipped quietly away.

In the evening at sunset, I sat on the beach and listened to the lapping of the waves, feeling the warm sand beneath my feet. As the sun gradually slid below the horizon, the sky became infused with hues of red and orange. Still warm, still quiet and peaceful, it was the perfect end to a perfect day.

Because this retreat is special – it is a wonderful place to step out of the stresses and strains of everyday life and simply be. After all, we all need a bit of breathing space sometimes.

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Helen Preston is a counsellor, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) expert and reiki practitioner. Her approach to therapy acknowledges the crucial inter-relationship of mind, body and spirit. Helen is a member of the National Counselling Society and has an Advanced Diploma in psychotherapy and counselling, a Diploma in Hypnotherapy and an EFT Master Practitioner certificate.