Updated: Sep 24, 2019
The clinical cannabis experience and consciousness research have independently demonstrated nine mechanisms to deepen our healing process. Each of these mechanisms is subject to conscious intervention, and the more we know and understand about them the easier we can achieve the kind of healing that goes beyond the mere management of symptoms, and bring about profound and positive changes in the quality of our lives.
For instance, consciousness research in cancer has discovered that the single most common trait that determined cancer survival had been a sense of emotional authenticity. Similarly, many cannabis-using patients suffering from various cancers report disease regression in connection with the deep relaxation and frame of mind that makes it easier to accept one-self in the present moment even in the presence of otherwise intolerable feeling or emotions.
Another example, chronic negative affect, or the tendency to feel constricting emotions such as fear, worry, and stress have been determined to harm our well-being just as the opposite has been proven true. Cannabis is broadly recognized for its capacity to diminish negative affect and replace it with a gentle attitude, an easy smile and more optimistic outlook, all of which have proven to support out natural self-healing abilities. Forgiveness has demonstrated a powerful ability to supercharge our healing process. Cannabis can send a pink slip to the slave driver in the back of our mind that insists on punishment and blame as tools for growth and motivation. As a result, implementing forgiveness becomes easier and more elegant, and in doing so contributes to our healing.
Whether we are choosing to work with cannabis as an ally, whether we are working with consciousness alone, or whether we use a combination of both – the more we become conscious about these nine natural mechanisms to deepen our healing process, the more our natural healing abilities multiply. Some will appear more familiar to us, others may take a little effort to master, but all can be learned, applied, and used to deepen our health and healing.
1) Release Suppressed and Repressed Emotions: Clinical trials have shown that chronically suppressed or repressed emotions exacerbate a variety of medical conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and breast cancer and thus eventually reduce life expectancy. While suppressed or repressed emotions can make us sick and shorten our lives, they can be found, acknowledged and released.
2) Replacing Chronic Negative Emotions with Habit for Positive Emotions: Studies have shown that persistent experiences of negative emotions and stressful experiences can worsen chronic degenerative illnesses. The opposite is true for long-standing habits (daily exercise) and entrenched ways of thinking (seeing the best in people). Being prone to expressing expansive or positive emotions strengthens the immune system, improves quality of life and contributes to longevity.
3) Taking Ownership of Where We Are – Self-Acceptance: When we lack conscious ownership of thoughts and emotions that we have labeled intolerable or unacceptable, we spend a significant amount of energy engaged in avoidance mechanisms. For example, we may try to avoid unacknowledged emotions by bingeing on “comfort” foods that in fact make us ill. To reverse the damaging influence of our avoidance strategies, and the loss of vital energy that comes with it, it is important to begin by accepting where we are, no matter where we find ourselves. We need to find ways to accept and honor ourselves when we are experiencing self-pity, entitlement, envy, hostility, grief, despair, loneliness, shame, or any thought or emotional state we have previously labeled intolerable or unacceptable. We don’t have to linger in this emotional state, but to shift our experience, we must first accept where we are. Studies have shown that honest self-expression, alone or with a close and trusted friend(s), reduce both the frequency and the intensity of seemingly intolerable states of mind.
4) Conscious Choice – Healthy Choice: Every instant we are making a choice. And, these choices are not limited to the obvious, do I go right or left but include any number of perspectives each with different consequences to our physical and emotional health and well being. For instance, a fear-based choice can safe our life if we are standing near a cliff but can also prevent us from loving life or learning from new experiences. Generally speaking a choice based on unwarranted fear tends to be an unhealthy one and one grounded in appropriate love a healthy one.
5) Gratitude and Happiness: A simple gratitude exercise in which patients at UC Davis’ Medical Center were instructed to write down five things they were grateful for every day, using no more than one sentence to describe each item. After two months, researchers noted a heightened sense of well-being, more hours of sleep, reduced pain, increases in optimism, happiness, fewer physical symptoms, positive states of alertness, greater attentiveness and determination, high energy, positive moods, feeling connected to others, increased empathy towards others, and more positive attitudes toward their family.
6) Forgiveness: Psychoneuroendocrinology, the study of the interplay between emotions and hormones, has shown that hormone profiles respond to forgiveness. In one study, merely imagining forgiving an offender produced measurable improvements in heart rate and blood pressure compared to study participants who were instructed to imagine not forgiving them.
7) Replace Unhealthy Beliefs with Healthy Ones In the context of health and healing, it is important to understand that beliefs are not right or wrong, good or bad. Beliefs are just recipes for various emotional responses, each of which has physiological consequences. For instance, people with a significant fear-based belief(s) will often try to control their environment and the people in it. One of many expressions of a fear-based belief structure can be a type A personality, which numerous studies have shown to be involved in the genesis of coronary artery disease (CAD). Fortunately, we can choose to nourish or banish any beliefs we have made conscious.
8) Disease is a Message – Answer the Demand for Change Depending on severity diseases are a request or demand for change. In a way disease allows us to experience physically any unfinished mental, emotional or spiritual work in need of our attention. When we are finally ready to respond to the demand for change, it is paramount to interpret and understand the message correctly. If the message indicates that we must express emotions we have labeled “unacceptable” or face memories we have repressed, then this is the corrective action required to alter the internal landscape of our psyche.
9) Overcome Resistance to Healing (and Using Illness to Manipulate) When resistance to healing is present, a part of the self attributes something positive to the presence of the disease. Perhaps the most difficult thing to do in deep healing is to examine the reasons why we might not want to heal. A reluctance to completely heal could be a reflection of our yearning for attention from others, a belief that we deserve punishment, misplaced family loyalties, fear of loss, or an idea like “as long as I am sick she will never leave me.”
If this reluctance to fully heal is not addressed and resolved, we will consciously or unconsciously nourish the disease rather than our health. By owning, forgiving and releasing the resistance, we speed recovery.
Published by Cannabis Nurses Magazine