As we have spent April celebrating Hahnemann’s Birthday, and in turn Worldwide Homeopathy Awareness Week, it is fitting, in Hahnemann’s honour, to briefly focus on one of the key teachings in The Organon, that of striving to achieve the perfect mind/body balance. Gill Graham. BSc (Hons), BA (Hons) RSHom, DHMHS writes:
Coincidentally, (or maybe so synchronized) this has been a huge focus for me over the last few weeks, having been inadvertently put in situations that demand that it is addressed, with both patients and friends. It appears to be a state that many are seeking, but for whatever reason are unable to achieve. As a homeopath and holistic practitioner covering many disciplines, I see it as fundamental to good health and wellbeing. Edward Whitmont in ‘Psyche and Substance’ states: ‘The mind is the epiphenomenon of the body, and the body is the epiphenomenon of the mind. We operate as body-minds. The body is the visibility of the soul, and the soul is the life of the body.’ In other words, we cannot separate the two, we are not a collection of parts, and should not be treated as such. One remedy to treat the totality of symptoms is optimum; ideally, the simillimum.
Hahnemann considers that disease is an imbalance in the Vital Force and that homeopathy works by stimulating the body’s own healing mechanisms. Symptoms are natures way of indicating that something is ‘off kilter’ and needs to be healed. There are several references to this in the Organon: ‘In the state of health the spirit like vital force (dynamis) animating the material organism reigns in supreme sovereignty. It maintains the sensations and activities of all the parts of the living organism in a harmony that obliges wonderment (Aphorism 9.) When the body is in a state of ‘imbalance’ or flux the entire being is not in in harmony with itself, symptoms that appear are giving vital clues as to where the healing should be focused: ‘The physician has only to eliminate the totality of symptoms in order to remove simultaneously the inner alteration, the pathological untunement of the vital principle, thereby entirely removing and annihilating the disease itself,’ (Aphorism 21) suggesting harmony needs to be restored to the organism to achieve a perfect balance, contributing to radiant mental and physical health.
Hahnemann’s’ language and turn of phrase can at times be confusing and complicated to those who are new to homeopathy, and given that the first editions of The Organon were written in the last half of the 19th century, this is to be expected. Fundamentally he is suggesting that for perfect health the body needs perfect balance. Yesterday, this was brought to my attention in a very simple way. I was at a yoga class where we were all attempting ‘tree pose’ (Vrksasana.) It has to be said, there are certain poses that I have difficulty in mastering, this is one of them. I started to wobble, desperately trying to concentrate on a key spot, unable stop my mind wandering; the more I thought about it, the wobblier I became. I became distracted by the others who all seemed to be balanced, focused and ‘perfect.’ Eventually the inevitable happened and I fell; the predicted imbalance had become self fulfilling, I imagined I would fall, therefore, I did. In reflection after the class, I realized that to have the perfect equilibrium, it was not just about balancing on one leg with my foot up the other, it was a state of being in total alignment with myself, mind and body. Similarly, imagine a ballet dancer and see her posture as she moves gracefully across a stage.
It is balance that allows her to create beauty in her moves, her mind is calm and focussed. She requires not only physical strength but alignment and discipline and a strong mental focus and a belief that she will not stumble. Were she not balanced, the performance would be unstable, shaky, volatile and inconstant. Any state of equilibrium requires total harmony of the mind and body, fluctuations need to be addressed and brought back into line. The objective of giving the simillimum (the homeopathic remedy covering all aspects of a patient) is to achieve what Hahnemann termed ‘the harmony that obliges wonderment.’
In referring back to my tree pose, balance had more to do with my mind than my body. A chaotic mind makes for an unsteady pose (do not forget, in homeopathy, the mind is top of the hierarchy of symptoms.) On my next attempt, at a subsequent class, having realised the connection, I found that breathing correctly, focussing and visualising myself as someone deeply grounded in her roots, like a tree that can flourish because of this stability allowed me to be centred and calm, and less aware of the perceived perfection of others and more concerned with achieving my own level of composure and equilibrium. This is once more similar to seeing everyone as unique in homeopathy; there is not one remedy that fits all; individualisation is key.
What follows is a poem I recently wrote for one of my friends who has been diagnosed with cancer. I was in the Dutch Antilles at the time, by the sea when she told me the news. Shocked and sad I was driven to write, the ultimate in therapy for me; and in doing so recognised the ever flowing tides of the sea are characteristic of the ebb and flow of life and of the fluctuating mind body changes we all experience. True health is true equilibrium and as stated here ‘a divine homeostasis,’ the ultimate goal of homeopathic treatment.
Life is a series of waves
The ebb and flow lifting us up knocking us down devastating, cruel
But we are vibrant, alive when we are raised to the sky balanced precariously on the crest of a wave
Joyous, exulted, super human
Then we surf, riding high some day’s others, floating gently with no great flux
This is the calm, the equilibrium
The unforgiving, unpredictable waves sweep us off our feet we lose our balance and crash,
unceremoniously to the ground
floundering in the unfamiliar weaving our way through the tides to breathe to stand, wishing we were the solid rocks standing majestic, but hard, brittle they do not move, boring, static, impenetrable
We are flesh, blood, bone, brain and heart - thinking, loving, hating
We are capable of vibrancy, ecstasy, joy despair and disgust
The ocean inevitably calms and serenity returns
A deeper, more meaningful calm
A divine homoeostasis
Your holy fragile humanity has been nourished the tumultuous waves have been ridden.
Flourish now, as you will.
Balance; what we as homeopaths strive for in our patients; the waves are like the symptoms, warning us of tumultuous times, but ebbing and flowing as we address the totality. Life is not meant to be an everlasting calm ocean, but by riding the tempestuous waves, and addressing and hopefully correcting the route cause, the depth of our being; our very essence becomes magnificent in its serenity and equilibrium.