Moving away from images of war, or seeing our bodies as a battlefield can open up a new narrative for health.  @GlowImages
Moving away from images of war, or seeing our bodies as a battlefield can open up a new narrative for health.
@GlowImages

We need a new language when talking about our health. “We talk in military terms [about disease],” said well-known author and intuitive speaker, Carolyn Myss, during her colourful key-note address at the recent “I Can Do it” conference in Vancouver, sponsored by Hay House Publishing.

We “fight” the flu, “battle” cancer or “combat” a cold, and use such words such as “attack,” “defence” and “struggle.” We even talk about ‘losing or winning the battle.’ A careful scrutiny of health ads reveals many military terms in use – even for simple ailments. But does this “battle” approach improve our health?

The BBC recently aired a talk on this subject with Professor Elena Semino, Professor of Linguistics at Lancaster University. In the conversation, titled “Talking about the Battle Against Cancer,” Professor Semino pointed out that studies show that this language of promoting continual war with the body is not always helpful. In fact, many patients find that militaristic language hinders their recovery.

Continually positioning ourselves in an attack or defence position, mentally places us in a “flight or fight” mode, which is as we know, stressful. What if we laid down our mental weapons of war, and decided to develop a new. more compassionate  language for how we see both ourselves and our health? What if every conversation regarding our health included the idea of love?

This is not necessarily about positive thinking or of human love for our body, helpful as those may be, but rather it’s about looking outwards as well as inwards towards a sense of divine Love that is actually ever-present within us – and nurturing us.

The search to understand divine Love and its effect on our health is wide and varied, and many find it hard to explain what they feel. However, The Oxford Handbook of Psychology and Spirituality mentions that the two most common characteristics that were identified in various healing traditions were divine love and intentionality. It says, “Divine love was described as the power that impacted physical events, and intention was the characteristic.”

Dr. Wayne Dyer is perhaps one of the best-known speakers today on this subject. During the opening keynote address at the Vancouver conference, he spoke about his perspective and personal experiences with divine Love.

And the idea is not new. The simple yet profound healing ministry of Jesus shows us Love’s timeless and eternal operation and effect. Jesus looked beneath the outward physical signs of ill health, finding and speaking a language that healed both the inner pain and the physical needs of the individual. His teachings and healings moved thought away from the talk of fighting and towards a sense of love, and he is not alone in discovering that love, not war, is the great healer. Exploring more deeply how he healed and what that tells us about our own health is important.

A friend of mine (I’ll call her Ellen) discovered the healing effect of this divine Love after suffering for years from chronic back pain. In and out of hospital, she was “fighting the pain” on a daily basis to no avail, and felt she had “lost the battle.” One day when she felt particularly alone and exhausted with the pain, we sat and talked. I asked her whether she felt loved.

She shared a sad story of a life-long struggle to feel loved. I felt such compassion for her need. We began talking about that lovely hymn often sung at weddings, “Love divine, all loves excelling,” when Ellen suddenly had one of those “a-hah” moments. She had never taken the time to consider that she was divinely loved, or what that would even feel like. She had been so busy trying to be loving or looking for love from others, but had not nurtured a sense of divine Love that is always hers. How would she recognize the feeling of divine Love she wondered? I asked her whether she had sometimes ever felt happy for no reason, or just peaceful. She affirmed that, yes, she had felt those moments. “That’s God’s hug,” I told her.

Self-criticism and self-hatred along with emotional neediness was crippling her ability to see that Love was right there. Ellen was not a religious person, nor did she need to be as she began to take moments during the day to nurture and feed this sense of being divinely loved. The back pain diminished and ultimately vanished.

Discovering and developing this language of divine Love feeds our soul, strengthens and renews us and removes the sense of needing to battle. Judging by the number of participants at the “I Can Do It” conference, and their receptivity to the ideas being shared on this subject by so many speakers, I would say that we are ready for this new language. The 1960’s hippy adage “Make love not war” could take on a whole new meaning and dimension.

This areticle was first published in the Vancouver Sun HERE

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My interest in the relationship between health and spirituality propelled me to begin writing about this topic a couple of years ago.

I am a regular contributor to several news outlets, including The Times Colonist newspaper both in print and online with the blog, Spiritually Speaking which is hosted by the Times Colonist. I also write on an interfaith blog, A Spiritual View, hosted by the Vancouver Courier.

My long-time Christian healing practice and more recent writing journey has resulted in many interesting connections with health professionals with different perspectives lead sometimes to more questions, as well as discoveries about the healing needs of – and answers for – our world.