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As changes occur, new discoveries can come, leading to more changes, and the possibility of a new path to reveal itself. Even the same question asked a year ago can be different today, now in a new context, a place of deeper penetration. There can and will be major "ahas!"; but the process typically unfolds within a series of small incremental discoveries, found and affirmed in the faces/voices of others. The doctor then is in a unique position to be an advocate for the patient, as well as an interested outside witness, on the cutting edge of helping the patient reflect upon their biography in new ways, reinforcing healing insights, helping turn negative self-talk or one-sided understandings around, avoiding cul-de-sacs of comfort or hopelessness, and providing a face/voice that is not bound up with the patient's diseased life….offering support for new ways of seeing and being that the patient can hold onto as they courageously negotiate moving forward.
To achieve this, an important dimension is how the doctor comprehensively encourages and engages the seven life processes (warmth, respiration, nutrition, secretion, maintenance, growth, reproduction) to help effect this healing and, in particular in this context, we need to speak about the often-overlooked process of secretion* as part of that healing. It is no accident that "secretion" occurs at the "turning point," as fourth of the seven life processes. Coming into a physical body is a falling, or separating out (from the Latin secretus, secretionem, "a dividing, separation…to set apart"; Genesis 3:9, "and God called out to Adam and said unto him, "Where are you?") from the spiritual world, that each of us carries as a private wound – our own karmic version of this "secret," uniquely shaping each of our lives. To heal, we must find our way back to spirit, by illuminating our secret – "secreting the secretion," as it were – but we must do it in a way that allows maintaining this illumination within a larger redemptive light that heals others around us as well, thereby manifesting the goodness of even our innermost darkness. This is a major life challenge for all of us. Few of us reach a level of "stardom" that radiates out light to everyone and is blessed with an equal love back. Most of us aspire toward some semblance of this amongst family and friends, at best bringing our secret forth in parceled installments as we're able. This desire to shine forth one's inner light and have it be wanted and loved is a strong drive behind social media today.
Allegorical Painting – 17th Century
Rafael's "The School at Athens"
Currently, this secretory process occurs primarily in the form of profit accumulation, where the secretion is monetized as a measurable embodiment of light (e.g., gold/nuclear power) to be privately accumulated on the basis of a commodity or service that fills/creates a need, but via a social alchemy where people are continually cast down into poverty for the sake of others rising – an economic cycle that recurrently must have devastating falls (crashes) as healing opportunities. "Wealth" here is the light that shines out and separates itself from the dark. The sacrifice needed for this is made and taken but not fully reflected back by those who take it. We all want to extinguish the darkness, to be seen only as the light, and this is why the darkness of disease is a "corrective" and a gift. In the alchemical refinement of our being which is the healing challenge of life, again and again we must learn how to illuminate that part of ourselves that has had to fall out into darkness, secreted away from spirit, in order for another part of us to rise up into light and touch spirit once more. We are beings of perpetual death – it is the only way we can have a soul and carry a spirit. This act of resurrection is a moment to moment reality that exists right down into the physiology of the rhythmic secretions of our endocrine system--to regulate our metabolism in greater health and balance, to open and engage our chakras to new perceptions, every day, every moment, we must struggle to bring our darkness, and the darkness we take in in order to survive, into ever greater light – becoming more conscious of what we take in for nutrition, of how to redeem/recycle the "ponderables" that we cast off.
In a patient/doctor relationship, the doctor can both receive and reflect the secret(s) from the patient as s/he struggles to attain light, and continually help the patient confront and rework their darkness on new levels – helping the plaintiff and defendant wade through the chaos, take up a new soul healing pattern to be secreted into their being, and discover some place of higher love. The secret, and the revelation, are two necessary halves, intrinsically bound together in an ongoing evolutionary dynamic struggling toward higher consciousness.
For any of this to happen effectively, there needs to be a conscious rhythm (a "breathing") of regular interaction in the doctor/patient relationship, with a doctor truly interested in the patient's life, carrying it in themselves, holding a space of warmth for it with genuine caring and concern, nurturing the discovery process, learning with the patient, witnessing their dark side, offering challenges at the patient's pace, as a proactive force within a deeper structure of healing. Years ago, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross discerned Five Stages of Death and Dying: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. Many models have revised this since, usually having in common the notion of "Acceptance" as being not simply an end, but also the prospect for a new beginning. We might conceive it like this:
"Acceptance," the bottom step of a downward spiral, when all seems lost, where the mood is one of resignation, can, with a doctor's help, actually be the tipping point at which necessary changes can occur, where people, having evolved to a place of being able to carry the full weight of their condition, are thus able to take on seeing themselves and others in life-shifting and powerfully different ways, such that healing not previously possible can begin to wash over them. Each step of the descent downward has its polar rising counterpart. Thus, with a certain detachment from one's past life that comes with acceptance, depression can become, with support, a stimulus for deeper investigation, a genuine wonder as to how and why one got into this place, and an openness to experiment with possible ways out. The mindset of "bargaining" with the condition, where one has not yet fully plumbed the depths of its seriousness, perhaps selecting therapies only based upon convenience or avoidance, can give way to a complete respect for the "teacher" that the disease is, and in this place of reverence discover greater opening to the ever-deeper meanings of its manifestation. Being in this position allows anger – anger whose expression is often an important part of healing – to eventually give way to harmonization, to finding a path of forgiveness, and aligning oneself with one's selfhood in a deeper, more coherent, and more integrative way. And when one is here, in this place, the possibility of surrender, true surrender that only comes with suffering, allows going to a place of deeper spiritual understanding, and achieving a new being, tempered in sacrifice, and grounded by the higher judgment of a stronger "I," which could only arise with the surrender of the old self.
With compassionate conscious support, with the vehicles of warmth, breathwork, nutrition, energetic remedies, bodywork/eurythmy, biography work, and other supportive therapies, the doctor can coordinate an important role in facilitating the life process along each step of the path. This is ultimately how the healing occurs, NOT in the necessary vehicles of therapies/remedies themselves, but in the evolving deeper narrative of a discovery process that radiates through them.
* See Rudolf Steiner https://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA170/English/RSP1990/19160812p01.html
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Robert Kellum, ND, PhD, LAc, LMT, is a board-licensed naturopathic physician. A Kolisko-trained and board-certified IPMT graduate of anthroposophic medicine, Dr. Kellum spearheaded the development of the Society for Physicians of Anthroposophic Naturopathy (SPAN), in 2012 (with other colleagues). Part of an umbrella group of practitioners within AAMTA, SPAN offers a five-year naturopathic training for certification in anthroposophic naturopathic medicine.