By Alexander Diaz, LAc, FMP
In Functional Medicine, the nervous system is an important factor in the total health of a person. When the nervous system is functioning well, cortisol levels stay within the optimum range. This creates a series of down-stream effects that harmonize and regulate functions like immunity, heart rate, thyroid secretions, blood sugar regulation, and sex hormones.
Thus, healing and supporting the nervous system by helping it to enter the, ‘rest and digest,’ mode, is critical to unwinding many common diseases. In fact, because the conscious mind can alter breathing and thought patterns, mobilizing our nervous systems for health is one of the most effective ways to improve down-stream function of all physical capacities.
When a patient is unwell, clinicians determine the causes of the illness. In most cases, there are a number of inter-related causes, that often impact and worsen each other in a downward spiral of etiology. So we work with patients to affect change in as many of those causative factors as possible.
The more diligent our combined efforts, the stronger and faster will be the healing. And just as disease factors have a way of spiraling downward and degrading health, healing factors spiral upwards and link the patient with sensations of hope, wellness and progress that further their resolve to exercise, eat right, and think peacefully.
Pound for pound, efforts to heal the nervous system have some of the most significant results of any modality. Individuals can take charge of their mindful wellness, and begin making real changes. These changes ultimately add to the harmony and healthy functioning of the human system.
Yet this individual effort is often quite challenging, because of context. The patient is attempting to heal his or her nervous system, with a narrative such as, “I am safe, there is enough food, I earn enough money, I am trusted, people love me, I can love people and not be betrayed,”. Unfortunately that narrative may not actually match the reality of the patient’s world.
Our human society is the space within which all healing occurs. And it is a society full of suffering, deficiency, violence, and pain. This pain, just like the single patient’s disease causes, tends to spiral downwards. And whether we are working with an individual or with the whole society, it is critical to look at the reality of TRAUMA GENESIS.
As a single person receives trauma, he learns to think of himself first. He believes, based on personal experience, that the world is an unsafe place. He must be vigilant, cold, cunning, ruthless, to survive. His life decisions and method of interacting with people and planet become jaded and harsh. In many cases, he overcompensates, scrambling after wealth attainments in order to salve the wounds of his past.
As human society receives trauma, the direction and narrative of whole nations moves towards a similar means as the traumatized individual. The repercussions are devastating. Memes of rape, murder and profiteering become the norm, and are rationalized through media and institutions. The cycle worsens and continues.
Just as the mind and body are actually one single entity, individual humans and human society are an inexorably linked, unified whole. To create the best healing outcomes, we must shift our fundamental understanding of concepts to reflect this wholeness.
As clinicians help our patients to heal their nervous systems, we contribute to the unified field of all nervous systems. The greater the total quotient of internal peace, trust, abundance, and hope that exists within the meta-psyche of humanity, the more quickly that human society will move towards decreasing trauma genesis. Creating this upward spiral of healing on our planet is the most efficient way for us to save our habitat and protect the seven generations.
But beyond helping individual patients, in order to contribute to the unified consciousness field—which is a great service—we must also make cogent efforts to examine and improve the global human narrative. This means creating sustainable change in our bio-regions to grow a real context of peace, love and prosperity; a space for less fortunate peoples’ nervous systems to heal.
Ultimately it is not possible for a human being to fool themselves into believing the world is safe and trustworthy, unless there is abundant evidence that it truly is! However, it is very easy for a human to believe the world is unsafe, if they have enough frequency and intensity of trauma experiences to keep their nervous systems within that unhealthy range.
For example, only a minuscule percentage of U.S. citizens were killed by terrorist attacks. In fact, there hasn’t been an extant threat for 16 years. Yet media, including fictional shows and movies and ‘non-fiction,’ news outlets, keeps the trauma genesis alive and thriving, causing severe cumulative impacts on the health of our society.
Ironically, the [easy] repetition of this trauma genesis within western society informs a militarized interaction with other cultures. The anonymous death-from-above meted out in the name of stopping terrorism causes a tremendous worsening in the real situation of millions of people. So many are wounded or suffer the loss of family members, that they are inexorably bound in a life of trauma. They then broadcast that trauma to others and contribute to the downward spiral.
So from a psychological view, groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda are more just agglomerations of traumatized, scared people, reacting as humans are wont to do under circumstances of insecurity and oppression. This is not to support nor rationalize the actions of such groups. Rather, it is to highlight the effects of trauma genesis, coming from an unconscious and unbroken string of traumas, going back thousands of years.
Western nations’ bombing and violence were the crucible that formed many so called, ‘terrorist groups,’. But what formed the trauma in western nations that preceded this attack? Trauma genesis reaches back into the distant past, and lives within the narrative of cultures. So to truly heal ourselves and our planet, we must do the work of examining the past, finding where the fear originated, and realizing we can let it go.
America was an isolationist country, forced into WWII and our role as international hero through a premeditated attack at Pearl Harbor. Our back-lash reaction caused the death of tens of millions of Japanese and German civilians, while defeating the discernibly evil nations of the Axis.
The colonization of the Americas was carried out by people fleeing from religious and ethnic oppression in Europe. The birth of most western nations came through violent revolution against colonial powers. Our history is filled with war and pain.
Europe was a terrifying place, where absolute monarchs and an oppressive church meted out death at will. Food and resources were scarce, and war was constant. The trauma genesis of Europe dates back to the times of the Roman Empire, when traumatized people marched forth to enslave and extract from neighboring tribes, spiraling down a story of hate and fear.
The trauma of Rome dates back to its early defeat and sacking at the hands of the Gauls in 396B.C.E. After this rape and murder, the Roman people formed themselves into a great military machine. 400 years later, Julius Ceasar’s legions meted out a similar punishment, largely to ethnic Gauls.
History is not filled with the actions of evil men. It is filled with the unconscious expression of trauma, through entire cultural narratives. As such, to create the greatest healing impacts, every conscious human being must help contribute to the medicine of our cultures and stories.
We can only go so far by healing individuals. We must work together to heal the whole. But in today’s world, conscious individuals do not necessarily have the authority to influence the actions of governments or large power structures. This can be frustrating in the extreme.
Yet we as conscious beings do have a great power. In fact, this power is the only pure light that can shine into the dark recesses of the human soul, and medicine ourselves back from the brink of ecological suicide. It is a power vested in belief.
We must believe that the world is safe, abundant, and good. We must perceive Mother Earth as the perfect haven for our lives and the lives of all species. We must trust in others and ourselves to create space for not only surviving, but thriving.
And we must actually create that world, actively, with our every thought, word and deed. The more conscious one becomes, the more inner authority is cultivated. This inner authority rejects and dismisses thoughts of greed and fear. It holds to the truth of love. And it informs action.
There are myriad ways to create safe space. We must create space within ourselves, overcoming fear and anger. We must create space within our families, soothing patterns of fighting and argument to find compromise and harmony. We must create space within our workplaces, holding our hearts above pettiness and judgment. We must create space within our land, cultivating the soil and enjoying the abundance of Gaia’s bounty.
And every iota of effort we-as-healers put into creating this space, ripples out into infinity. We cannot even fathom the down-stream impacts of the humble work we do to make a safer and more peaceful world.
For the world, as a peaceful or as a violent place, is simply a gestalt accumulation of the actions and thoughts, whether conscious or subconscious, of the totality of humanity, interacting with all species. There is no magic button that switches us over to planetary harmony. There is just the hard work of building a resilient mind that actually recognizes the merit of each moment, and letting that mind inform one’s communication and service.
And fortunately, this work DOES build critical mass. We begin witnessing outcomes, not only in individual human wellness, as many of us heal and feel safe and become empowered; but in social wellness, as the general zeitgeist of national and cultural narratives moves towards the light of love.
This takes time and energy. But it does develop momentum. In 1833, the British Empire outlawed slavery. It took 30 more years to abolish the practice in the US. Other nations took even longer. Today, despite some pernicious racism, slavery is drastically reduced in the world.
Change can, does, and is happening. My entreaty to you is to make that change a conscious medicine-work. To embrace the truth of your space in the world right now: you are healthy, safe, and held.
While our president and our government are acting out of trauma genesis, and finding support from scared, traumatized people, we can hold space for their healing. We can remember the way of peace, the way of God. We can make huge, limitless changes in the lives of others and ripple out the consciousness of trust and abundance to all corners. There is no stopping us. We are safe, and we are free.
Alexander Diaz is a practicing clinician in Hawaii. His book, “The Path of Man: How to be a Hero,” is available for purchase on amazon.com, or as a free e-book with subscription to his mailing list.