Saturday, April 7, 2012

Are You Using Both Sides of Your Brain?

Finches impatiently waiting to feed
In looking at the science and art of homeopathy, I am struck by the inclusion of both hemispheres of the brain in using this wonderful modality. We listen and look at our clients; we analyze. We read our rubrics, and select which thoughts best convey our conception of the client. We may come to a few remedies that we feel are right, and whether through intuition backed by logic, or logic alone, we dispense a particular essence to our clients. This composition is rife with words that use one part of the brain. The act of typing involves both. Should we go to our software and look at families of remedies, we may take in text, and various icons or images that engage both sides of our brain. Left brain is hunter, killer, logic, analytic, causal, and linear. Right brain is iconic, illogical, intuitive, nurturing, empathetic.

Recently reading a skeptic's post on homeopathy online, it struck me that most of these skeptics are men. Most are young and white. I thought it odd, and talked with a fellow homeopath about his thoughts. He perceived them to be angry young men engaged in some science based career, feeling they didn't quite live up to the solid science academia that would recognize their talents. I got the feeling that they were angry they felt slighted by the scientific world, not being bright enough to make a name for themselves. After thinking on this for a long time, I added a bit more to it. Most homeopaths are women, most skeptics are men. Most women use their right brains, buttressed by their tendency to listen to intuition, and, having children, a nurturing tendency. Most men use their left brain, and tend to prefer science and logic over intuition and nurture. These men went deeper into their left brains, instead of correcting the imbalance. The imbalance comes when one lives solely on one side; when a man becomes too vested in his logical, alphabet-dependent left brain, which favors math and science. This is true with women, as well, when logic flies out the window, and intuition and emotion carry the reasoning away. When one lives too much on one side, perversity and psychosis can develop. Often, though, I find myself telling new mothers in my office to listen to their intuition; nothing brings it out more than a newborn baby. We were told by Dr. Spock to let the baby cry; a male writing a book on something we should have trusted ourselves to know! We are so much in our right-brain after childbirth, there is often that 'lost-my-brain' feeling we often describe as new moms. The left brain (memory, linear thinking) takes a back seat to our right brain (nurturing, intuitive), so desperately needed to raise our young.  How often does the young mother, craving some left-brain stimulation, feel ravenous for some adult conversation? This may be the overworked right brain letting her know there is an imbalance.

What about ridicule, a tool often employed by skeptics?  This is a fear-based, rigid reaction to losing power. The left brain is struggling to maintain power, and the right brain is dormant. The hunter/killer instincts are overdeveloped, and seeking blood. Feeding this need, the skeptic attacks, over and over, unaware of how it must look to onlookers. Looking back through history, we see the overreactions to new thought, new paradigms: witch hunting was the most obvious of these overreactions. Killing women was the largest mass murder in history, a hysteria there was no basis for it. Here were left-brain centered men attacking harmless, innocent women, and often children.

A junko pretends he's a finch
Sometimes, as with homeopathy, we must use both sides; either side will not carry the day. We must use our senses and our logic, our intuition and our analysis, to be successful. I've noticed sometimes, that I have a strong hunch that one remedy will be better than another. When alone, I often do not verbalize or cogitate on the reasoning. When at clinic with another homeopath, I often must. I now see how and why this happens, and realize it is more that I intuit something that has an actual logical thought process; selecting the remedy is often just the most obvious point this occurs.

How often do we use one side of our brain too often? Can you see in your own life where you may become stuck on one hemisphere? Too much book-reading, not enough image, or vice versa? I often feel the need to spin wool into yarn, or knit a few rows, just to center myself. It's often when my left side has become hypertrophied, and my right brain is screaming for attention. This morning I went outside with my tea and book. I sat and watched the finches fighting for room at the feeder. Even with 5 pages left in my book, I could not concentrate, and sat watching the finches till my right brain was happy. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Taking It Slow

Ecstatic mustard
Sometimes life gives us a message. Sometimes it’s pretty loud. Other times it’s a whisper, a gentle nudge. A hand waving in your face when you’re focused on the distant mountains. We listen or not, we see or don't. We may not have another chance. Is this a bad thing? I don’t know. 

Recently I had a doctor berate me because I hadn’t had some exam that was expected. I got the typical run around about how they can find things 15 years before they become a problem. I responded by saying that it may never become a problem. Why would you want to go to the doctor and check regularly for growths? How many parts of your body are you going to do have checked? I'm not interested. I'm the kind of optimist that will step in a mud puddle expecting it to be shallow. It always has been.

Tomatillos holding seed
You can excise something and take it away, but your body grew it, it came from you. It’s your disease. You can’t hide it, it’s your burden. I say let it go. Maybe it disappears in 5 years. Or wait 15 years. Deal with it. Find out what makes it go away. Awhile back a close family friend said he would never go back to a hospital ever, for anything. I immediately thought, no, you must go, I wouldn’t want to lose you, and neither would your mate. But thinking about that sentiment lately, I realize it was selfish. It’s his call. He must decide what he wants to do with his life, and no one else.

Happy parsley
If you can walk in someone else’s shoes, then you may see. I see now the point he made. Is it really necessary? Do we need to intervene in someone else’s path? What if they find what they are seeking on that road, the joy from the little things in life, instead of the cold hard world of a hospital? This may sound funny coming from a woman that went through IVF many times to have a wonderful, healthy, happy pregnancy and baby. But sometimes we don’t focus on the things we’re doing while we’re living through them. We focus on the goal. I always knew I’d have my baby, and I stayed the course through a lot of pain and sorrow. I’m so happy I did. I can look back and see the grief, but so much more the joy from looking at his face.  

Almost looks like snakeskin.
Having this son, I have had so much more from life, seeing the things we shared. I remember taking him to the health food store before he could talk, and letting him point to what he thought we should buy in the produce section. It was an experiment. I learned about passionfruit, cherimoya, and many other fruits and vegetables I’d never tried. Now I’ve let him go, finding his own way and am confident his childhood was happy and sound. 

 When I look around my garden, and dig my fingers into the dirt, pulling up a carrot, or removing a caterpillar, I feel the life, and love the wholeness. I wander outside and pick a few leaves of sorrel, munching on them as I water the blueberries and blood orange tree on the porch. The blood orange that’s never had a single blossom will bloom when it’s ready. I’m confident I will find the right combination, not allowing the clover or the vetch free reign at its feet, not too much citrus food, just the right amount of water, to make it healthy and productive.

Out for a walk: Luna, Renita, Jane, Rio

There is so much to be thankful for; these wonderful friends, human and animal, the wild and the tame, the life and the death.
Yesterday, Luna, my friends' almost blind and deaf 13 year old dachshund, was around the back of my cabin. When I caught up with her, she had feathers all over her mouth. She'd found a dead bird and made herself a meal. She was so happy.

It's all natural, it's the life we live. We take it or we leave it. So I’ve cut out the coffee, and have done some fasting. Will I flower? We’ll see. We have one life each. Live yours the way you want. Don't let others voices drown yours out. Above all, be happy with your choices.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Placebo Therapy

It's always fascinated me, the way people can take pills and assume they're going to do some good. What happens in the mind, that we trust someone to help us, and not do harm? Part of that answer may lie in the person taking the pills. If you're an optimist, I'll bet you're more likely to think your fellow man has your best interest at heart. If you're a pessimist, you may be suspicious, but depending on your age, you may put that thought aside. I've noticed people over about 70 or 75 tend, generally, to believe everything an MD tells them, and not question their instructions.

Once, my father-in-law, when offered juice, said he couldn't drink OJ. I asked about grapefruit, since I was about to squeeze some fresh. He said his doctor hadn't mentioned grapefruit. Of course, knowing there are meds that have been shown to be less effective with grapefruit, this had me wondering. When I asked him why his doctor told him no OJ, he said (rather curtly) 'I don't know, he just said not to drink OJ.' Acid? Sugar? I couldn't quite figure out the reason for the dietary restriction. As he got more annoyed with me, I asked, 'What about tomato?' He just about fell off his chair, 'I don't know, he didn't SAY tomato, he just said ORANGE juice!!'  The trust was there, no need to ask why. Giving up the responsibility for your health to the doctor was the mantra of his era. Now, I think the public has become a little more wary. We've seen our trust eroded by the machinations of the pharmaceutical industry time and again. This has encouraged us to learn more about our health.

But now more information has come out about placebos. PLoS One researchers gave patients pills and TOLD them there were no active ingredients. They also told them these sugar pills might help their IBS. The pills reduced symptoms and improved quality of life! What happened here? The researcher, at Harvard Medical School, said, "We told participants they didn't have to believe in the placebo effect at all - but they had to take two pills a day." How do we tease out the many psychological influences here, not the least of which is the worse it tastes, the more painful the procedure, the more expensive it is, the more 'effective' it is deemed to be.

The interesting thing here, is that the control group also improved. Part of it may be the therapeutic relationship, which we've always recognized in homeopathy. Telling the story is the start of healing oneself.