By Laurel Elders
I was fortunate enough to land a job "randomly" at a school for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TMC). I did not seek out this job. It somehow found me through a referral from a friend. That referral became an eight-year career shift into higher education and integrative medicine.
My life's work is embedded in Integrative Intelligence. We define Integrative Intelligence as the wisdom that develops from understanding interconnectivity.
TCM embraces this truth. Western medicine is allopathic and does not go there. Allopathy is the practice of treating a symptom by opposition. In other words, the symptom is stopped or hidden by the application of a drug or surgery designed to counter the symptom.
I learned that allopathic medicine is brilliant in emergencies or anything that needs immediate attention. Thank God for Western medicine in these circumstances! However, because of the linear focus on stopping a symptom from externalizing, it falls short of healing the cause of the symptom.
Those of you who know me well know I'm a natural-born skeptic. When I first started at the school, I believed that acupuncture couldn't be more than a placebo. But hey – if a placebo works, then by all means, bring it on!
Over those eight years, I was exposed to people healing themselves by "alternative" means, pathways to healing that defy logic, and integratively intelligent practitioners who saw the interconnected nature of physical health.
My awareness of cause and effect deepened.
I learned that Western medicine and thought have their place, but they are linear and naturally yield substantial limitations.
The body is designed to self-correct. We see this at the most basic level of getting a paper cut, a scab forms, and the skin repairs itself. It does all of this without our intervention.
The body is designed to issue warning signs of the two primary causes of injury or disease: constriction and imbalance. We experience aches or pains alerting us that something is off.
If your heart clogs from the combination of inflammation and cholesterol that constricts blood flow, the outcome is a heart attack. If you trip and twist your ankle, the ligaments experience Hyperextension or tear, which creates a significant imbalance, aka injury.
One day, I hurt my shoulder. After a week of suffering and not being able to do yoga or climb, I asked one of the Tuina bodywork experts at the school to take a look. He did a two-minute examination and said something to the effect of, "I can fix this. I can fix it quickly, and it will hurt. Or, I can be gentle and fix it over the next two weeks for you. What do you prefer?"
That was a response I was not accustomed to. I said, "Let's fix it quickly so I can return to normal life." He nodded his head. Over about a five-minute – very painful timespan - he twisted here, pulled there, placed a few acupuncture needles, and said, "Ok, you are all set. You will be sore for two days, that will dissipate, and you will be back to normal."
My recovery happened precisely as he outlined. I was sore for two days and then good to go, yoga handstands, rock climbing, chasing children around and all.
It turns out that the medicine with the ancient lineage, aware of the interconnected nature of the human body, has a solid capacity to heal ailments at the root.
Why is it so effective? How?? My inner skeptic had to know.
I joined a talk by a Tuina practitioner who apprenticed under a world-renowned master to learn more.
He shared that the roots of this medicine go back thousands of years. Back then, they didn't have emergency medicine. People in China worked in fields or on farms. If there was an injury and you didn't correct it immediately, you didn't eat. They culturally tapped into healing as a necessity for surviving and thriving.
During those eight years, I've had my own healing experiences. When I was 15, I was thrown from a truck that was going 80 MPR on the freeway from Tucson to Phoenix. The ER doctor told me that 99% of people who survive such a crash are paralyzed or permanently handicapped. I beat those odds, but in my twenties, I developed chronic back pain.
Based on the accident's severity, my primary care doctor delivered the bad news that I could expect to experience a bleak future, living with chronic back/neck pain and developing arthritis.
I then discovered yoga. I began to stretch and strengthen. Yoga corrects both constriction and imbalances. My pain completely disappeared, only to return if I missed a week of yoga. That is when I realized I played a crucial role in my health.
This example is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the human body's capacity to heal itself. I spoke to many people who cured cancer from nutrition and energy work. I talked to people who walked in with "incurable pain" and walked out with complete relief (no drugs were issued). I spoke to people who experienced emotional, spiritual, and psychological healing.
All first-hand experiences of everyday miracles that never made the news…. Why? There is no money in healing.
The articles provided here on Integrative Intelligence do not capture, nor claim to capture, the full breadth of human dynamics.
These articles offer only a glimpse into new possibilities when we become more integratively aware and develop our scope of wisdom.
There are many facets to a single prism. These are but a few facets to help inspire a deeper and broader exploration.