I’ve been reading about the placebo effect. This is the body or the mind's capacity to heal through believing a treatment is real even when it is non-active. Treatments can be as simple as sugar pills and be as extreme as fake surgeries. The placebo effect is a mystery for science. The therapeutic results involve complex neurobiological reactions that science can’t explain. It also involves more than just the treatment being offered.
Professor Ted Kaptchuk of Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, whose research focuses on the placebo effect says "The placebo effect is a way for your brain to tell the body what it needs to feel better." But according to Kaptchuk placebos are not all about releasing brainpower. You also need the ritual of treatment. The caregiver, the environment, and the ritual of treatment all factor into how the body responds. The power of belief can also be inspired by being connected with others who experience miraculous healings and transformations. This opens the mind to what might be possible for us.
What struck me as I was reading this was that even within the experience of the placebo effect where the body and mind can miraculously heal itself, it still looks like the power of healing needs something outside of ourselves as a stimulus to shift the healing trajectory and take a new course toward health. This led me to think how pervasive and deeply ingrained it is conditioned within us to believe healing happens to us from the outside in. It seems we need the external stimulus to make ourselves whole. And working with this conditioning is powerful. Gurus, shamans, healers, medication, doctors, surgeries, and plant medicine all work with this conditioning and act as intermediaries to support healing within us.
I am not against intermediaries or medical intervention, but I wonder what happens when we truly realize we don’t need them. Just like there came a time in Christianity when it was understood that priests weren’t required to be the intermediaries to God. What happens when we realize we don’t need any outside intervention or intermediary to realize we are whole?
What happens when we realize we don’t need the teacher, the coach, the therapist, the yoga, the supplements, the ritual, the medicine, the meditation, the fill in the blank?
And what really works to help us to realize that healing and wisdom come from within.
It makes sense that given our vulnerabilities and need for others to survive as children we internalize a belief that our wellbeing requires others. When our physical, mental, and emotional needs aren’t met as children we suffer tremendously. But what does it mean for us as adults? When do we hit that turning point of recognition within ourselves of the incredible potential we each have within ourselves to recognize and experience our wholeness.
I know that breaking free from the conditioning that an intermediary is needed can be difficult. I have had many teachers and mentors over the years who I have learned a great deal from, and I continue to offer services to others as a mentor and guide. And I still participate in trainings and retreats facilitated by others as well as offering them myself. It is clear to me that my work is about pointing participants to who and what they are, but I realize I must even question the validity of pointing. Maybe even that is too much. Perhaps I need to be getting my career backup plan ready?
I remember when I was in graduate school for counseling psychology one of the professors mentioned a study done to determine what was the most effective style of therapy. What was concluded from the study was that the form of the therapy didn’t matter, it was the care of the practitioner that made a difference. What matters is the level of consciousness of the healer that is what has the impact. This is true for the placebo effect too. I listened to the Sounds True podcast with Lissa Rankin. She is a doctor who has written the book Sacred Medicine. In the interview, she mentioned that she was fired from doing pharmaceutical trials because her placebo results were too high. The people she was helping were getting better whether they were taking the pharmaceutical or not. This was messing with the pharmaceutical company's results so they fired her.
I don’t want to dismiss the power of the healing that gets co-created when we come together 1:1 and in groups. I witness it all the time. The impact of coregulation and the ability to connect deeply with our True Nature through the benefit of a loving space with others that settles the nervous system and consequently open the mind, the heart, and the field of perception. But I am inviting myself and everyone who reads this to recognize that fundamentally healing comes from within. The master teacher and healer is ourselves. That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the benefits of a guide along the way and being in a community along the journey, but the ultimate power for awakening, healing, and transformation lies within us. It is us. It is all of us. No one is exempt. We are all this one source and we access it from within.
Knowing this and having this awareness as a foundation puts everything in order. The priority then becomes to listen to our own wisdom and deeper knowing, to get in touch with the feeling of unconditional love that resides in our hearts, and to recognize that nothing gets in the way of that other than our misunderstandings. And our knowing is what reveals misunderstandings so we can release them. There is no need to wait or to seek. There is no ritual or person required to access this space. It is available to you now. No matter how you are feeling, love is who you are and everything flows from that one source.
Rohini Ross is co-founder of “The Rewilders.” Listen to her podcast, with her partner Angus Ross, Rewilding Love. They believe too many good relationships fall apart because couples give up thinking their relationship problems can’t be solved. In the first season of the Rewilding Love Podcast, Rohini and Angus help a couple on the brink of divorce due to conflict. Angus and Rohini also co-facilitate private couple's intensive retreat programs that rewild relationships back to their natural state of love. Rohini is also the author of the ebook Marriage, and she and Angus are co-founders of The 29-Day Rewilding Experience and The Rewilding Community. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To learn more about her work and subscribe to her blog visit: TheRewilders.org.