Both Eastern and Western healing traditions have long known that strengthening vitality is the basis for improving health and recovering from illness or injury. Early American herbal systems such as the Eclectic tradition understood this concept as central to healing. In my 25 years of clinical practice, I’ve found that enhancing vitality, although often ignored in modern medicine, is essential for health. As such, the Eclectic model has provided me with a wealth of information that informs my healing practice today.
As their name implies, the Eclectics encouraged exploration of every system of medicine, regardless of its origins, to discover and apply the most useful principles for the wellbeing of humanity. The basic principles of Eclectic medicine can be distilled to these simple precepts:
- Nature is the great physician who, if permitted and not interfered with, provides for our physical requirements.
- Disease (dis-ease) of whatever nature is caused by a lack of equilibrium (an imbalance), the result of an abnormal condition in the body, or the result of congestion due to poor elimination.
- These conditions of dis-ease can be truly cured only by the use of plants or other agents that conform to the laws of life and assist the powers of nature.
- A physician is spiritually inclined; he or she loves and lives for their profession. Their feelings are always for those who suffer and their intention is to bring as much relief to the ill as may be in their power.
Many people naively view the spiritual journey as a means to euphoria, a type of drug-like high, and a magic carpet ride to bliss. However, this is not a realistic expectation. The spiritual journey involves the purification of the unconscious; therefore it is an exercise in letting go of the false self, the programmed self, and the self who is climbing the ladder to false happiness. The spiritual journey is a humbling process, because it requires letting go of the self that we know and identify with. When we step onto the spiritual path, we are called to change how we respond to life circumstances and how we choose to be in every aspect of our lives.
The distractions of life are powerful, and it’s all too easy to be consumed by the tasks, responsibilities, and desires that arise, causing us to stray from our spiritual center. When we embark on a spiritual journey, we need guidance and support to help us stay on course. Contemplative prayer is a simple, accessible means to cultivate the discipline that the spiritual journey requires.
Continue reading “The Spiritual Journey”
One of my favorite musicians is the great jazz saxophonist John Coltrane. It’s not only his consummate skill as a musician that inspires me, but the way that he finds and expresses God through his music.
One evening, as Coltrane performed one of his most well known pieces—“A Love Supreme”, he ascended to new heights of superb musicianship. Everything came together in a transformative experience for Coltrane, and he communicated this transcendent experience to the audience through his saxophone. As he left the stage, his drummer heard him softly say, “Luke 2:22-29.” Coltrane recognized that he had touched heaven, and that he was doing what he was meant to do in this earthly existence.
Continue reading “Finding God In Music”