February 20, 2017

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CURANDERISMO: BEING MEDICINE

CURANDERISMO: BEING MEDICINE

Intersecting EM Vibrations | Image Source: Zainab Amadahy

Curanderismo is the art of healing. While I am currently researching and practicing curanderismo from the southwest of the US and Mexico, I carry my own teachings, research and ideas about wellness into my studies. “Being Medicine” is a notion I have been developing for some time and is the focus of this post.

At one level, the way you can be a medicine to others is fairly obvious: kindness, compassion, helping, gifting, sharing — these all promote healing and provide various benefits. We can also pray, sing and otherwise support each other. Here we will explore the mechanisms of how we can influence each other’s healing and “be medicine”.

First you must understand that your thoughts and feelings have measurable PHYSICAL impacts on others. Many of the scientific findings I’m going to draw on here are based on the work of the Institute of HeartMath, the Institute of Noetic Science and the Good Science Centre.

Mainstream science has now figured out what our medicine people have known for millennia: that our mind, body and emotions are inter-connected. Your every thought and feeling are in relationship with your body’s biochemistry, organ function and brain activity. This can be seen and measured in the lab. Feelings of grief, fear, anger, sadness, loneliness, shame, guilt and others produce what is called the “stress reaction”. The stress reaction is characterized by high levels of cortisol and adrenaline in the bloodstream, activity in the brain’s fear centre (amygdala), high blood pressure, speedy heartbeat, rapid breathing and more. We need stress to help us deal with situations that pose a threat to our wellbeing. The problem comes when we get stuck in a state of stress because we live in an environment that threatens our wellbeing regularly — or we dwell on the threats even when they’re not present.

Chronic stress may lead to health problems | Image Source: Zainab Amadahy
Chronic Stress May Lead To Health Problems | Image Source: Zainab Amadahy

There are people who live in dangerous and life-threatening situations. Those children in residential schools lived for years in a state of chronic (ongoing) stress. It’s the same for folks who are living in situations of family violence or in war zones or who can’t afford enough healthy food or have no home or suffer abusive bosses or are imprisoned or face microaggressions every day or … whatever. There are many situations that will create chronic stress. And chronic stress can cause many illnesses: stroke, heart disease, hypertension, cancer, autoimmune disease, depression, chronic fatigue, adrenal exhaustion and much, much more.

Furthermore, stress can be contagious. Have you ever been in a situation where someone who was worried, angry or sad influenced how you felt? Part of the reason is that your body is in constant conversation with others around you. Your body reacts to the thoughts and feelings of others, even when you’re not aware of it and this can now be detected and measured with medical technology.

One of the ways we share information is through electro-magnetism. All life forms give off an electro-magnetic (EM) field. The vibration of your field changes in response to your feelings. While your feelings can change from moment to moment, being stuck in a stressful state not only impacts how YOUR body functions but radiates out into the world through your EM field affecting those around you.

When your sad, angry or anxious your EM field interacts with someone else’s, information is exchanged. Sometimes that other person will “catch” your feelings. Their EM field will change to match yours and before you know it they will have all the symptoms of stress that you do — along with all the unhealthy body changes.

Fortunately, exactly the same thing happens when you are experiencing pro-social or pleasant feelings like love, kindness, compassion, optimism and joy. Your biochemistry will increase your pleasant feelings. Your brain will unleash your higher thinking, problem solving and creativity abilities. Your EM field will promote wellness for others, such as heightened immunity and accelerated healing. Through a mere smile you can actually improve the health of another person — however fleeting. You can be a medicine!

Pleasant feelings will release higher thinking, problem solving and creative abilities | Image source: Zainab Amadahy
Pleasant Feelings Will Release Higher Thinking, Problem Solving And Creative Abilities | Image Source: Zainab Amadahy

And there are bonuses. The more you can be a medicine the more your body benefits and literally reshapes itself so that it becomes easier to radiate healing for a longer period of time. Moreover, being grounded in more pro-social states based on your internal temperament, rather than reacting to something external, makes it LESS likely you’ll be influenced by another and MORE likely you’ll be doing the influencing. That internal/external thing is important. For example, if your feelings are dependent on or reacting to weather, someone’s behaviour or a social event, it’s temporary. You will lose that feeling (good or bad) when the situation changes. But being grounded, rooted and in touch with your own spirit grows a strong internal temperament that doesn’t generally bounce around reacting to external events.

Furthermore, a group of people cultivating the same feelings together will create a collective EM field that strengthens what is radiating out into the world. This means that ceremonies where folks gather to offer thanks, pray for peace or give comfort in times of need are actually multiplying the impact of their intentions exponentially. Unfortunately the same is true when people gather to promote hatred, fear or greed.

When groups of people cultivate positive energy together they radiate that out into the world. | Image source : Zainab Amadahy
When Groups Of People Cultivate Positive Energy Together They Radiate That Out Into The World. | Image Source: Zainab Amadahy

This science, however, does NOT mean that you should deny, ignore or repress stressful feelings. Doing that causes more stress. All feelings have a role to play in your wellness. You would have reason for concern if some of the events in your life did not provoke fear, anger, sadness or grief. In our world such emotions are often appropriate and useful responses. Our ancestors knew this, which is why the various healing ceremonies and practices we have in our communities help process unpleasant emotions and, if necessary, help us get unstuck. In fact, the evidence is growing that our culturally based practices can often be more effective with fewer side effects than solutions to stress found in the colonial health care system.

Also, mastering emotions is hardly possible when you or loved ones are facing threats to wellness. Anyone who is in an abusive situation, has a sick child, is malnourished, homeless, unemployed or living in danger cannot simply manage and transform their stress by refocusing their attention onto something pleasant. The solutions to stress in cases like these are found in changing the stressful environment; addressing inequities in our economic, political and social system; healing the Earth and Our Relations; and making changes in how we live our lives. Our various decolonizing activities will reduce significant levels of stress in our communities.

However, it’s important to recognize that there are times you might feel stress even though you’re not being threatened in the moment. It might be a memory or anticipation of something in the future; it might be a film or song; it might be a genetic memory that causes stress. In cases like this, there are ways of processing and transforming your feelings so you and others benefit from the wellness they offer. Recalling what happened to relatives in residential schools or pondering what will happen if resource extraction continues at the current rate can anger, frustrate AND motivate you to take action. However, states of anger, frustration and fear are not great for planning action because your higher thinking capacities, creativity and problem solving abilities are impaired. Those parts of your brain don’t get adequate blood, oxygen and nutrients.

But we have tools to address that. A simple smudge ceremony, a Thanksgiving Address or offering tobacco to a nearby tree, if you’re sincerely feeling it, are examples of ways to calm down, get grounded and activate those parts of your mind and heart that are going to be most useful for planning action. According to HeartMath a mere 5 minutes of focusing your heart on love, care, kindness, compassion, connection, gratitude, hope, pleasant memories and even connection will buy you 5 hours of healthful biochemistry and expansive thinking.

Mainstream science may have a story about how we can become medicines to each other but our spiritual and cultural knowledges have offered us effective practices for generations. Indigenization will help us recover and share these old wellness ways in our communities.

Until my next post on Soul Loss, may you radiate wellness.

Recent Posts:

Curanderismo: The Art of Healing and Wellness
Curanderismo: Mexica Origins and The Art of Healing

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About The Author

Zainab Amadahy

Zainab Amadahy is an author, screenwriter, community organizer and educator of African American, Cherokee and European heritage.  Among her publications are the science fiction novels Resistance and Moons of Palmares. Her publication, Wielding the Force: The Science of Social Justice, explores emerging science and its relevance to social justice, activism and community organizing.  For more information about Zainab’s work: www.swallowsongs.com.

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