My Journey process into healing, my stroke of insight
I’ve been practising holistic medicine with enthusiasm and a true sense of fulfilling my true calling as healer for 27 years, when 2021 happened to me and quite unfairly, as I thought at first!
Here is my story of healing, my own challenge and an ongoing process of learning and teaching from my heart to yours, the importance of mind training as the true healing cure.
It started with retinopathy diagnosed early in 2021, then a stroke in July 2021, with Covid contracted while in hospital.
The obvious cause was classic metabolic syndrome, with fluctuations in blood glucose levels and blood pressure for many years, abdominal weight gain and high LDL-cholesterol.
Most important though, were the mental-emotional constant stress triggers of poor self-esteem, uncertainty about my life path, feeling I had to prove myself constantly in this world, the difficulty of meeting financial obligations, while following a natural medicine path, dithering between material and spiritual, thinking the two were mutually exclusive, etc. All boiling down to power centre (previously known as chakra 3) deficiency and imbalance, involving the pancreas, liver and blood pressure circulatory metabolism, as well as the adrenal glands, with insulin-cortisol unbalance, leading to overwhelming inflammation. Striving to fix and control everything from an ego wilfulness made physical breakdown inevitable!
However, even before lockdown started, the blood pressure, blood glucose and weight challenges had normalised. The damage was obviously done earlier!
Regardless of the severe symptoms experienced, I chose to not remain in the overwhelming despondency I plunged into right after the stroke, but truly started on a healing journey, from body, mind, emotions and a deeply spiritual soul level, dealing with anger, a sense of being punished, frustration and wanting to give up or, as I called it, having many duvet days!
But deep inside, there was a voice, constantly calling to me to get up, to try and try again.
I chose to listen to that voice, as I called her, The Priestess or wise woman healer-teacher archetype, inside me, in the depths of my soul, my true beingness. To hear her call of wisdom to follow this road that will also help many others – my true calling!
Here in short, are my steps into healing, – crystallising thought and offering catalysts to help others in their journey on the path of wellbeing.
Awareness, acceptance and willingness to change. Obstacle: intense fear and regret – it could have kept me stuck if I remained in that state. I chose differently! Not an easy choice; sometimes it is easier to crouch down and take cover. From the depths of despair, I heeded the whisper from deep within my soul. Get up! You can do this! One step is all it takes for now. Mind training was the key to move out of my low frequency subconscious states of old behaviour and beliefs, to allow superconscious mind to guide, teach and love me exactly as I am. It takes courage to face the beasts and realise they are only clouds, thick and dark and dense at times, but nevertheless clouds! I could move through them if I released fear and moved into the light within. The light that is there within us all.
We can all reprogram, rewire our minds to believe and know it’s there: The good, the beautiful and the true.
I had another healing spiritual crisis during September 2021. I knew it wasn’t another stroke. I had a priestess inner visualisation, my previous painting of my own inner wise woman. It felt more like an ‘in life experience’, rather than a near death (NDE) one, a cathartic opportunity to let go of old expectations, old dreams and regrets, old wanting ‘things to be different’.
I experienced the depths of despair, wanting to let go, simply to give up, that it’s ok to finish with this body and move into the next dimension, like my dirge of sorrow.
Then a voice called to me from deep inside, clearly saying that I have to go on, to teach/help others.
The following is the ‘going-on’ journey.
Neuroplasticy practice helped me right from the start! It is the brain’s ability, but also all cells, to release old survival cell memories and ALLOW cells to work optimally and anew!
Encouraging the building of cross networks.
While recovering in SpesCare, I danced with the caregivers using my crutch. Shuffling was easier for me to remember the right knee, relearning to bend the right way after the stroke – learning to reprogram and not hyperextend – the proprioception sense recovery.
I do love dancing and making dance movements helped me remember to be aware of my knee. The caregivers soon joined my dance and called me The Dancing Doctor, a handle I chose to keep, as teaching others to dance even while lying in bed, or sitting in a wheelchair, or hanging onto a crutch, will lift the spirits. Crossover movements will encourage neuroplastic (refer my article in a previous issue of Odyssey) renewal of brain and body cells, rewiring neuro-networks, in the remarkable ability human brain and body cells, have, even extending into consciousness. We have to practise it though!
There were many days of overwhelm. Try again! CHOOSE AGAIN, even second to second!
I knew in the core of my being, PEACE and LOVE are who I AM. Love being the greatest feeling to allow neuroplastic renewal!
‘The moment you change your perception, is the moment you rewrite the chemistry of your body!’ – Bruce Lipton
WE CAN! Rewire even our DNA to activate dormant strands of potential. Our DNA ‘listens’ to our thinking and feelings all the time! This is epigenetics! The best commands to give our cells are those of love, of course! Combine this with feelings of peace, tranquillity, quietness and gentleness, for all our cells to ‘feel’ happy, joyful and healed, optimally functioning. We choose from moment to moment and, if we send it to others, we feel it inside our very own cells. This is multidimensional living for the highest good of all.
TRUST! So important on a journey of healing.
Attune to wonder at simple things like the live breakfast buffet in front of my window, a real-life TV show of guinea fowl, francolins and Egyptian geese. BUT: I had taken action to put out seeds!|
Hair curlers are such a simple, mundane thing! But rolling Velcro rollers into my hair, even while in hospital, helped me to practise fine hand movements to increase dexterity, an excellent way to encourage neuroplasticity! Rewiring my networks to remember and use muscle memory right from the start of my healing process. Even the silliness of it made me chuckle! Laughter, especially smiling at yourself, is excellent medicine.
I danced! Feeling good! Rewire, balance, exuberance. Dance as if your feet are kissing the earth – lightly, joyfully, with love.
I gave myself instructions:
MIND TRAINING – procedural memory research proves it. Visualise steps to what my goal is, it encourages healing:
REHEARSING – what I want, using affirmations, like WHY are my eyes healing so well? Feel it. Believe it! As I did with healing after the stroke! And it worked.
MOVE INTO MY CENTRE OF PEACE– the place where I’m most at peace, i.e. Kleinbrak, a day bed in front of the window facing the sea; then think of a Spiritual Master or Presence (Jesus, Buddha, Mother Mary, Quan Yin, Angels). How does it feel to be with Him/Her/It? Visualise the peace, love, safety, protection.
EVOKE THE HIGHER POWER through the superconscious mind. Visualise the golden grid of grace, sending out waves of love from my heart to all around.
GRATITUDE FOR THE GIFT OF BLESSINGS – I’m still here to share my experience to help others have hope, love surrounding me.
BE AWARE OF MY THOUGHTS – Avoid pity party FEAR – OFTEN EXPRESSED AS SADNESS, EVEN GRIEF at what was, missed opportunities and so on. Rather than lamenting ‘why me’, ‘why did this have to happen’, anger, frustration, despondency, often expressed as grief, allow the feelings in order to release and change to healing vibrations with above steps, in mind’s eye. Visualise my core of peace. Sit in lotus position and imagine waves of love and support – rewiring! Train thoughts/brain to feel the joyous presence of Spirit. I journal every day to lift and focus on high frequencies of the love that I am. Journaling is a sure way to help me get out of a funk. And also, sometimes allowing a despondency, even a cold, as a cathartic way of releasing old cell memories, still lingering in my subconscious mind and thus in my body.
I AM strong, I am determined to see things differently remembering to laugh, even chuckle to myself, have some fun.
ACCEPT, ALLOW then move to light and peace, always available at my centre regardless of what’s going on in the dark clouds around them – simply move through, even for a moment of relief.
BE AWARE of holding ‘neurorigidity’ patterns of survival fear and old, harming beliefs deeply ingrained in us, to allow the neuroplasticity of hope, to be who we truly are – love and magnificent co-creators of heaven on earth, to become our new default mode.
CHALLENGE yourself – self compassion, no criticism: I’m busy with a psychotherapy course, based on A Course in Miracles and Lisa Natoli’s Healing Cure at the moment. I am also actively practising my love of writing and art. I’m learning new ways to practise this love differently. Rather than packing away all my art materials like I did, I uncovered them and selected the tools differently. Not throwing it all out in obstinate, frustrated anger, but to start elsewhere. I made a wreath a few months ago, using fynbos, wiring and spray paint to make it. Then from this brave-hearted step, I am now practising to do the illustrations for my ‘new children’s book of love’.
It’s about the courage to try and to celebrate the progress, even the little steps!
Revisiting holistic medicine
In preparing for a recent talk I gave on holistic medicine, I decided to revisit my old concept of holism and apply it to my own healing journey! Especially my calling to teach about the healing of the mind, where the healing of the body actually starts.
Holism is well known in medicine as applied to wellness, as integrating mind, body, soul, environment and social interaction. As philosophy, it is the theory that parts of a whole are in intimate interconnection, such that they cannot exist independently of each other, or cannot be understood without reference to the whole, or, as Einstein said: ‘the whole is more than the sum of its parts’. Holism is often applied to mental states, language and ecology.
The term holism comes from the Greek word ‘holos’, meaning whole. The term ‘holism’ was coined by statesman, naturalist and scholar, Jan Smuts in his 1926 book ‘Holism and Evolution.’ Smuts defined holism as the ‘fundamental factor operative towards the creation of wholeness in the universe’. To Smuts, a whole was regarded as an entity, from a group of galaxies to the behaviour of electrons around an atom.
I follow a totally holistic paradigm where spiritual, or higher mind/superconscious mind manifests into the physical plane from the macrocosm of the Universe, to the microcosm of quarks, back and forth in a spiral dance of DNA, up and down in ever spiralling string twirls from the highest chakras.
Back to basics
~ I have – and still do – follow a healthy, anti-inflammatory eating plan and take basic natural food supplements.
~ I dance. I stretch. I walk in nature, grounding and using all my senses. I do specific eye exercises like the lazy 8, to improve the neuroplasticity of my eye muscles and blood supply to my retina and optic nerves.
~ I meditate and do spiritual practice every day with the help of my trusty journal.
~ I am writing and illustrating my children’s book on love, right now! My HeartSong gift to kids and the child in every adult – this is giving my life so much meaning, as is being The Dancing Doctor, teaching all who are willing to express their inner dancer, to dance!
~ I know-believe in my Higher Power within, around and in me, extending out to others around me. My experiences have set me on an accelerated path of spiritual awakening as the light and love that I am. I learnt to trust again! I have reached the stage where I’m welcoming and grateful for this journey I’m on.
~ I learnt about reconnecting myself to mySelf at the healing centre where miracles happen – right inside of me and everyone.
~ I’ve been inspired by my inner wise woman teacher-healer to develop a holistic energy healing modality that includes light touch therapy, endocrine gland/chakra balancing and deep relaxation training.
I am the butterfly, living and flying now, after a mushy chrysalis year of developing into who I’m meant to be! Dr Arien
And, as A Course in Miracles says and I feel: “There is a place in you where there is perfect peace. There is a place in you where nothing is impossible. There is a place in you where the strength of God abides”
Dr Arien van der Merwe
Medical doctor, author & holistic health counsellor
Dr Arien van der Merwe is a medical doctor, author and holistic health counsellor. She developed and presents continued professional development training through VideoLearn and Synergetica CPD Courses on Mental Health in Challenging Uncertain Times; Heart Health; Inflammation both Friend and Foe and Neuroplasticity.
Dr Arien teaches group and individual meditation and relaxation classes, as well as health coaching online (WhatsApp video consultations) and at her rooms in Pretoria. More info: https://www.DrArien.co.za