No one is standing in your way on the path to healing
Featured on Medium.
Some time ago, I had the honor of speaking at the 30th Annual California Women’s Conference held in Long Beach, CA. This is a transcript of my speech.
I took that opportunity to address the attendees about how they could take more conscious control of their health and lives by creating a context based on honoring the self in 10 key ways.
I call this method “IT’S ALLOWED” because we don’t need to seek anyone’s permission or have to wait for a doctor’s advice to start a healing journey.
That journey begins by filling our souls up to overflowing. When we are fed spiritually, that healing energy spills over into every other part of our lives — including our health — creating changes that can only be described as miraculous.
Discovering the Common Denominator
For every one man, 10 women will be diagnosed with some type of autoimmune disease.
When we look at autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, in which the body starts producing antibodies and begins attacking or eating up the thyroid tissue: vitiligo, in which the body produces antibodies against the pigment in the skin; alopecia, which creates extreme hair loss; or perhaps multiple sclerosis, in which self-generated antibodies attack the myelin sheath that protects the nerves, research shows that these diseases have connections to some types of infertility and various cancers.
As a family doctor, I’ve been exploring why autoimmune diseases have such a predilection for women over men and why this disparity has been going on for decades.
No one has been looking into it, and I wish I could tell you why.
I wish I could tell you that the answer came to me in a dream or that it was provided by a prestigious, double-blind study, but that isn’t what occurred.
What occurred was a realization I had while I was observing my little girl. At the time, she was 3 ½ and had a little bit of eczema on her forearm. As a result, she was fixated on wearing only long sleeves and did not want to play with other girls.
I observed that while she was still a toddler, she was already constructing an internal world in which she felt she was less than others or not good enough in certain respects.
My wife Sherry, who is a pediatric orthodontist and dentist, as well as the brains in our family, and I sat down and came up with an idea.
We took some long socks that Hanna loved, cut the ends off and turned them into sleeves she could wear.
She was so excited. The new colorful sleeves brought her confidence back, and she was able to get back outside and play with other little girls. At that point, I started working with my colleague, Dr. Robert Gross, who is Harvard trained with a PhD from Tufts University. We asked ourselves whether the sort of self-rejection my daughter had experienced could be the common denominator in all the autoimmune diseases that affect women.
As our autoimmune patients came in, we began getting more detailed histories from them. We paid more attention to their biographies, and paid particular attention to how they felt about themselves. Instead of immediately putting them on a protocol of strong chemotherapeutic agents, high doses of steroids and other medications, we started prescribing them more non-traditional therapies.
“So many of us believe that the body, what we see, is all there is to us. The idea that there is a different world inside ourselves than the one we experience outside is foreign to most people.”
The acronym we developed for the treatment we created is IT’S ALLOWED.
The “I” stands for Imperfections. I’ve been privileged to work with some of the most brilliant and talented women in the world, but regardless of their level of success, it always becomes clear as we talk more about their lives that they have big and small ways of habitually criticizing or attacking themselves.
The mental context in which they live on a daily basis is one where they are the villain who must be attacked for not being enough—on pretty much every level.
Their sin is that they’re not perfect, whatever that means to them.
By way of contrast, certain American Indian tribes have a tradition that when weaving cloth for clothing and such, they leave an imperfection somewhere in their work—because that’s where they believe the spirit of life enters and exits. It is like a window into the next dimension.
That was a profound discovery for us.
We wondered how effective it might be to create that kind of context within a healing protocol.
Could we find a way for these women, who were constantly attacking themselves emotionally, to release their self-directed negative energy outwardly instead of aiming it inwardly where it caused their bodies to attack themselves?
How would we even monitor such a program with physiological markers that we could use with every patient?
Once we set the program up, we took a baseline blood draw on each patient and then monitored their blood markers in a new sample taken every 12 weeks.
The results we saw were astounding and have been shared in detail in my book, The Clarity Cleanse.
The “I” of the process represents a way of holding or viewing one’s personal imperfections to help the patient go deeper and create an internal world conducive to healing.
So many of us believe that the body, what we see, is all there is to us. The idea that there is a different world inside ourselves than the one we experience outside is foreign to most people. So we started prescribing things like meditation and dream incubations, which is a visualization process of reflecting on the day before falling asleep.
“Tensegrity” & Intimacy
IT’S ALLOWED. The “T” stands for the level of Tension that has developed within oneself. We all have tension within us that starts from the time we wake up and continues to develop, but we look at it as a bad thing. We don’t know how to move it around and allow it to sublimate into what we refer to as “tensegrity,” which is a level of tension that actually creates a deeper integrity within ourselves.
IT’S ALLOWED. The “S” was the most enjoyable part of creating this program. It stands for Sensuality and Sexuality.
We started asking questions, and found out that some of the women with autoimmune diseases hadn’t been sexually active for decades. The last thing they wanted to hear was another doctor telling them that even though they were juggling their jobs, kids, and everything else, sex was still important. They really didn’t want to hear it.
To stress the importance of making time for sex, we provided them with a large collection of studies from the National Institutes of Health and other respected institutions.
One study that looked at women with breast cancer showed that the number of women having the least amount of sex and the fewest orgasms had the highest rates of breast cancer.
Women with the physical terrain that supported autoimmunity had the lowest levels of two of the most important hormones: oxytocin and relaxin, both of which are released during sex.
More sex. Can you imagine walking out of a doctor’s office with that kind of prescription in your hand?
To have that kind of conversation with someone requires a different kind of narrative.
It requires a heart-centeredness that allows you to invest in another human being, rather than just giving them the standard treatment. It’s so easy to write out a prescription for a steroid and have the patient take it as directed. That’s symptom management.
To create healing, we have to establish a different context between doctor and patient.
It requires inspiring, through compassion, a special kind of confidence in the patient, so she feels safe enough to share why she hasn’t had sex in over a decade. It’s important for her to be able to share what’s occurring for her — not just physically but emotionally — that might be impacting her health.
“What would it be like if we truly accepted ourselves the way we are? What would it be like if we were comfortable with ourselves?”
What is the context of her current relationship?
What are the challenges?
What are the misunderstandings or misinterpretations?
What is the wall that she keeps running into that’s taking her opportunity for intimacy away?
It is this kind of personal conversation that encourages the body-mind connection. This was a conversation that wasn’t happening with these women at their previous doctors’ offices.
IT’S ALLOWED. The “A” represents Acceptance.
We hear it all the time, but what is it that needs to be accepted? It’s so easy to cover up imperfections with cosmetics, hair color, and so on. I would certainly look prettier if I took care of my receding hairline and a few other things, but what would it be like if we truly accepted ourselves the way we are? What would it be like if we were comfortable with ourselves?
That’s the type of conversation Dr. Gross and I were having with these women.
Some of these women desperately wanted to be a size 2 because that was their idea of beauty.
Imagine being born a pine tree but preferring to be an oak.
You would create a continuous battle within yourself because of a lack of self-acceptance. My partner and I believe that consciousness precedes phenotypic expression, an idea that informed the creation of our protocol.
Your consistent thought processes give birth to a physiological shift that ultimately ends up producing antibodies that support some variety of autoimmune disease. And the amount of energy that must be sustained over months or even years to produce physical antibodies is significant.
This is about creating proteins. If you want to develop the next cell phone or electronic gadget, how much time goes into that creative process? To produce a sophisticated protein that shifts and changes requires a significant level of consciousness, and that’s the body-mind terrain that no one was talking about.
See yourself walking out of the doctor’s office with a prescription for acceptance. It’s these kinds of advanced body-mind exercises that women can do on a daily basis to cultivate within their consciousness what it means to be more accepting.
Love & Letting Go
IT’S ALLOWED. The first “L” stands for Loving.
I wear Love Buttons all the time. Love is one of the most important things to me, because self-love saved my life.
However, I’m talking about a specific kind of self-love. I’m not talking about going to Tahiti for 10 days.
I’m talking about being gentle with oneself in a way that registers in the consciousness.
It’s a deeper gentleness than the way you normally treat yourself. Can you see yourself walking out of your doctor’s office with a prescription for self-love? Can you imagine what it would mean to cultivate a love like that?
The other “L” represents Letting Go as a spiritual practice.
I tell certain patients that their condition might be connected to wanting certain things to be perfect or a specific way, and when they feel the energy of resistance to their present situation, to work on letting that negative energy go. I give them breath work to do, and then monitor their blood markers. Just by learning to release negative energy in this way, the results were astounding.
People would come in with a devastating physiological terrain, and we’d follow their body looking at biological markers, and see a clear shift happen in the results.
Outside the Illusion
The “O” stands for getting Outside, literally, certainly, but more importantly, outside one’s mind.
It’s incredible to be sitting across from a 16-year-old who keeps cutting herself because she feels like she isn’t good enough, pretty enough; you name it. We wanted to create a context where women could get out into the world to begin a conversation with themselves and discover what a miracle they are.
I have asked patients if they even realized that the molecule at the very back of the eyes, retinol, is half of the beta-carotene they see in carrots. That’s why they say carrots are good for our eyesight. When we look at the molecule of beta-carotene, it’s literally on half of the retinol in the back of the eyes. It’s a total mystery.
Isn’t that amazing?
“It requires a different kind of conversation to pay attention to the consciousness that precedes a physiological disturbance.”
So when they create this context, they get excited. They realize what a miracle they are. They’re part of this cosmic conversation, this ontological experience called life.
It’s so easy to write a prescription for methotrexate. Don’t get me wrong. I have a prescription pad, and when it’s needed, I use it. However, it requires a different kind of conversation to pay attention to the consciousness that precedes a physiological disturbance.
Wholeness as Healing
IT’S ALLOWED. The “W” is one of my favorites because it stands for Wholeness. It stands for the “we.”
I remember when I was in medical school, one of my anatomy partners told me that when she went to college, her grandmother took every piece of clothing she had worn since she was born and sewed them into a quilt for her.
Just the thought of that brought tears to my eyes.
Can you see that? Can you see that at one point there was a remedy that can bring people together? This student and her grandmother would quilt together. During the process, they would talk and share. They would process their emotions of the day, including their hurt feelings and disturbances. It was as if they were digesting the experiences that were occurring for them.
While they created a physical quilt, they would use the fragments of their emotions to knit together a blanket that would bring so much warmth to the whole family. Unfortunately, we’ve lost this kind of fellowship today, but each one of us is the gateway to a new possibility.
IT’S ALLOWED. “E” is for the Enjoyment factor. We asked patients what they enjoyed doing.
It didn’t matter whether it was dancing, hiking or something else. Whatever it was, they hadn’t done it in years. When they started walking, biking, getting a pet or doing anything they loved on a daily basis, it was amazing what it did for them and their bodies.
IT’S ALLOWED. Last but not least, the “D” stands for Divinity. We invited patients to find a place or thing they could connect with on a higher level.
We look not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are unseen. However, the things that are seen are temporal, and the things that are unseen are eternal.
Our worldly belongings and even our bodies are temporal objects. So we introduced them to and helped them engage with these essential qualities that impact life, and yet can’t be seen, such as integrity. We defined what integrity is for us and what it means to have wholeness within what we say.
We defined what it means to be authentic, honest, and truthful. These are qualities you can’t get at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. You can’t read it in any book. I don’t care if the book is endorsed by Oprah.
You can’t go to a self-improvement seminar and load up on a whole lot of authenticity. It won’t do you any good because it needs to be cultivated.
Honoring the Self
Women came into my office who were dealing with some of the most horrific physiological experiences.
One of the most important things we did was to create a context for them, at the end of which, they got filled up.
I remember when I was a chemistry professor, one of my favorite experiments was to stand in front of the students with two pairs of tongs, a paper cup in each one.
I’d hold the two cups over separate Bunsen burners. While one cup was empty, the other was half-filled with water. The empty cup always caught fire quickly and was consumed in a flash. The other cup didn’t burn at all, and as long as I kept filling it up to replace the water that had evaporated, it would never burn even though it was made of paper.
It’s my intention to invite all who need healing, regardless of their disease, to come together to find out how they can fill themselves up in a way that cultivates a deeper level of self-honoring.
When we get filled up, we can take a stand for others, and doing so will be a different experience for everyone. My invitation for anyone who needs healing is to examine what it will take to fill themselves up and to move forward in life from that place of fullness.
Because it’s allowed.
For more health and inspirational insights from Dr. Sadeghi, please visit Behiveofhealing.com to sign up for the monthly newsletter, check out his annual health and well-being journal, MegaZEN, or for messages of encouragement and humor, follow him on Instagram and Twitter @drhabibsadeghi
Dr. Habib Sadeghi is the co-founder of Be Hive of Healing, an integrative health center based in Los Angeles. He provides revolutionary healing protocols in integrative, osteopathic, anthroposophical, environmental, and family medicine, as well as clinical pharmacology. He served as an attending Physician and Clinical Facilitator at UCLA-SM Medical Center and is currently a Clinical Instructor of Family Medicine at Western University of Health Sciences. Dr. Sadeghi is a regular contributor to Goop, CNN, BBC News and TEDx. He is the author of Within: A Spiritual Awakening to Love & Weight Loss, as well as the foreword to Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good, and is the publisher of the health and well-being journal, MegaZEN.