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Psychoneuroimmunology
The Art of Inner Ecology

A holistic healing modality that deals with our inner violence, unrest and negativity as a way of reversing both personal and ecological destruction
by Christine E. DeVai

Everyone's concern these days seems focused on the outer world – on environmental problems. There is plenty of dialogue and excitement around the outer manifestations of our environmental crisis. Daily, great effort is expended to stop this, clean up that, and prevent yet another disaster somewhere in our fragile universe.

This effort is special; the concern and resources directed toward healing these devastating violations against our sky, earth and water are real. The state of the environment is a genuine human dilemma of the 90s.  We all know it, although many of us prefer not to deal with it. We continue to self-destruct, impeded only by the sparse factual education that trickles down to penetrate our lives.  We recognize the danger we are in, and yet we continue to perpetuate it for one another.

The mind of the matter is what really has my attention: Retraining our thinking, committing to mental ecology, thinking constructive thoughts, taking responsibility for the impurities in our minds long before we crusade to stop the logging and clean up our rivers, save the whales and think about planting a garden.

This has focused, for me, in psychoneuroimmunology.  The aim of this healing art is to understand and explore the realization of how our inner violence, unrest and negativity contributes toward our outer catastrophe.  Psychoneuroimmunology teaches that it is up to each one of us to find ways to hone that energy in a more positive, life-affirming manner.

The results of the last 50 years show all of us that our society cannot continue to be selfish and mindless. Our lukewarm interest and fainthearted commitment to our psychological ecology is mirrored in our economy, schools, hospitals, prisons and long-term care institutions. It is not enough to negotiate our outer reality and deal only with the visible. If we continue in this manner, we will only find provisional relief from our physical, emotional and psychological suffering.  

At this point in history, it would be naive to be seduced into thinking that recycling our bottles, donating a few dollars to an environmental organization and attending a rally once every few years is enough to stop this ailing earth from trembling. We must all learn to face our deceptions and their consequences: our problems are severe. It is up to each one of us to examine where we can make a difference.

Engaging in the ancient practice of mindfulness, minding our thought forms, and contemplating attunement to our inner state are essential and affordable tools. The beauty of this psychoneuroimmunology approach is that it can be practised anywhere, anytime, by anyone. There are no prerequisites. Regardless of ethnic, cultural, social and economic factors, everyone has the option to recognize the potential to heal from within. The native peoples of this land have attempted to communicate this message to us through their tribal heritage and psycho-social alignment.

I believe that we need a new forum where we can share the possibilities of healing ourselves and our planet simultaneously. We need a cellular “Spring Cleanse” where we can release some of our selfish habits and attachments, and our negativity, and really take stock of how our lifestyles reflect our true selves. These lifestyles have left many of us sick, depressed, unemployed, fragmented and unfulfilled. Just as the planet needs help on the exterior, we need help on the interior. We now need to help one another.

This society needs education that psychoneuroimmunology brings in fundamental self-ecology – self-help modalities that direct us toward strengthening our immune systems. Our individual health will, in turn, strengthen the web of society in the weaving of the planetary ecology. Psychoneuroimmunology is just such a system of education for the whole person in a healing world.

Through psychoneuroimmunology we give voice to the subconscious and rediscover our inner strengths and resources – and ultimately our higher guidance. For this we need a clear, still and purified mind. While the discovery that the mind rules over the functions of the body is not new, the solutions derived from this understanding are fundamental. In the future, no therapist will be effective without knowing at least the basic principles of the holistic healing process.

These principles support the immune system by helping us discover unresolved issues in our lives, which we project and inflict upon one another and the environment. This work goes beyond symptom removal to the realms of personal integration and spiritual awareness. The need to stay mindful of our inner-connectedness naturally arises.

Psychoneuroimmunology teaches that each of us has a unique constitution and a very personal journey, which is determined at conception. When balance is maintained, we are healthy. An unbalanced condition is a deviation from the innate harmony, and presents itself during times of great individual or collective stress.

Adverse conditions such as accidents, sudden death, bankruptcy or unhappy relationships frequently lead to persistent personality disorders and eventually manifest in chronic disease, negative thinking and an overall stance of incapacity. As a result, we often fall into a stupor of not caring, or a mindset of thinking that nothing matters.  We feel helpless and believe that we, as individuals, cannot rise above the monumental task of resurrecting balance in our collapsing world. Many of us underestimate the capacity to positively contribute through our thought forms. We can directly effect our immediate and common environment by the clarity, ease and peace with which we think and function.

Scientific evidence concludes that we now have access to the brain tools which create and effect our personal global healing.  Having applied these tools time and time again in my own cancer healing, I know this to be true, and advocate mindful existence.

Psychoneuroimmunology shows us how the influences such as lifestyle, diet, relationships, neighbourhood, climate, environment, spiritual practice, etc., can be accessed in an integral way to realign our relationship with nature.

This is a new and cutting edge approach, providing insight into the epidemic chronic disease patterns that western society is afflicted with at this time. Currently, courses of study in degree granting institutions are still limited, but fast exploding throughout North America . The California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco , under the guidance of Dr. Sondra Barrett, offers a Masters degree, and the Process Work Center in Portland , Oregon , offers a five-year long training program, parallel with a PhD program at Union Graduate School .

As governments implode and chaos threatens worldwide, the benefits of preventative selfcare will become more evident.  Taking responsibility for our own health is fundamental to the philosophy. In our severe health crisis, it is predicted that one out of every three North Americans will be afflicted by a chronic disease by the year 2000.  This need not happen. Practise holistic mindfulness and keep yourself clear, awake, present and aware of all that is, has been and will come to be. It is natural and it is our birthright.

Christine E. DeVai is a self-help educator, film maker and facilitator of compassionate cancer care.  She is currently writing a book on psychoneuroimmunology, as well as proposals on introducing the subject into the Canadian educational system. You can contact her at PO Box 190 , Jackson 's Point ON LOE ILO (please send a stamped, self-addressed envelope for a reply).