In my very first column, I introduced the problem of making sense of the vast and often conflicting body of information on health that is now available to us; of discriminating truth from distortion; of finding a coherent understanding that can lead us to practical steps towards health, and the prevention and healing of disease.
Before we move on to subjects such as ‘Bio-identical Hormones – are they a good thing?’, and the ‘WHY of illness’, we should, perhaps, take a look at these questions.
More and more of this information is coming to us via the written word; in the past mainly via the publications of the health and self-help industry but now, increasingly, via the Internet. Browsing through all this can make your head spin. So, what to do?
Firstly, there are some sources which are dismissive of or express contempt towards other writers and their viewpoints. Whatever truth they may contain, these publications have a high chance of significant distortion and misinterpretation and sadly there are a few writers for whom this is their ‘default setting’. If you have come across the illuminating work of Dr David R Hawkins such as ‘Truth v Falsehood’, ‘Power v Force’, and ‘Transcending the Levels of Consciousness’, then you will understand that such writings may come from a relatively low level of awareness. There are also a few who have done excellent work in the past, exposing misconceptions and casting new light on the understandings of the time, only to become stuck in a critical, even destructive mode, progressively losing their credibility.
We should also read between the lines, sensing the motive behind the words. Is this positive and uplifting, or does money, marketing or fame play a disproportionate part in the agenda? Not necessarily; but caveat emptor (buyer beware!)
Who can you trust?
But there are a number of writers now in the field of hormone health and if you read any of Dr John Lee’s books on progesterone or Dr C Norman Shealy on bio-identical hormones, you will find their writing lucid, informative and above all, coherent. All these qualities lead to a clear and easy understanding of the subject because you can sense their words are based on their own experience and wisdom, and are not mainly a compilation of information from other sources.
Less accessible than the written word, but often more valuable in helping us make up our minds, is the spoken word. Seminars and talks may vary in quality, but good ones can save you hours of study, and give you a clearer understanding of a subject and a more direct insight into the mind of the speaker.
Here we might contemplate the apparent conflict between the linear, rational, logical ‘left brained’ evidence-based approach to health; and the more intuitive, subtle, ‘right-brained’ one of complementary and alternative medicine. Recently this seems to have escalated in intensity and rancour. Now, if you are at a conscious level of rationality and reason (Dr David R Hawkins again) – which is probably the greater part of the medical profession, then you see things in black and white, logically. A fact is a fact and evidence is evidence. But this may lead to a rigid, dogmatic, even intimidating certainty and arrogance. Even statistics, facts and evidence need to be interpreted to give them meaning; this is a right brain activity and neither intelligence in isolation of the other can give us an accurate picture.
Even then, just as the sailor of old, seeking to triangulate his position at sea, needed to take three bearings for maximum accuracy, so we need a third ‘bearing’ or intelligence to do the same in our search for truth. This third intelligence is that of ‘ Pure Awareness’, a higher faculty again, and more elusive. Without it we are somewhat like the nine blind men feeling the elephant – we are unaware of the greater part of the picture! But more of this later.
The 3 keys to understanding
In practice, consciously or not, most of us work out our understanding of the truth with another set of three different forms of enquiry. In his book ‘The Ten Secrets of 100% Healthy People’, Patrick Holford describes these as analogy, analysis and direct experience.
First, we may explore a subject through the experiences of others in the form of stories, case histories or surveys. Then we may seek to understand how it works (the logic of analysis) and lastly, if encouraged, we might try it ourselves and see how it works for us. That last is when we seek direct experience and it is this step that tends to crystallise our truth for us.
As long as we remain open minded and flexible to new information from whatever source, we should not go far wrong. In this era of ‘left-brained’ thinking, we should try to become more aware of, and trust, intuitive feelings about our own bodies and not allow our (or other people’s) rational linear minds to dominate us. That said, ‘It’s good to have an open mind’, as I heard a doctor say many years ago, ‘just so long as it’s not so open that your brain falls out!’