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Healing from Within

The Paradigm Shift

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I have seen it a couple of times, and I hope some of you may have seen it too – a picture of a young, beautiful girl, which when looked at from a different line, seems to be that of an old, wrinkled woman. This picture is also featured in Stephen R. Covey book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Though Stephen, who has more than 25 years of working experience with people in business, university, and marriage and family settings, relates the picture to a different theme, the central focus of how you see this picture revolves around just one universal thing – the Paradigm Shift.

In 1962, Thomas Kuhn wrote The Structure of Scientific Revolution, and fathered, defined and popularized the concept of "paradigm shift." Kuhn argued that scientific advancement is not evolutionary, but rather is a "series of peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions", and in those revolutions "one conceptual world view is replaced by another."

What is a Paradigm Shift?

Paradigm shift is a change from one way of thinking to another, and can apply to anything on earth – your job, your married life, your relationships, your home, your surroundings, and more importantly, your health. The signs are all around us. And what is with you, around you, within you is the same most of the time. What, however, changes is your attitude to all these. Your positive or negative, and good or bad, attitudes define the way things appear to you.

Some of you detest the spring season because it brings flu along with, but some of you who are left untouched by flu, like it. That way, for some the chilly breeze is a nemesis, but for the rest it is sheer bliss, poetry in motion, romance in the air and what have you? Spring is constant. It is inevitable. It is constant every year. There is no year when a spring is missing. What, however, is changing is your attitude to it. In a given year, when flu doesn’t catch up with you, you may like the spring. That is paradigm shift.

Paradigm Shift Applies to Everything

As I said above, paradigm shift applies to everything. Even paradigm shift is a constant. How much of it do you recognize, internalize or apply depends on how receptive you are to change.

Kuhn states that "awareness is prerequisite to all acceptable changes of theory." It all begins in the mind of the person. Mind is central to your health. Disturbed mind gives rise to a disturbed body, and when the body is disturbed, it disturbs the mind further. (You can find plenty on mind on this site elsewhere – put up a search or simply surf on.) Kuhn further states that what we perceive, whether normal or metanormal, conscious or unconscious, are subject to the limitations and distortions produced by our inherited and socially conditional nature. However, we are not restricted by this for we can change. We are moving at an accelerated rate of speed and our state of consciousness is transforming and transcending. Many are awakening as our conscious awareness expands.

Somatic Education

In other words, Kuhn probably means that with each awakening, we can recognize the paradigm shift. We can recognize the paradigm shift towards our own body and mind, good or bad health. A paradigm is a viewpoint and a set of rules. When these viewpoints and rules are positive, they are better. And healthier. Such ‘healthier rules’ improve the natural control of our own body. Contemporarily, this is called somatic education. Somatic, because it deals with the awareness of the body “from within”; education, because has to do with the awakening abilities.

Deliberate Self-Healing

Thomas Hanna has been a prime researcher and innovator in the field of somatics, and has worked deeply on – what he terms – deliberate self-healing on "the other side of the paradigm shift" in healing.

Hanna says: “There are two distinct ways of perceiving and acting upon physiological processes: first, one can perceive a body and act upon a body; second, one can perceive a soma and act upon a soma. The first instance is a third-person standpoint that sees an objective body there, separate from the observer -- a body upon which the observer can act -- for example, a doctor treating the patient. The second instance is a first-person standpoint that sees a subjective soma here: namely, oneself -- ones own soma, upon whose process one can personally work, oneself. A soma, then, is a body perceived from within.

Somatic education, in other words, is the improvement of bodily awareness to gain greater voluntary control of ones bodily processes. It is somatic in the sense that learning occurs within the individual as an internalized process. I may need to verify this correlation, but I guess this is how yoga works. You develop a defense mechanism from within against a stressor or a disease, rather than fortify yourself from outside through uncontrolled use of drugs, multivitamins, and all that over-the-counter stuff.

When you heal yourself from within, medicine attains a different meaning – and you let it go through a paradigm shift. The shift is from that of medicine-as-intervention to one of self-healing. Self-healing has its own, and often new rules. This is probably why people say they “discovered” a new life after they started practicing yoga. What they call a discovery is, in fact, a paradigm shift, which they were failing to recognize earlier.

With “discovery” of this sort comes the understanding that human body is not just a machine full of different organs that would need occasional fixing if anything goes wrong, but is a noble entity that works on the delicately intricate network of emotions, thoughts, reflexes, needs, aspirations, and sensations. It is these subtle, somatic entities that help you live and understand life better, rather than various immovable organs that stay put and execute what they are supposed to do every day, every hour, every minute, and every second. Put differently, it is your mind and its paradigms and not the body that help you attain perfect wellbeing.
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