Sunday, September 24th, 2017

Carolyn Myss’s Energy Medicine Approach to Changing Attitudes & Behaviour


Nothing happens to the body without the mind’s permission, so for those of you who want to improve your health, be it through weight loss or personal growth, it sometimes helps to study the wisdom or words of experts from areas you would not normally explore.  At a recent conference I was really impressed by the work presented by Caroline Myss.

Myss is an American medical intuitive, which translated means she can read your energy system and tell you what condition you have and what caused the condition on an emotional and spiritual level. Basically, Myss believes that all conditions, including overweight and obesity have an emotional base, and says that when we clear blocked emotions our health improves.

As well as being a medical intuitive, Myss is also a best selling author and her books lay testament to how far the world has progressed since Shirley Maclaine nearly got burnt at the stake in 1983 when she released her book, “Out On A Limb” which referred to reincarnation. Maclaine’s book was only mildly ‘spiritual’ or ‘alternative’ compared to Myss. Myss has introduced concepts like chakras, archetypes and energy medicine into the living room of many minds and given the concepts a certain legitimacy. Notwithstanding, her approach is bold and unashamedly incorporates reference to prayer and God as well as energy systems such as the chakras, so if these concepts offend you or are not consistent with your belief system, don’t read this blog!

Before seeing Myss present in the flesh I had been warned that she was no shrinking violet, so was not expecting any sugar coated hand holding when taking a personal growth  journey with Ms Myss. Someone said that if you are a victim of your belief systems, or deluded by your own denial, she will cut through your excuses quicker than you can blink.

To the contrary, I found Myss to be quite mesmerizing and very motivating, and not at all as scary as I had been told. She was the last speaker at the “I Can Do It”, Hay House conference in Tampa Florida (November 2009) and was really worth waiting for. It is hardly surprising that she was placed last. Most attendees waited for her. She inspired, she healed, and she gave hope. Based on her content, her energy and her conviction I would highly recommend anything she has produced for public consumption be it written, spoken or developed. This woman knows her stuff, and unlike many, appears to live it.

Myss prefaced her talk by selling the concepts of energy and personal growth. She pointed out how people have become more interested in their inner world of thoughts and personal development than their outer physical worlds. The growth of psychology, alternate healing therapies and the New Age movement support her view. We do speak more openly about energy. We comment when certain people drain our energy, we buy feng shui books and good luck charms, we no longer call people who do yoga weird, we care about the energy consumption of the earth and actively do things that conserve energy, be it our use of physical energy like electricity and petrol, or our own management of internal energies like anxiety and anger.

One of the most powerful manifestations of energy is change. The world has become a rapidly changing place. Change is happening faster than it used to. Our technology is out of date within six months, just like our relationships. We also change our minds more quickly than we used to. We change our minds about what our favourite food or TV show is, who our favourite person is, and what job we want to work in. We have become fickle. We don’t stick to our weight loss or exercise programs and rarely follow up on our New Year resolutions. We change our minds like we change our clothes!

We can see the changes in what we consider important when we look at relationships, a major source of emotional tension and reason for emotional eating! Once upon a time we broke up with our partners for concrete reasons or even worse, put up with abuse and unhappiness because one partner went out to work and paid the bills, and the other ran the household and depended on the “provider” for financial survival. Now we split up because the relationship doesn’t ‘feel right’, because our psychological needs are not being met. Not surprisingly, the divorce rate has escalated. We want our partners to be who we need them to be. And, we want them to see who we are, not that we are ever clear about that. Most of us are not clairvoyant so being able to meet each other’s expectations is fraught with failure. It is hardly surprising our friendships, working relationships and personal relationships break up. Instead of acceptance of individual differences there is expectation and as most of us have learned the hard way, expectation usually leads to disappointment or some other negative emotion that we use as an excuse for poor behaviours such as emotional eating or drinking too much.

The concept of energy has become more important not only in our relationships but in relation to how we cope with the changes in our life, the illnesses we develop and how we choose to live. We are more and more aware that it is not just the food we eat that determines our energy levels but the emotions we choose to experience, the relationships we choose to stay in, the jobs we choose to work in, the way we interact with our spaces, the amount and way we move our body. How we manage our energy has become paramount. Everything is about energy. Even e-motion is energy-in-motion, and often our undoing.

You only need to look at our food supply to gauge how much change has taken place in our world. No longer do we eat seasonal food, cook most of our meals at home in an oven and eat at the table. No, we eat any food all year round because we just import what we don’t have for that season, or grow it hydroponically under scientifically designed conditions. We eat fast food, packaged and processed food and use microwaves in preference to slow cooking and probably eat more in the car, in front of TV and on the run than we eat at the table. Both our food habits and the food we eat have changed, and our weight has changed with it. Most of us are fatter, and if we are not fatter, then we are not as healthy.

Now think about the changes we have seen in medicine. When we were growing up healing was physical and based on what was called the Medical Model. We went to the doctor, he examined us physically and then identified a specific physical treatment for the physical illness he diagnosed. Of course, we now know that our healing journeys are a lot more complex than that. Gone are the days when we focused only on the physical aspects of healing like our genetics, how much we exercise, and what we eat. We now focus on psycho-social factors like how we live, who we live with, the status of our relationships, how much we like our work, our financial situation, the degree of stress we have in our lives and how we manage it.

Thirty years ago dietetics followed the medical model. Overweight clients would present to the dietitian and the dietitian would educate them in the obvious, how to eat less and exercise more. Of course, none of you did what you were told, and many of us quickly accepted that the medical model for weight loss doesn’t work. Dietetics has now moved to something bordering on the biopsychosocial model that acknowledges that your thoughts, emotions and habits need to be addressed if you are to successfully lose weight.

It seems like energy will soon be appended to the biopsychosocial approach because scientists, more particularly those with an understanding of quantum physicists, are describing us as vibrational beings living in a vibrational universe.  While more conservative people and practitioners would like to pooh pooh or ignore the concept of the vibrational universe, quantum physics and other research scientists have the data to back up their claims. Even traditional medicine has proved mind-body relationships in health. For example, the relationship between positive emotions and immunity is well accepted based on research published in referenced journals.

Many alternative brands of practitioners such as acupuncturists, energy psychologists and kinesiologists have been telling their clients for decades that their beliefs affect their energy system. And, not surprisingly, many people will seek out more alternate approaches to health when traditional medicine fails to “cure them”. Let’s face it, when you are faced with a life threatening illness like cancer you will likely pack more into your healing journey then you would pack for an overseas holiday. If you are diagnosed with cancer you may initially consult a medical doctor for physical treatment such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, but many of you will also cover the “alternate” bases and consult anyone from a kinesiologist, herbalist, naturopath, osteopath, chiropractor, acupuncturist, energy healer, nutritionist, even a clairvoyant. You may also buy water purifiers, eat only organic food, follow an alkaline diet, do yoga, visit Lourdes for some holy water, consult St John of God in South America, pray, meditate, leave your spouse, quit your job, move house, take more vitamins and minerals, drink concoctions that taste like floor polish, and the list goes on.

The healing journey is pregnant with possibility, unfortunately, most of it not guaranteed, especially in the weight loss arena. The global health crises of heart disease, cancer and metabolic diseases caused by unhealthy lifestyles and obesity have created a plethora of healing modalities. The number and variety of health treatments is both overwhelming and intimidating. Medicine can no longer subsist on the medical model; it has fierce competitors and a wealth of literature highlighting the importance of social and psychological factors in disease and health as well as physiological factors. This blog shows how Myss has taken the breadth of health one step further by introducing processes that defy reason and take a mystical path to healing.

More people are fighting to find ways to be healthy rather than actually “being” healthy. Humans seem to get more excited about possibilities than the actually “doing” of the goal they seek. For example, magazines frequently sell well because of the health promises, particularly in relation to weight loss, that they strategically present on their front covers. Of course, we all know that most people sabotage their attempts to get healthy and just keep buying the magazines promising yet another magic weight loss diet or another magic health strategy. The winners of the “Get healthy movement” are people like the media magnate Rupert Murdoch, Tony Ferguson with his meal replacement products and Jenny Craig and her food manufacturing business. They trade on the human attraction to hope and the knowledge that our hopes are usually cemented in to our psyche with laziness and a history of poor follow through in relation to health-related behaviour change.

Research has not identified the ingredients of healing and has definitely not identified the key to weight related behaviour change. Most of you will know that what we think is truth one day, is disproved the next.

Myss says we are the products of the age of reason meaning that the cognitive processes that we use to interpret our world and make decisions go back 100s of years. Based on how humans like to portray themselves one would assume that we were all terribly reasonable people, living in a reasonable and objectively defined world? Of course, we all know this is not true. Having been marinated in an age of reason for the last few centuries, a source of constant pain for all us is not being able to understand those things, which seemingly defy reason. We constantly search for reasons for everything. When something happens to us, we have automatic self-talk like, “Why me?”  “It’s not fair” and “Why did I have to come from a big boned family?”  At the physical level we ask questions like, “Was it my diet, my weight, my lack of exercise, my genes?” We want logical, objective and reasonable answers, and more than often we don’t get one.

When objective physical data does not give us the reasonable and logical answers we want, Myss says we take the elevator up to where we think the mind is and search for psychological and emotional reasons for our medical conditions, even our weight. In the last few decades with the introduction of language like bio-psycho-social we are more accepting of the notion that disease and some of our habits like binge eating can have an emotional origin. Research has confirmed that emotions play a role in our lifestyle diseases. For example, in the world of health psychology it is well accepted that heart disease can be exacerbated by emotions like hostility, and that low self-esteem is an underlying issue in people who have eating disordered behaviour. It defies the old medical model that if we find deeper psychological causes of our lifestyle diseases including our weight issues and pain we may solve the mystery of our poor health and regain optimal health.

A more recent linguistic term being bounced around by mainly alternate practitioners is the body-mind-spirit domain. Myss says that when we don’t get answers at the psychological level we take another elevator ride beyond the mind to God.

Now a number of people do not like the term God so to make the term more consumable, if you are reading this blog, think of it as higher consciousness. We all know God is not evidence-based, it is a faith-based concept, and we also know that people who have some sort of life philosophy to live by, such as believing in God, seem to cope better with life and health in general.

Researchers like Larry Dossey have provided some evidence in relation to the belief that God has a role in healing. Dossey’s studies have demonstrated using rigorous research methods the power of prayer (to God) in at least two areas, recovery from cardiac surgery and the success of IVF procedures. However, you won’t need to look much further to find that skeptics have done further research that debunk his research based claims! Regardless, prayer appears to be powerful and certainly it keeps you focused on the goals you wish to achieve including weight loss and overcoming eating disordered behaviour.

The mind alone cannot solve your deepest anguish, get your finances in order, improve your fitness, lose your weight, resolve relationship difficulties, force you to forgive all the people you hold responsible for your issues including your past. Cancer recurs, other illnesses recur, weight is regained. We cannot rely on the mind alone to do our healing, or God or some mystical experience for that matter. We are complex multi-faceted creatures. And healing a body that we have abused in more ways than one be it layering it with creams saturated in sodium lauryl sulphate, to eating foods microwaved in plastic that leaches phthalates or bpa into our systems or eating plant food grown is soil drenched in pesticides, cannot just be done by using the mind. And anyway, most of our minds are pretty damaged. We have all suffered, and the mind has taken the brunt. Healing a damaged body with a damaged mind doesn’t make any logical or reasonable sense.

Myss counsels us to climb back into the elevator and ascend to a level where reason does not operate to heal something unreasonable such as recurrent cancer and other acute and chronic ills. Assumedly she is referring to what she calls the mystical level, the space that defies needing an evidence base, and does not necessarily have God as CEO.

Myss spoke in a way that reminded me of Buddha’s noble truths including his first noble truth, “Life is suffering”, and his second noble truth, “We suffer because we are ignorantly  attached to beliefs and desires that don’t serve us”. Myss explained that when we become ill or distressed or tired or any other situation that causes us to lose power or disempower, we often assume that the retrieval of our power is about identifying who or what disempowered or negatively impacted on us, and getting that energy or power back. However, revenge, Myss suggests, is a toxin to our system. It is not so much about who caused your disempowerment but what you want to do to get back at who injured or hurt you or caused your problems. Myss says, “Here you find the source of your toxins. These are the blisters that need lancing.”

We have a focus and regard for suffering according to both Myss and Buddha. Suffering gives us permission to say things like, “I suffered therefore I can do this. I had a bad day so I can eat. I paid my dues; so this gives me permission to do this or that”.

Myss proposes that for people suffering holds some kind of power and privilege. If you tell someone you suffered you expect a certain response. Many people wear their suffering like a badge and find avenues such as some support groups to be constantly reminded of their suffering.

This suffering issue is a big deal in life and healing. As they say, ‘hurt people hurt’. We have all suffered and when we suffer often make others suffer, and even ourselves. Myss says, “Healing is difficult because of our romance with suffering. It gives us permission to treat others badly.  We get to say, ‘I have had a bad day so I can make you suffer as I have’.” My work with people with weight and eating disordered issues has shown me that while they suffer they do not necessarily take their suffering out on others, they take it out on themselves. Healing can be a disempowering choice because to heal you can no longer use suffering as a privilege, as a reason to punish others or yourself or exhibit bad behaviour, or as a reason to play the victim.

On some level we all experience anger. Most of the damage we inflict upon others and ourselves is done when we are angry. Anger is attached to suffering, and is best friends with lack of forgiveness. If we could put our rage and anger on a diet, and literally stop feeding it, we could all live more peaceful lives. Instead of harming others, and ourselves we could love and support one another. Novel concept isn’t it? If only everyone on the planet could do it.

Some clever person referred to lack of forgiveness as a self-imposed prison we place ourselves in. Making others suffer because we can’t or don’t want to forgive is just a prison. To get out of prison we need to forgive others and ourselves and stop this conflict we create between each other.  To forgive, one cannot be afraid to be kind and loving. To forgive we need to make a conscious effort to infuse every breath with loving kindness. We have the choice to fill our bodies with love or fear. If we continue to live in fear and not forgive we will just continue playing life like a game of psychological ping pong passing pain, suffering and distress backwards and forwards between each other. Same stuff, different day. And, what do we all collectively want as we feed our attachment to suffering, PEACE and HAPPINESS! Are we a twisted species or what, we seem to constantly do the things that don’t get us the goals we are seeking! For example, we want desperately to lose weight, but binge eat!

According to Myss, the soul understands unreasonable things; the ego only understands reason. So clearly, to heal we need to take the elevator to the penthouse and hope that a divine enema will be delivered to allow the pain to pass through along with all the toxic thoughts, emotions, memories, habits and beliefs that keep us attached to suffering and being active co-creators of suffering including staying overweight or eating disordered.

Myss refers to the soul as, “The centre of who you are, the moment of God, of everything”. She believes that if you are very still and in reflection you will become very aware of how each choice is conscious. She referred to this state as self-awareness.

Myss offered a process to release the fear, pain and suffering we cart around. Myss referred to the process as going into the seven Shadows and Graces.  The Shadow represents the darker side of our selves, and the Grace, the antidote. These Shadows and Graces Myss aligned with the seven chakras, but pointed out that compared to the Graces and Shadows, the chakras are concrete.

In performing this process Myss advises you to see yourself as an hourglass, the waist being the fourth or middle chakra.

The Shadow of the first chakra represents Pride or what shames you. To connect with what shames you think about the bad things that your family has said about you, especially in relation to your weight and self-worth.

According to Myss, the first or base chakra is where we experience our sense of status. It will tell you what status means to you. The Shadow beliefs and memories of the first chakra not only form us, they take us away from who we really are. Instead of tapping into the Grace of Reverence and experiencing being truly alive, we stay tied down by status, believing that our concept of status represents who we are. Suicidal people, Myss says, are detached from the Grace of Reverence, of simply being able to love life because they are alive; loving life because it is good; or holding on to the good of life. Suicidal people have first chakra energies that are not in alignment. They question who they are. They experience a loss of identity because they don’t know who they are without their status. Take the rich business man who goes broke. Without his BMW, fancy house, good looking girlfriend and Georgio Armani suit he feels worthless. The Grace of revering life crashed because it was tied to illusions of status.

To move from the Shadow of Pride to the healing Grace of Reverence, we need to remind ourselves that we are loved. We need to hold on to the feeling that life is good. When the Grace of the first chakra crashes because of Pride ask God to give you the Grace of Reverence.

We all need a reason to be on this earth. When you experience the Grace of Reverence Myss promises that you will feel omnipotent. She says you will weather life’s storms because the Grace of Reverence allows you to handle them. She described the Grace of Reverence as the “the divine wind that grabs you. It unties the knot in your gut. Takes the heat out of the shame”.

If you do not address the Shadow of Pride in the first chakra you will not be able to look at another person and say, “You are as good as me”. You will always have to look at others and say, “You are not as good as me”. Your perception and beliefs about status and ‘who is who in the zoo’ will be your benchmark in judging yourself and others. These chakra one beliefs whether they are related to your pride or shame are sources of stress, and they age you. When you view the world through the Shadow of Pride you become a prisoner of pride. We live in a world not just thick with pride but predicated on pride. The media knows it, and so do marketers. They make a fortune out of it. We live not just in fear of success and failure, but in fear of humiliation be it related to what we look like, what people think of us, and the list goes on. Fears related to pride have us completely controlled.

Myss says that every choice we make is filtered through this Shadow of Pride first. It is this Shadow that determines who we respect. To process this Shadow we must stop blaming our childhood. To get in touch with your soul, to be who you really are, you need to own that the only person in your soul is you, and blaming things outside yourself, be it your upbringing, your family, or your circumstances, only keeps you from showing who you really are.

The second Shadow is found in the second or sacral chakra. It is the Shadow of Illness. This is where sexuality and creativity are housed. It is the chakra that can be used as a weapon so it is also represented by knives, forks and wallets. It is the most irrational area.

This is the Shadow of the gambler, the house of greed. It is the Shadow that goes shopping and eats too much. Greed is irrational so this is where you find attention, affection, “stuff”, toys, money, fame, power, power to punish, the power to control someone’s behaviour and their future. This is where you hear what your parents had to say to you. This is where you hear parents say things like, “If only I could take the suffering from my child”. But really, as you know, few people give unconditionally and at a later date the parent will remind the child what they have done.

Greed usually manifests as one person getting ahead, and not another. When this Shadow is manifesting you only know people if they are useful to you. You will find reasons to think negatively about someone such as “this person abused me or was violent to me”. Not surprisingly the healing light of this Shadow is Piety. Piety allows you to see goodness in someone else for no reason. When you are in Grace you do not need to compete with others. You will be able to admit that your beliefs about the person were created by you. Divinity shows the soul. If you hold to reason your ego will hold to hatred. Using prayer will infuse this Shadow with light says Myss.

The third Shadow is Entitlement. This is the Shadow that demands respect. When reflecting on how this Shadow pervades your life identify everything you think you are entitled to, for example, getting a return on your money because you paid for it. This Shadow causes you to assume that someone has to deliver on your entitlements. Some may believe they were entitled to a perfect marriage or a perfect child. When someone says, “I never thought this would happen to me” you know that this Shadow is alive and well. A good response is, “Well, who did you think it would happen to?”

If you don’t explore your own sense of entitlement you will never realise how entitled you are and will unconsciously take your entitlement out on someone else. Someone will pay, and if they don’t it could manifest in your physical body. For example, “I eat because I am miserable and had a bad childhood”. Entitlement is often the source of illnesses said Myss. For example, “I am sick because I worked so hard”.

The Grace of Understanding fixes the Shadow of Entitlement according to Myss. She counsels those with the Shadow of Entitlement to say “Give me the Grace or the higher truth of why I am like this. Give me the Grace to see what is unfolding in my life as I cannot see it. I am not in Grace when I can’t see it.”

The fourth Shadow is Wrath. Anger resides in the heart and it is not surprising to know that the angry heart is at present in epidemic proportions across the globe.  An example of an angry entitlement is believing we are entitled to an inheritance or career progression and become angry when we are not bequeathed it. Not surprisingly, the Grace from here is “I love, I love, I love”.

Myss says the ego understands our highest potential because it is a survival machine. However, she says that the soul understands that every minute of every conversation, every act, everything has a highest potential. There is a higher potential in everything. It is now time for a complete life change. To achieve the Grace to heal the Shadow of Wrath we must ask God for Fortitude. By following the most unreasonable guidance the most unreasonable miracles happen. Ask, “Give me the fortitude to follow the most unreasonable track or short cut you can give me”.

The fifth Shadow relates to Spiritual Gluttony. We keep feeding ourselves lies; we rarely speak truth. The Grace to heal the Shadow of Spiritual Gluttony is the Grace of Counsel. The Grace of Counsel at a high truth level allows you to understand your life, to identify what needs to be removed. Crises in our lives change us physically, but where do they change us archetypically? The Grace of Counsel is about understanding the mystical truth, the symbolic meanings in your life.

The sixth Shadow is Envy and the Grace to heal it is Knowledge. This Grace gives us a masterful understanding of what is happening in relation to mystical truth. It is about mystical laws or universal laws, laws such as, ‘All is One’.  Prayer and Grace are mystical truths.

The seventh Shadow is Sloth.  To heal this Shadow is the Grace of Guidance or Wisdom. It is hard to operate on the Grace of that guidance all the time. In this pivotal time of change we can no longer use excuses to explain away why we are not responding to our highest potential. If we were operating from our natural Graces we would know how powerful we are and what we could do. To be lazy gets us nowhere. The Grace of Guidance or Wisdom provides information on what is the wise thing to do. Why would God send us to be exposed to great teachings? What is heaven asking of you? We are all being called to something greater and we need to sit in stillness and see what we are being called to. Go inside and see what you are afraid of loving, of being, of doing. Start with your thinking, “I am truly a channel for Grace”. See the world around you as a field of Grace. A mystical law is that the mystic knows the force of a prayer changes the world.

By working through your shadows at each chakra and infusing it with the requisite Grace, true healing can take place. For more information on Caroline Myss go to her website, This blog refers to her latest book,  Defy Gravity: Healing Beyond the Bounds of Reason.

Myss has written several books and a quick review of any of her books will quickly indicate to you that she is one complex, extremely intelligent woman. She writes good stuff, but it gets a bit heavy. At the Hay House conference she fast tracked us because she had to. They gave her one and a half hours to get her point across. This was the perfect way to go because it forced her to simplify. For those of you who want meat on the bones of the information provided in this blog, you can buy her books and DVDs from Hay House Publishers, Amazon or her website.  One book written by Myss called Entering The Castle: An Inner Path to God and Your Soul has led to spontaneous healings according to Myss; so perhaps it could be a good two-for-one read for some?

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