In my seemingly endless quest to heal my right foot, one of the angles I look at is the mind/body relation. For this reason, I’m now reading a book called The Healing Journey by Matthew Manning. The author is a Brit whom I’ve seen on video and seems quite nice. He had psychic abilities from a young age, was studied by scientists investigating such phenomena and they found he could indeed make things move by mental power alone, without physical aids. Since the things he could affect included human nerves, Manning decided to put his abilities to uses less boring to himself and more helpful to other people. His book gets endorsements from well-established medical doctors who don’t hesitate to include him on their treatment teams.

Neurologists having assured me that there is no medical cure for my lameness, I was going through Manning’s book, hoping for clues as to how it might be cured by mental means.

So far, I’ve learned that I already do most of the things Manning recommends – keep a journal and close tabs on my emotions, try to light a candle rather than curse the darkness, pray and so on – and I ain’t cured yet!

Finally in mid-book, I came across a list of eleven wrong beliefs that can lead to the “downslope” of unhealthy stress. I’ll share two of the wrong beliefs with you.

  1. “I am not sufficiently in control and I can’t cope … “;
  2.  “I am too angry, too tense, too upset, too irritable or too indignant …”.

No no no no,

a thousand times no!

If stress can make you sick,

the fear of the-stress-that-makes-you-sick

 can make you more stressed – and even sicker.

Look, I can’t heal people with magic fingers so maybe I should just zip it. But I’ve talked a couple of friends out of suicide and on occasion been told by other friends that I’ve made them feel better. Sometimes (for example, after writing this column), I even make myself feel better. Once I talked an acquaintance out of her marijuana addiction with an argument appealing to the Second Law of Thermodynamics. For the life of me, I can’t remember the argument or figure out how I did that.

So, with all due respect to Manning the healer, and the authority he credits for the above-cited Human Function Check List (a certain Dr. Peter Nixon), what’s wrong with The List?

Life shakes us up frequently. If you wear a lot of armor, you won’t feel it as often as I do, but the seismic shake-ups have a way of breaking through any defenses we have. The List implies we can dodge much of that. Not true. We can overdo the wariness or overdo the insouciance. Doesn’t matter. Real life will get us, whatever we do.

From this standpoint, what does it mean to say,

we are in God’s hands?

Just as God (assuming there is a God) would be the one from whom we can’t run and can’t hide – so the seismic shake-ups from which we can’t run or hide need to be co-experienced with a Witness. That Witness must be kinder to ourselves and more intimately aware of us than we can be if we think ourselves alone. We need to assume that there is such a Witness!

That’s what all the recommendations, the journal-keeping, the circle of friends, the physical and mental self-monitoring, are in aid of:

the co-witnessing that we help God to do.

About Abigail

Abigail Rosenthal is Professor Emerita of Philosophy, Brooklyn College of CUNY. She is the author of A Good Look at Evil, a Pulitzer Prize nominee, now available in an expanded, revised second edition and as an audiobook. Its thesis is that good people try to live out their stories while evil people aim to mess up good people’s stories. Her next book, Confessions of a Young Philosopher, forthcoming and illustrated, provides multiple illustrations from her own life. She writes a weekly column for her blog, “Dear Abbie: The Non-Advice Column” (www.dearabbie-nonadvice.com) where she explains why women's lives are highly interesting. She’s the editor of the posthumously published Consolations of Philosophy: Hobbes’s Secret; Spinoza’s Way by her father, Henry M. Rosenthal. Some of her articles can be accessed at https://brooklyn-cuny.academia.edu/AbigailMartin . She is married to Jerry L. Martin, also a philosopher. They live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
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