Becoming Fully Integrated

By Dr. Andy Swanson
Nature Cures Clinic Physician
Every day I go to work, I see patients suffering from health conditions.  My work is to stay intently focused on their story, their symptoms, what my stethoscope and palpation is telling me on physical exams.  The clearer my mind, the more thorough my evaluation, the easier it is to fully understand the crux of the matter at hand.  In my practice this means getting the right diagnosis and treatment in order that the patient’s health improves as soon as possible.  This kind of clarity involves homework, and not always of the academic kind.  I spend much of my free time exploring my own obstacles, to bring resolve to those things in my life that cause conflict, in order that I can become less and less distracted and thus more and more available to my patients.  When I enter the room with a patient, I often go through a visual practice of emptying my mind, leaving all that is a conscious distraction outside the room so that I can be one hundred percent available to the patient.
This is a tool that I believe we can all benefit from in many aspects of our life.  It is about becoming fully integrated in the moment, wherever you are, focused completely on what you are doing.  Could you imagine trying to hit a baseball moving 95 mph with one eye looking in the other direction?  Or trying to hit a golf ball straight without keeping your eye on the ball?  It strikes me that the number one thing any of us could do in our personal and professional lives is to become fully invested in what we are doing.  What could be more fulfilling?  Conversely, when we become distracted, or when we feel conflicted, we lose our focus and this creates disharmony.
By staying with the heart of the matter, keeping both eyes on the ball, we are better able to fully feel and experience whatever we are doing.  In this way, we also keep a hand on the pulse of our life, getting immediate feedback from the body about situations in which we are involved.  Becoming familiar with this feedback system allows one to refine the choices they make on a daily basis.  For example, people often complain of awaking at three or four in the morning due to a restless mind.  People want a pill to get them back to sleep.  Do you see the metaphor here?  People are less inclined to ask the question, “What is my body telling me?”  By taking a medication that hides the discomfort they essentially sleep their way through conflict.
As a naturopathic physician, I share a philosophy with my fellow colleagues; one which believes in the innate intelligence of the human body.  It is a truly remarkable feat to maintain homeostasis to the degree that the human body does most of the time.  Health is a daily gift that many of us take for granted.  In the above example, one has a restless mind that keeps them awake at night, and wants a pill to go back to sleep.  Clinically, I see the intelligence of the human body activated, providing energy to fuel one’s need to make change, to find a solution to conflict.  Insomnia rarely presents without context, and sleeping pills ignore the messenger.
What changes is life calling you to make?  Where is your deepest source of happiness?  Your deepest frustration?  What keeps you awake at night?  I’m not suggesting that making change is easy, but I do believe that our lives become enriched the more that we focus on what we are doing in the moment.  That means that any personal grievance, conflict, or dissatisfaction that is hanging over us gets in the way of hitting the home run, or keeping your eyes on the ball.  These issues never completely resolve, but the more distractions we remove the more we become invested in our present action.  This enables us to call on more resources for power, stamina, and vision.

Every day I go to work, I see patients suffering from health conditions.  My work is to stay intently focused on their story, their symptoms, what my stethoscope and palpation is telling me on physical exams.

The clearer my mind, the more thorough my evaluation, the easier it is to fully understand the crux of the matter at hand.  In my practice this means getting the right diagnosis and treatment in order that the patient’s health improves as soon as possible.

This kind of clarity involves homework, and not always of the academic kind.  I spend much of my free time exploring my own obstacles, to bring resolve to those things in my life that cause conflict, in order that I can become less and less distracted and thus more and more available to my patients.  When I enter the room with a patient, I often go through a visual practice of emptying my mind, leaving all that is a conscious distraction outside the room so that I can be one hundred percent available to the patient.

This is a tool that I believe we can all benefit from in many aspects of our life.  It is about becoming fully integrated in the moment, wherever you are, focused completely on what you are doing.

Could you imagine trying to hit a baseball moving 95 mph with one eye looking in the other direction?  Or trying to hit a golf ball straight without keeping your eye on the ball?  It strikes me that the number one thing any of us could do in our personal and professional lives is to become fully invested in what we are doing.  What could be more fulfilling?  Conversely, when we become distracted, or when we feel conflicted, we lose our focus and this creates disharmony.

By staying with the heart of the matter, keeping both eyes on the ball, we are better able to fully feel and experience whatever we are doing.  In this way, we also keep a hand on the pulse of our life, getting immediate feedback from the body about situations in which we are involved.  Becoming familiar with this feedback system allows one to refine the choices they make on a daily basis.  For example, people often complain of awaking at three or four in the morning due to a restless mind.  People want a pill to get them back to sleep.  Do you see the metaphor here?  People are less inclined to ask the question, “What is my body telling me?”  By taking a medication that hides the discomfort they essentially sleep their way through conflict.

As a naturopathic physician, I share a philosophy with my fellow colleagues; one which believes in the innate intelligence of the human body.  It is a truly remarkable feat to maintain homeostasis to the degree that the human body does most of the time.  Health is a daily gift that many of us take for granted.  In the above example, one has a restless mind that keeps them awake at night, and wants a pill to go back to sleep.  Clinically, I see the intelligence of the human body activated, providing energy to fuel one’s need to make change, to find a solution to conflict.  Insomnia rarely presents without context, and sleeping pills ignore the messenger.

What changes is life calling you to make?  Where is your deepest source of happiness?  Your deepest frustration?  What keeps you awake at night?  I’m not suggesting that making change is easy, but I do believe that our lives become enriched the more that we focus on what we are doing in the moment.  That means that any personal grievance, conflict, or dissatisfaction that is hanging over us gets in the way of hitting the home run, or keeping your eyes on the ball.  These issues never completely resolve, but the more distractions we remove the more we become invested in our present action.  This enables us to call on more resources for power, stamina, and vision.

4 thoughts on “Becoming Fully Integrated”

  1. Andy:

    Thanks for the fine insight. It reads as if it came from a person that has spent some time sitting on a cushion, contemplating the wall. Nice balance and on the mark.

    I hope all is well with you.

    Tom

  2. Beautiful! I love the writing of Doc Andy Swanson, it is both soothing and sincere. Very appealing to the soul.

  3. I couldn’t agree more, being in the present and giving your all to that moment is what it is all about. However, that being said, it’s one of the most difficult things to do, unless you take your lead from children who are experts at it!

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