Guest Blog by Lissa Rankin, MD
As a doctor, when I would first meet someone with a serious illness, I’d always ask them one question that has been linked to a good prognosis: ‘Do you feel like you’ve found and are fulfilling your calling?’
It’s well known in the medical literature that work stress and physical illness are linked. In fact, in my book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself (http://mindovermedicinebook.com), I list all the scientific data proving that work stress can literally kill you. (In Japan, they call it “karoshi,” and the families of people who die of karoshi can qualify for Workman’s Comp-like benefits.
So yes, work stress and disease are linked, but did you know that finding and fulfilling your calling could improve your chances of a radical remission, even from a seemingly “incurable” illness? Let me tell you a few stories.
The Harmonica Angel
In 1996, Andy Mackie was told he would die within a year if he stopped taking the 15 heart medications that doctors told him were saving his life after he had undergone 9 heart surgeries. But the side effects of the drugs made Andy’s quality of life so miserable that he decided to stop his drugs and live the rest of his life as comfortably and happily as possible. Since he figured he didn’t have long to live, he decided to do something he had always wanted to do, so he took the $600 he would have spent on his heart medicines and bought 300 harmonicas for children in public school, complete with lessons from Andy himself.
When Andy didn’t die the next month, he bought a few hundred more, and the Andy Mackie Music Foundation (http://andymackiemusic.org) was born. Fifteen years and 20,000 harmonicas later, Andy finally died, but not without having taught over 6,000 children how to play the harmonica and many thousands more how to play strum sticks and guitars he made himself.
Cami Walker has a similar story of healing through purposeful generosity. Cami was 33 years old when diagnosed with debilitating multiple sclerosis, which left her barely able to walk. When conventional medicine failed her, she sought out the treatment of South African medicine woman Mbali Creazzo, who wrote a prescription on a pad- “Give 29 Gifts in 29 days.” So she did. And at the end of the 29 days, her symptoms were nearly gone. This inspired her to start 29Gifts.org (http://www.29gifts.org), a nonprofit that invites people to practice generosity by experimenting with this generosity challenge- giving 29 gifts in 29 days.
Health & Life Purpose Are Linked
How could radical remission and finding your calling be linked? In my book Mind Over Medicine (http://mindovermedicinebook.com), I include clear scientific proof that your body is fully equipped to heal itself when you give it the right conditions. It’s well described in all physiology texts that your body has natural self-healing mechanisms that can destroy cancer, fight off infection, reverse heart disease, and slow aging. But here’s the kicker that they don’t tend to teach you in medical school. Your body’s self-healing mechanisms only function when your nervous system is in the parasympathetic mode, or what Herbert Benson at Harvard called the “relaxation response.” Every time your nervous system goes into the sympathetic mode, which Walter Cannon at Harvard called the “stress response” or which you may know as the “fight or flight” response, your body’s natural self-healing mechanisms get flipped off. Then radical remission becomes almost impossible.
When you are finding and fulfilling your calling, you create the perfect environment for radical remission, and you also contribute your love to the world in ways that this planet needs now more than ever.
What’s Your Calling?
In my new book The Anatomy of a Calling (http://theanatomyofacalling.com), I use mythologist Joseph Campbell’s description of the “hero’s journey” as a map for finding and fulfilling your calling, not just as medicine for the body, but as medicine for the soul.
Do you hear the phone ringing with the instructions for your hero’s journey? What is your soul meant to contribute to this earth, as only your unique soul can offer its gifts? How will your love bless the world? Are you already fulfilling your calling?
No matter where you are in your journey to finding and fulfilling your calling, The Anatomy of a Calling (http://theanatomyofacalling.com) is meant to comfort, support, encourage, and facilitate your hero’s journey. Now more than ever, our beautiful Mother Earth needs us to have all hands on deck. Each of us incarnated into these bodies for a love-based purpose, and your love is needed in the world.
If you hear the phone ringing with the instructions for your calling, please pick up. And if you’re already on the sometimes harrowing hero’s journey, thank you for your courage.
Illness itself can be part of a hero’s journey, so even if you think you’re too sick to find and fulfill your calling, you may already be right on track. As I describe in my book, sometimes the way we find our callings is to go to hell and back, and then, once we’ve made it out of hell, we are filled with wisdom that can support others who are still in pain. While a healing journey may not seem like a way to find and fulfill your calling, it often is. So whether you’re sick or well, know that you don’t have to find your calling. Callings choose you. They pursue you like a lover and beckon for you until you say YES.
Thank you for being a hero. I know you are, and I’m so grateful you are here.
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