Touchstones for Healing

I realized that the intro to the blog characterizes it as “wellness of mind, body, and whatever” but it’s been a lot of stuff about the process of therapy and sort of,”what is a therapist?” But if I’m going to lead off with “wellness,” what about wellness? First of all, I’m in the camp with Dr. Andrew Weill, who points out that the body’s natural tendency is toward healing and wellness. Get a cut, it heals. Microbes get in your system, the immune response handles it. According to one thing I heard on NPR, my body plays host to ten times as many virus particles, germs, & what-have-you as there are cells that are legitimately me. The whole, walking ecosystem is usually in balance. Likewise the psyche, I would venture to suggest.

I’ve had clients walk in, sit down, and say, “I’m miserably depressed. I’m suicidal. I don’t care about anything in this world.” Such a client may be well groomed, well dressed, may have gotten some good exercise in the past week, and is guilty about eating a cheeseburger instead of a salad. What fascinates me is that this is common. If someone didn’t care about anything in this world, why are they taking such good care of themselves? Because it doesn’t occur to them not to. Living in the same body with the depressed conscious mind is a nonverbal being who is healthy and tenacious of life.  Note that I don’t say this healthy being is unconscious. It’s just a part of the self that’s not being attended to. Here’s the good part: attending to this healthy part of ourselves can result in a greater subjective sense of well-being. It doesn’t mean that I’m not depressed, that I don’t have problems, but it does mean that my life is not globally trash, and it does mean that there’s something intrinsically good about me. One can find similar touchstones to wellness in other ways, too. For me, it’s usually nature. At this time of year, noting the green of the hills and the flowers blooming is huge. Even in the city, I can find hope in the way green things grow in the cracks in the pavement. If you think about it, you have your own touchstones to wellness, too. copyright James Matter, 2013


About jamesmatter

Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) in private practice in San Francisco. I work with adults, adolescents, and couples, with focus on substance use and abuse and co-occurring disorders (having both a mental illness and an addiction).
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