How can chaos be healing?

Author: Dr. Quinte Naturopathic Centre on 23 November 2015

Today I have decided to share an interesting article that I found when organizing the many folders of papers that I have kept since naturopathic college. Considering recent events in the world I find it quite timely. It is titled “The Role of Chaos in Disease and Healing” by Richard H. Lee of the China Healthways Institute. I will warn you ahead of time, this is not exactly light reading.

How can chaos be healing? Chaos is often thought of as unpredictable and destabilizing. It is the enemy of structure and overturns the law of the land. How is it possible that chaos can be harnessed to serve us? As an example: When someone’s life is not working, when the basic order upon which they depend is failing them, and when they just want to run away, it may be time to “let go of life” in a way that nurtures the creation of a new order within which the world again makes sense.

Chaos is opportunity. Where there is rigid organization, there is little opportunity for restructuring. The best solutions often go ignored because their implementation would require destruction of some of the structure which holds an organization together. An organization which is flexible, receptive to new ideas, and free to adjust to changing circumstances, is willing to break down old structures for the sake of growth and efficiency. Structure provides for certainty. Chaos injects uncertainty. With a high degree of chaos, an organization can quickly adapt to strange and unfamiliar circumstances without being held back by the inertia of structure.

Within the human body, there is a great deal of structure. Physically we can have unnecessary chronic muscle tension, purposeless lumps, and other structures which don’t serve us. Emotionally, we can hold onto desires which repeatedly carry us down pathways of misery. Mentally, we can so fill ourselves with conflicting thoughts that we are unable to sleep and on the edge of nervous breakdown. Whenever a structure within us becomes inflexible, we experience pain. Blocked desire provides emotional pain, and conflicting world views cause mental pain. Flexibility allows us to face the unexpected with capability and enthusiasm. We can run from the path of an approaching car, or stop or pick up a dime. We can eat a bowl of bean sprouts and tofu as comfortably as a hamburger, attend a religious service of any denomination without concern for the clothing of our creator and be comfortable considering philosophies of strict child rearing alongside newsletters promoting chaos.

Random, unexpected events provide the chaos which exposes our rigidity, our unyielding habits, our crystallized beliefs. Sometimes these crystallized structures within us yield to the pressure but often they resist, sustaining the old ways despite conflicting forces and pain. And sometimes the strain even becomes so great that a person’s entire world view shatters. This can be a hugely transformative event.

The initial stress is experienced as pain, uncertainty, or fear of the unknown. We become desperate to avoid further stressing of the crystallized structure we hang on even tighter. Then the order governing our emotions and thoughts snaps, pops, or shatters. We burst into tears and watch as our life falls to shambles before our eyes, with seemingly nothing left for us to hang onto. We may feel an abrupt shift. Perhaps we experience an immediate release or an exhilarating feeling of freedom and relaxation. At other times, we find ourselves drowning in the unknown, trying to hang onto the structure which just crumbled, unwilling to relax and trust that a new better structure will form in its place. Sometimes we spend years trying to hang onto a crumbled, useless, and painful structure.

Chaos is an opportunity to restructure our beliefs, habits, physical bodies into a more flexible arrangement, more suitable to the unknown but anticipated future. Whenever we face a new situation, we have this opportunity. Every time we make a new choice or break an old habit, we increase our flexibility and expand our opportunities.

How do we nurture chaos? We start by looking for patterns which restrict our choices, consume our resources, and limit our beliefs. Watching TV, smoking, recounting past experiences or gossip, consuming countless grams of animal fats and alcohol, spending endless hours or repetition in a job or relationship. Changing these patterns may be quite painful because of deep and extensive crystallization, but the result will almost certainly be free time, vitality, new experiences, and an opportunity to make less restricted new choices. While choices made in anger are easiest, and often create more chaos, choices made with love usually provide a greater opportunity for growth. If shattering and reorganization occur within the emotion of anger, the new order will embody anger. If we immediately forgive and “love our enemy”, the new order within us will embody love and harmony.

I believe that our world is becoming more and more chaotic because our basic way of living is out of touch with natural laws. If we look at our health care system in particular we can see how we are unconsciously clinging to an old system that isn’t working for us. It is time for us to decide that our choices we make on a day to day basis with respect to food, activity, sunlight, sleep, work and relationships will affect our health more than we will ever know, and they are worth working on. It is worth the time, effort, and money to cultivate good habits.

Every day I meet patients who are at the precipice of a health crisis but I rarely meet someone who feels like it is a gift. Would you consider your personal health crisis a gift? Do you want to wait to find out?

Let’s start making different choices now so chaos doesn’t intervene.

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