Transforming Your Practice

Declan Hammond LCH, ISHom

“In the healthy human state, the spirit-like life force that enlivens the material organism as dynamis, governs without restriction and keeps all parts of the organism in admirable, harmonious, vital operation, as regards feelings and functions, so that our indwelling, rational spirit can freely avail itself of this living, healthy instrument for the higher purposes of our existence.” Organon of Rational Healing, §9 – Samuel Hahnemann

I have often speculated on the above aphorism, written by Hahnemann over 160 years ago. How would his concept of the “higher purposes of our existence” compare with ours? One thing is certain, the reality of a homeopathic practice these days is a much more complex experience than it was in his times. As homeopaths we are frequently confronted with states of mind, experiences and diseases that go far beyond those written about in our traditional, classical texts. This article is written as a response to some of these challenges.

The Energy Question

Hahnemann’s quote describes a reality based on separation of material and its enlivening agent, the “spirit-like life force”, energy, otherwise referred to in our literature as “vital force”. However, modern physics and indeed most traditional shamanic worldviews, describe a very different reality; a reality that is entirely energetic; material organisms are themselves energetic, not enlivened by energy.

What we call material form is actually a particular manifestation of energy, perceivable by our material senses, inseparable from other less visible types of energy. The interaction of all these types of energy have been described and mapped out in great detail by cultures as diverse as the ancient Chinese and the Inca of South America.

Yet traditionally we work in homeopathy without any energy model. To work in the field of energy medicine, to prescribe remedies that act on our energy bodies, without a clear sense of energy anatomy and how these remedies act, is to seriously limit the effectiveness of our work.

Each remedy that we use homeopathically has a resonance for a particular part of a patient’s energy field and has a specific effect on one or more of the main energy centres. Understanding our remedies on this level allows us to prescribe them more accurately, to track their action and ultimately to speed up healing.

One of the implications of living in an energetic universe is that every being, animate or inanimate, is ultimately connected; our patients joined together with us in a synchronistic dance of healing. When they come to us, what they present to us, mirrors this connection. When we sit together with them, their energy fields and ours interact intimately with each other. Intimate knowledge and observation of our own energy anatomy, paying attention to its ebbs and flows as we engage in this dance, gives us direct access to our patients’ experience. Receiving their cases becomes much simpler and direct experience replaces stories and interpretation.

Cultivating the Power of Ritual

Early in my homeopathic career, I became fascinated by the ritual nature of the practitioner/patient relationship and by the healing power inherent in this ritual. Subsequent studies of traditional shamanic healing methods have deepened my understanding of what is possible to achieve and my patient interview has evolved out of this.

All traditional rituals are constructed with a combination of two things in mind - set and setting. The set is the combination of the participants’ expectations, awareness and intent. Setting is the context in which the ritual is performed.

Careful preparation of the setting is crucial for a successful outcome – in our case the patient’s healing. Preparation before the patient arrives involves clearing the space of any unnecessary objects, clutter, noise and unhelpful energies, leaving only that which is absolutely necessary for the work in hand. Everything left in the room should enhance the communication and flow of energy between practitioner and patient. Seating, lighting and room layout all combine to focus on the work in hand. Once appropriately prepared this setting is traditionally considered sacred.

The most effective set is a combination of clear conscious intent and constant mindfulness. Invoking the guidance and support of your teachers and if part of your belief system, spirit guides, is an invaluable part of empowering the healing intention.

This process is enhanced by inner and outer silence, leaving the practitioner with a heightened state of consciousness and all the senses sharpened.

Thus prepared, all that is left is to let go of any expectations, to trust that what has been prepared will bring the desired outcome and to have trust in the process.

Case taking/Journey

As practitioners we are trained to hear patients’ stories, to take the totality of their symptoms, to analyse them and to prescribe a remedy homeopathically. To do this we are advised to be “unprejudiced observers”, often implied to mean a kind of un-involved detachment, the practitioner observing silently while the patients tell their stories.

This is a model of practice derived from the so-called scientific approaches. However as the newer sciences (and the ancient wisdoms) have shown, we, the practitioners are an integral part of this picture. We are part of the totality and are affected, both consciously and unconsciously by what our patients bring to us.

To play our role in this, it is important to not to 'take our patients’ cases but to journey with them, sharing their stories. Maintaining our own integrity and boundaries we become homeopathic to them, staying flexible and creative. Hearing what is being said and more importantly, what is not being said but experienced energetically, is often the key to the patients’ experience.

Too often that experience is swamped in the language and drama of the stories. A simple and effective way to stay with this is to have the patient (and practitioner) maintain a continued body focus.

Paying attention to the main disturbance, where the energy is most intense or blocked, envisioning the sensations present and sharing the experience from there, provides a remarkably quick and accurate guide to what needs healing. Following the energy as it moves, having the patient continue to track their sensations will give a complete picture of their state remarkably quickly. Letting the energy body speak the simple language of sensations avoids all the obvious pitfalls of conventional case taking and provides a direct link to the language of our materia medica.

Although much of the language of our homeopathic ancestors, such as Hahnemann, needs updating, the challenge inherent in §9 resounds through the years. He spent 53 years in a continual attempt to find the most effective ways of using homeopathy, to heal the sick and to support them in their search for their “higher purpose”.

His spirit calls out to us, challenges us to continue this search.

Declan Hammond LCH, ISHom is a director & co-founder of The Irish School of Homoeopathy in Dublin where he practices and lives with his family.