Sacred Medicine – Where Spirituality and Health Intersect

If you’ve ever tried to set a health goal, you know how frustrating it can be. You try to lose weight – and then it doesn’t happen. You do a detox cleanse with the goal of reducing the symptoms of a chronic illness – and you wind up even sicker. You spend a fortune on alternative medicine cures, and your illness doesn’t budge.

It’s enough to make you pull your hair out.

Set Goals, But Release Attachment To Outcomes

I always encourage my clients to set goals, do everything they can to achieve those goals, and then let go…

I believe that while we can make the body ripe for miracles, we must accept that, when it comes right down to it, we simply can’t control the outcome. Yes, we can eat well, exercise, avoid toxic exposures, get enough sleep, and follow doctor’s orders. We can also be healthy in other aspects of our lives by addressing the stress-inducing factors that can predispose the body to illness – factors like alleviating loneliness, reducing work stress, and actively making efforts to be happier.

As I teach about in my TEDx talk, I’m a firm believer in balancing your “Whole Health Cairn“. When you do, the scientific data proves that you make the body ripe for miracles. But even so, some people who do everything “right” to optimize the health of the body wind up still sick.

Why Some Get Sick & Others Stay Healthy

Why? As it turns out, other factors seem to be at play. Call it self-sabotaging unconscious beliefs, call it lack of self-esteem, call it karma, call it divine will, or call it cellular degeneration, it’s a known fact that we’re all going to die one day and some of us will get sick along the way. Heartbreakingly, some of those people will be innocent newborns. Some will be blameless 6 year olds. Some will be mothers with three young children who have a brain aneurysm that bursts during labor, leaving a father to raise the children alone. Some will suffer from the effects of a toxic waste dump they unwittingly lived near. Some will die of congenital anomalies with which they were born. Some were Jews in a Holocaust. Some were Tutsis in Rwanda. And some are 97 year old scoundrels, having buried everyone they know.

While I believe miracles are always possible, sometimes cure simply doesn’t happen. We must make peace with this fact. But when we mix faith, love, gratitude, intention, self-care, and Divine intervention in a Petri dish with healing of self-limiting, unconscious beliefs, we pave the way for seemingly miraculous spontaneous remissions. By healing your mind and your life, you create the perfect environment for cure, even in the most unlikely of circumstances. And if cure isn’t meant to happen, healing allows you to live with illness or die in a state of grace.

Guilt, blame, shame, and fault-finding have no place in the healing process, whereas personal responsibility, self-forgiveness, and embracing illness as an opportunity to learn from the body do. That said, even when you accept personal responsibility, shift limiting beliefs, diagnose the real reason you’re sick, prescribe the right treatment for yourself, and do everything “right,” there’s a chance you will stay sick – and it has nothing to do with “fault.”

The Spiritual Path Of Illness

When it comes right down to it, I believe we have choice and free will. Our destinies are not fixed and unmovable, and we are not the victims of some punishing deity. We can affect the outcome of our lives by the courageous, miracle-making actions we take. But when it comes right down to it, we simply can’t control our lives. Herein lies the art of surrender.

We can make efforts to heal ourselves. We can control parts of our lives, but at some point, after we’ve done what we can to make our bodies ripe for miracles, it’s out of our hands. We must let go.

If you dream of being cured from an illness or simply want to optimize your already good health, call upon the Divine. Make your desires known. Ask for what you need. Accept personal responsibility and do your part. Set goals but release attachment to outcomes. Then leap off the cliff, have faith in the process, and trust that you’ll have peace when you either land gently or learn that you can fly.

When You Try To Seize Control Of Your Life

It took me decades to learn these lessons, not just as they relate to illness, but as they relate to life. One of my most eloquent teachers was Dr. Christiane Northrup. When I was in the midst of my first twenty city book tour, I found myself spiraling down into a particularly dark spot of self-doubt, fear, and limiting beliefs, so I reached out to my friend Regena Thomashauer (aka “Mama Gena“), looking for guidance. Regena called Dr. Northrup who said, “Lissa is brilliant at DOING, but she needs to learn how to RECEIVE. Lissa needs to learn to be less sperm, more egg. This is Lissa’s dark night of the soul, and while I might be able to help her, I don’t want to keep her from learning this soul lesson.”

It wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear. But holy moly. Dr. Northrup was right!

I wrote a letter to Dr. Northrup and thanked her for her eggy wisdom. She wrote back and said, “Of course you are a do-er. There’s no way to get through a surgical residency if you’re not. But then, in order to thrive, we find that what got us to where we are will kill us if we continue! And you’re coming up on the developmental stage where the doing will really bite you in the ass if you don’t learn to receive.”

Be Less Sperm, More Egg 

What Dr. Northrup said grabbed me in the heart. Everything within me screamed, “Yes!”

As I wrote about here, I’m a master at being spermy. Give me a set of action steps that need to be accomplished, and I’m on it lickety-split. Consider it done. Being spermy became an adaptive mechanism for me. At one point in my life, it served me well and allowed me to survive my medical education, which gave me the gift of teaching me what I needed to learn in order to understand the nine truths I’ve written about in my upcoming book.

But I came to realize, with Dr. Northrup’s guidance, that this adaptation no longer served me. Ever since, I’ve made efforts to balance my spermyness and my eggyness in all aspects of my life. Like the yin and yang of masculine and feminine, both are equally necessary.

Do The “Ass in Chair” Work

I usually start with being spermy. Do what you can to heal your negative beliefs about your health. Diagnose why you’re really sick. Research which doctor to see. Assemble your team. Make the call. Read about your health condition online. Buy the juicer. Do the green juice cleanse. Order the supplements. Say the prayer. Rally your support network. Ask for what you need. Send the e-mail. Write The Prescription based on how your Inner Pilot Light guides you.

Do the “ass in chair” work of making your body ripe for miracles. Change your diet. Repair your relationships. Release resentments. Get in touch with your life purpose. Figure out what’s true for you about your sex life. Express yourself creatively. Say a prayer and express your desire for the perfect marriage of healing and curing.

Miracle, Find Me Now!

But once you’ve done all your spermy work, it’s time to be the egg. My friend SARK is an egg goddess. She closes her eyes, puts out her hands, palms to heaven, and says, “Miracle, find me now.”

Once, when she was financially strapped with no idea how she was going to pay for food, she did just that. Standing on the streets of San Francisco, she closed her eyes, placed her palms up, and six $100 bills literally blew into her hands. (Yes, she did wait hours to see if any more would blow by!)

It’s All About Trust

Being the egg is about sitting back and waiting, trusting that you’ve done what you can to make miracles likely and that whatever is meant to happen will happen in divine timing in just the perfect way. Being the egg requires releasing fear and tapping into your faith. The two can’t coexist. Fear is the opposite of faith. When you choose to let one rule, the other fades away.

If you let fear rule you, you’ll likely wind up panicking when you try to be eggy. You’ll convince yourself you need to try harder. Be more sperm. It’s easy to get caught up in sperm mode 24/7.  But when you’ve done your sperm work and you surrender to being the egg, magical things begin to unfold. Miracles find you in the most unlikely ways.

Healing yourself requires being both the sperm and the egg. When you’ve first done the sperm work of making your body ripe for miracles and then surrendered into your eggyness, the outcome is out of your hands. At that point, what happens is not your fault.

Are You Balancing Eggy & Spermy?

Have you done what you can to live an optimally healthy, happy life? Are you able to let go when you’ve done what you can?

Tell us your stories.

Still trying to be more eggy,


Lissa Rankin, MD: Creator of the health and wellness communities and,author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself (Hay House, 2013), TEDx speaker, and Health Care Evolutionary.

Join her newsletter listfor free guidance on healing yourself, and check her out on Twitter and Facebook

I was first introduced to Louise Hay’s work when I was still a busy doctor in a conventional medical practice, and a patient handed me a little book that led me to raise my eyebrow. It was called You Can Heal Your Life. The premise of the book, which has now sold over 40 million copies, is that every physical ailment results from disordered thinking and can be cured by replacing negative thought patterns with positive ones.

For example, if you have a fever, the probable cause is “Anger. Burning up.” And the cure is a new thought pattern: “I am the cool, calm expression of peace and love.”

With all due respect to the wonderful, generous, brilliant, pioneering Louise Hay, whose company Hay House is now the publisher of my upcoming book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself, my first thought when I skimmed her book a few years back was “Bullsh*t.”

After all, anyone with a medical degree knows that fever is caused by cytokines and other pyrogens in the bloodstream that release prostaglandins and trigger the hypothalamus to turn up the heat, most commonly in response to infection. Who ever heard of anger causing a fever? Hogwash.

But in spite of my critical inner voice, something drove me to keep reading. According to Louise Hay, cancer, on the other hand, represents “Deep hurt. Long-standing resentment. Deep secret or grief eating away at the self. Carrying hatreds. ‘What’s the use?’” According to Louise, the cure is the affirmation “I lovingly forgive and release all of the past. I choose to fill my world with joy. I love and approve of myself.”

And here I thought cancer was caused by cellular mutations that lead to unregulated growth of abnormal cells, usually because of environmental factors!

Just for giggles, I looked up the probable cause of my high blood pressure.  When I read the probable cause – “Long-standing emotional problem not solved” and the solution – “I joyously release the past. I am at peace,” I shook my head. Nope. Not my problem. I closed the book and stuck in on a shelf, where it sat untouched, for six more years. 

Louise Hay’s Cancer 

Not until I was deep in the midst of my research into what really makes us healthy and what predisposes us to illness did I pick up You Can Heal Your Life again. This time, I read the whole book, cover to cover. I found myself riveted.

When Louise Hay found out she had cervical cancer, she questioned how her thinking might have affected her health and caused her cancer. She had been studying the metaphysical philosophies of 1920’s-era teachers like Francis Scovel Schinn, author of The Game of Life And How To Play It, who taught that you could change your life and attract positive life outcomes by repeating affirmations meant to alter your thinking.

Louise concluded that her cervical cancer was caused by her unwillingness to let go of resentment over her childhood abuse and rape, and believing she could cure herself, she chose to refuse medical treatment.  Instead of pursuing conventional treatment for cancer, she treated herself with a regimen of forgiveness, therapy, nutrition, reflexology and occasional enemas.

She used what she learned in her own self-healing journey to write You Can Heal Your Life, in which Louise Hay provides a complete list of physical symptoms and illnesses, along with the disordered thinking she believes causes these health conditions. She then offers a new thought pattern affirmation meant to be adopted as healing treatment. 

How Our Beliefs Affect Our Health

After researching Mind Over Medicine and interviewing people like Dr. Bruce Lipton, author of The Biology of Belief, I discovered the truly powerful link between our beliefs and our physiology. Placebo effect data demonstrates that if bald men believe they’re getting Rogaine, a percentage of them will grow hair. If we believe we’re getting a drug for irritable bowel syndrome, our symptoms will improve. If we believe we got real knee surgery when we only got a little incision with a scalpel, we’re just as likely to experience resolution of the knee pain than if we got the real surgery.

Placebo’s opposite twin – the nocebo – demonstrates that negative beliefs are just as powerful. If you inject people with saline and tell them it’s chemotherapy, they throw up and lose their hair. For real. I’m not making this sh*t up.

One patient with multiple personality disorder was diabetic with one of her personalities and not diabetic with her others. When she switched to the diabetic personality, her blood sugars shot up. Clinically, she was diabetic. When she switched back, her blood sugars dropped. I’m serious, y’all…. 

What Do You Believe About Your Health?

You know what that means, right? What you believe about your health manifests in real life. Do you believe you’re a sickly person? That you’ll get breast cancer because your mother did?  That you’ll always have this “chronic” disease that is “incurable?” That you’ll never lose the weight/be free from depression/kick the habit/recover from the eating disorder/achieve optimal health?

What you believe comes true, at least a percentage of the time. Don’t you want to be careful what you think?

I don’t believe it’s just your negative beliefs that set you up for illness or your positive beliefs that cure you. I think illness is much more complicated and multi-factorial than that. I believe illness is also caused by your work stress, your loneliness, your environment, your DNA, your diet, how much you exercise, and a whole host of other factors.

But, without a doubt, diagnosing the root causes that might be underlying your illness and using affirmations and other belief-shifting practices to heal your mind of negative beliefs is a critical part of the healing process.

What do you think? What are your beliefs about your health? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Focusing on positive beliefs,


Lissa Rankin, MD: Creator of the health and wellness communities and,author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself (Hay House, 2013), TEDx speaker, and Health Care Evolutionary.

Join her newsletter listfor free guidance on healing yourself, and check her out on Twitter and Facebook

Like everyone else, sometimes I get angry, hold grudges, find it tempting to feel resentful, and have to pull out the F word – forgiveness. 

This isn’t so easy when it comes to forgiving my abusive ex-husband or the surgery professor who threw a bloody scalpel at me.

But then I think of what other people have forgiven, and I feel pretty dang petty.

Forgiveness in Rwanda 

As she writes about in her bestselling memoir Left To Tell, in 1994, during the Rwandan genocide, Immaculée Ilibagiza a Tutsi – escaped to the broom closet-sized bathroom of a sympathetic Hutu, where she lived for 91 days with seven other women while her family was systematically exterminated by the Hutu neighbors who had only days earlier been friends. Only she and one of her brothers survived the rape, torture, dismemberment, and murder committed by the angry Hutus in her village.

While hiding in the bathroom, Immaculée survived through prayer, which she believes kept her alive through her time in a refugee camp and protected her against Hutus who almost killed her just as she was almost free.

Years later, working for the United Nations, protected by diplomatic immunity, Immaculée returned for the first time to her village, where the Hutu man believed to have killed her family was imprisoned. The prison guards ushered Immaculée into the jail and forced the killer to stand in front of her. Immaculée was invited to spit on him, hit him, yell at him – to inflict whatever revenge she needed in order to put her past to rest.

But in that jail cell, Immaculée said only, “I forgive you.” And the man began to weep.

Immaculée is now devoting her life to teaching forgiveness, especially to the children orphaned by violence during the genocide. Her goal is to stop the cycle of vengeance and vendettas, replacing all that hatred with love, peace, and faith.

Forgiving Incest 

Claire was molested by her father throughout most of her childhood. She ran away from home when she was 15 and turned to drugs, prostitution, and other criminal behaviors, until she landed in a hospital, almost died, and hit rock bottom. The woman she calls her “angel” nursed her back to health, and in the process, she taught her that the medicine that would help her reclaim her health was forgiveness; that holding onto the pain her father inflicted upon her would only hurt her.

Just recently, Claire’s father fell ill, and after years of forgiveness practice, meditation, and personal growth work, Claire decided she was strong enough in her own sense of self to move back home to care for her father while he died.  His final words to her were, “I don’t deserve you, but I’m so grateful you’re here.”

An Exercise In Forgiveness 

In their brilliance and radiance, Immaculée and Claire knew that holding onto the poison of hatred against those who hurt you will only toxify the soul. While you may not be ready to go face to face with the person who hurt you, you can always make peace in your soul.

Try sitting quietly in meditation and allowing yourself to dissolve into pure spirit, that highest self within you that I call your Inner Pilot Light. Then invite the Inner Pilot Light of the person who hurt you to have a conversation with you.  Even when we make terrible mistakes, at our essence, we are all part of Divine light and love. Our human selves may have screwed up big time, but our spirits are whole and perfect and tapped into a universal consciousness that is pure, radiant love. That’s the part of this person you want to communicate with, from that equally sparkly, whole part of yourself – soul to soul.

We all hold within us sparks of divinity, so go there.  From that place of peace and wholeness, let yourself share whatever comes up. Unload anything you need to vent. Allow the other person’s spirit to explain anything that spirit wants you to know. Spend as much time as you need in order to see past the masks we all wear to cover up our Inner Pilot Lights. Dissolve your bodies and commune as pure spirits.

From that place, with enough practice, you will be able to forgive. And when you do, you will be free. Only from that place of freedom can true, lasting healing happen, not just in the body, but in the mind and spirit. 

Who Do You Need To Forgive? 

The path to peace, love, and life, full of what I like to call “mojo” (MOre JOy), requires releasing the anger, resentment, and other toxic emotions we carry in our bodies, emotions which, left unchecked, manifest as physical and mental illness.

Once we heal those emotions through acts of forgiveness, we can tap into unbridled bliss, knowing we are no longer slaves to those feelings. Instead, we are liberated to dance our way through life, sprinkling in cartwheels and fairy dust and the occasional piece of raw chocolate.

Are you brave enough to forgive?

Inspired by those who can,


Lissa Rankin, MD: Creator of the health and wellness communities and,author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself (Hay House, 2013), TEDx speaker, and Health Care Evolutionary.

Join her newsletter listfor free guidance on healing yourself, and check her out on Twitter and Facebook

The medicine most of us hunger for does not come in a capsule or an injection. You won’t find it at most doctor’s offices, though perhaps you should.  The order for it isn’t written on a prescription pad or called into the pharmacy. You won’t find it in hospitals, at least not the way you might expect.

But it’s there, in the hospitals and doctor’s offices, poking through the white coats and IV bags, if you know how to spot it.

What Is The Medicine?

It’s intimacy, not just the romantic kind, but the kind you can experience with anyone when two people tear down the walls so many of us build and open their hearts to each other.

Intimacy and soulful connection treat the pervasive loneliness many people experience, and the scientific literature has proven that social isolation and loneliness harm your health.

Lonely people have also been shown to have higher rates of heart disease, breast cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and suicidal thoughts. Loneliness even affects mortality rates after coronary artery bypass surgery. A Swedish study examining 1,290 patients undergoing heart surgery found that patients who agreed with the statement “I feel lonely” had significantly higher mortality rates post-operatively.

When people are sick, they are at their most vulnerable, and when we are at our most vulnerable, we have a potent opportunity to experience intimacy with others. Stripped of our masks, our egos, our sense of safety, and our comfort zone, we lie, like exposed nerves, ready to feel deeply. From this place of vulnerability, we have a choice. We can strap on our defenses, for fear of getting hurt, or we can use illness as an opportunity for intimacy, connection, and spiritual awakening.

How To Treat The Loneliness

Doctors, nurses, and other health care providers have the opportunity to play a healing role in alleviating loneliness in patients. The health care provider who says to the patient with cancer, “You will not go through this alone” and really means it arguably offers something more precious than surgery or chemotherapy.

And the team of ten BFFs who gather together wearing clown noses and spraying Silly String, as they help you celebrate cutting off and pulling out your hair before the chemo can complete the job are more valuable than any vitamin.

If you’re battling an illness, you won’t fully heal if you try to make the healing process a solo job. Yes, the body has an infinite capacity for self-repair. As demonstrated in the Spontaneous Remission Project, people have cured their own cancers, transformed themselves from HIV+ to HIV-, recovered from gunshot wounds to the head without treatment, and cured any number of “incurable” diseases. So yes, I believe you can heal yourself (and I’m writing a book that will be published in April 2013 with Hay House about all the scientific proof I’ve found that proves how this happens). But “healing yourself” is a bit of a misnomer. Because while healing yourself is an inside job and only you can do it, you can’t do it alone. It takes a village of people who will hold the sacred space for your self-healing journey.

Loneliness & Longevity

If you’re not sick, alleviating loneliness is preventative medicine. One study examining the people of Alameda County, California found that, in every age and sex category, people with the fewest social ties were 3 times more likely to have died over a 9 year period than those who reported the most social ties, even when you account for preexisting health conditions, socioeconomic status, smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity, race, life satisfaction, physical activity, and use of preventive health services.   Those with more social connections were even found to have lower rates of cancer.

So if you’re lonely and long to extend your life, what can you do?

How To Alleviate Loneliness

The key to alleviating loneliness is twofold. First, you must be willing to expose your imperfections, even when you feel pressured by society to be impossibly perfect. As Brene Brown teaches in The Gifts of Imperfection, intimacy comes from exposing your vulnerabilities, allowing people to see your imperfections, and bonding from the connection we feel with others who are imperfect like us.

Repressing the REAL YOU has been scientifically proven to make you sick, (being authentically vulnerable) and feeling seen and still loved when you expose your authentic self to another person is profoundly healing.

The second key is learning to keep your heart open, even in the face of serial heartbreak. So many of us have a knee jerk response to getting hurt that leads us to close our hearts in order to protect ourselves. By building walls, we erect barriers to intimacy, making it impossible for us to fully give or receive love from anyone, since these walls tend not to be selective. They’re all or nothing. When they’re erected, nobody fully gets inside them.

In order to attract true intimacy with friends, family members, and romantic partners, we must be willing to give people permission to break our hearts.  When we’re not willing to get our hearts broken, we wind up safe, but lonely.

Do You Give People Permission To Break Your Heart?

Are you taking the medicine we all need? Do you feel intimate with the people in your life? Tell us your stories. I love hearing from you.

Always prescribing love,


Lissa Rankin, MD: Creator of the health and wellness communities and,author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself (Hay House, 2013), TEDx speaker, and Health Care Evolutionary. 

Join her newsletter list for free guidance on healing yourself, and check her out on Twitter and Facebook .