© 2018, Allison Peacock/Lake Travis Integrative Medicine
At Lake Travis Integrative Medicine we realize that we are all dynamic, creative beings with a wide variety of histories, genetics, exposures, and lifestyles. This requires a non-linear, individualized approach to healing, as well as a balance between the advances of Western medicine and a completely Holistic mindset. In Integrative and Functional Medicine principles, it is impossible to heal the body without knowing, considering, and addressing your whole story. This is why Dr. Reardon takes up to two hours to get to know each new patient.
“An integrative approach means addressing not only our physical body,
but our energetic body as well.”
– Andrew Weil, MD
One of the foundations of our holistic style of practicing family medicine at Lake Travis Integrative Medicine is The Five Layers of Healing. This is Dr. Reardon’s version of an ancient healing model that was developed 12,000 years ago. This wisdom is what informs Tibetan Medicine, Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine.
The intricate degrees of connection between the various layers is of exquisite design. One helpful metaphor for envisioning these layers or levels is a set of Russian nesting dolls with your soul, or authentic self at the heart of the stack. As we start with the outermost basic layer, the Physical (the largest doll) and move inward revealing the smaller and smaller dolls, we get closer to the soul or true being.
In other words, our bodies make visible and tangible that which happens at the soul level. The inner workings of the five various dimensions of the human body is the basis for employing tools such as lifestyle medicine, epigenetics, neuroplasticity, energy medicine, mindfulness, and storytelling to get and stay well.
Here are the Five Layers of Health that that we consider when caring for our patients. How you use them to create new health depends upon your interests and what resonates for you.
The physical layer is the one we’re all most familiar with. The Physical Body is the foundation upon which everything else rests. It includes our internal organs and the physical structure, muscles and bones. It also includes dental health, the microbiome, and infections. This is what we all learned about the human body in biology class.
Modern western medical institutions have studied this level of health almost exclusively, essentially ignoring the other four. Integrative and Functional Medicine are improving what we know.
The Physical Body or Layer is highly affected by lifestyle, diet and exercise. Prescription drugs and nutritional supplements also work on this level. It is influenced by genetics and our environmental exposure. Other important considerations at this level are balancing the hormones and detoxification.
This is the electromagnetic field and the expression of physics in the body. It is the level of the vital, enlivening force which animates our physical senses and the operation of the physical body.
Said more poetically — the Energy Body allows the invisible indweller, our True Self to be able to animate in the external physical world.
The Energy Body includes the autonomic nervous system, the immune system and other systems that regulate the cells, tissues and structures of the Physical Body. Neuronal activities create currents and a magnetic field that is measurable outside the body.
The heart is the strongest magnetic field in the body, with the brain coming in second. Light in various waveforms and other electronic emissions such as electricity and wi-fi can interfere with the Energy Body. Recent trauma is also reflected at this level creating a disruption to the nervous and endocrine systems.
Modalities such as massage, acupuncture, neural retraining, and aromatherapy work on the Energy Body. Self-care such as laughter, spending time around moving bodies of water or connected to the earth, listening to music, meditation, and emotional release work also support this layer.
The Mental Body is the home of our thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes. There is an individual mental field as well as various consensus reality models that affect us at this level. For instance there is a “conventional medicine” consensus model as well as models for accepted beliefs in various political parties.
The main personal influences on this level are prenatal and childhood imprints and emotional epigenetics or inherited relationship traits.
The laws that govern the Mental Body are the simple natural rules that are gradually being rediscovered by modern psychotherapy. As physician Dietrich Klinghardt describes it, “nurture and love a child, provide it with opportunity to learn, keep it safe, nourished and warm. Each violation of these natural needs has consequences, leading to fairly predictable distortions.”
Today’s life isn’t always that simple. With institutionalized educational systems that don’t work for all learning types and stress in the family brought on by hectic lifestyles and pressure to perform, adaptive behaviors abound. Mental layer wounds or distortions happen for everyone, some more than others. These can manifest in the mind, as well as in our nervous and immune systems.
Other influences and tools on the Energy Body are the placebo effect and its shadow, nocebo. These clearly illustrate personal and group consensus beliefs. The body experiences what the mind believes. When patients in double-blinded clinical trials are warned about the side effects they may experience if they’re given the real drug, approximately 25% experience sometimes severe side effects, even when they’re only taking sugar pills.
This layer is also affected by general consensus reality. In other words, the negative messages we are fed constantly by newspapers, TV and Facebook truly can have a negative influence on our health. Regular intermittent mental stress can eventually create a downward causation on the Energy and Physical Bodies.
Modalities that work well in this dimension are hypnosis, mindfulness, homeopathy, psychotherapy, and guided imagery.
This is the non-local and often unconscious level of who we are. Not tied to local time and space, it consists of archetypal influences, unresolved family conflicts, and ancestral trauma. We might also find what some people call “past lives” or “curses” here. Said another way, these are unresolved unconsciously adopted distortions in our personal power and peace of mind.
The driving force behind issues at this level – as well as the one before it, the Mental level – is the longing to belong, the deep, unconscious archaic love of the child and the entanglements resulting from the violations of the natural order of things that we all experience.*
It is these simple desires that we all have in common as human beings – to be seen and to be loved that inform this layer of our health.
Sometimes we unconsciously adopt destructive patterns of anxiety, depression, anger, guilt, isolation, alcoholism and even illness as a way of belonging and relating to those we love. Likewise, we can also pick up unconscious thought patterns projected onto us without realizing it. This can happen with anyone from a long-forgotten overbearing childhood babysitter to an abusive relationship in our past, or an unethical teacher who mistreats the vulnerable trust of his student.
The goal of addressing stressors to our health in this layer is to access unconscious patterns, wounds, and stressors and bring them into conscious awareness. Learning to navigate between unconscious and conscious emotional and mental states is one of the most important tools for developing resiliency and robust self care.
We are each the product of two opposing natural forces: the repetition of familial and personal patterns from the past and the creation of new life and ideas for the benefit of the future. This is known as social or system homeostasis. You are the better future that your family, your tribe, and the world has been waiting for!
There are exciting and emerging modalities to address the Archetypal Body based on what we’re learning about the brain and genetics. Ancestral healing, earth-honoring spirituality, ritual work, family constellation work, and metagenealogy are a few of the techniques that can all generate profound healing results for the Archetypal layer.
This level, the highest layer or level of the body is very individual and very private. This is the layer of Self-Healing.
This Spiritual Body is related to our connection with the Divine and our Higher Self. Not affected by outside therapies, ethical healers and physicians don’t interfere at this level. Anyone who has experienced healing at this level will have an attitude of deep respect and understanding that it cannot be easily explained using language.
To explore the 5th level, turn inward. Don’t follow anyone else’s advice. Listen to your body and your own internal guidance. Create time and space to be alone and undistracted. And when you need support, consult a trusted and compassionate physician, minister, or spiritual healer as sacred witness.
One caution here is to be mindful of avoiding relentless spiritual exploration without balance in the other layers of your health. The pain and necessary healing work on other aspects is often avoided by involving ourselves in extensive spiritual practices that never seem to resolve the real issues. Like all of the layers, a balanced relationship is the most powerful way to work with the Spiritual Body.
For more inspiration on self-care and healthy lifestyle, download Dr. Julie’s free ebook!
Using the 5 Layers of Healing as a blueprint for utterly holistic self-care, the three most important recommendations we make to our clients and patients are:
1) Focus as much time and attention to the lower 3 layers that you can.
This means to eat right, sleep well, exercise regularly and employ healthy recovery practices afterwards, take supplements as needed for any current deficiencies or genetic traits such as poor methylatation or low iron.
Also, nurture your energy body with massage, acupuncture, spending time in near running water or the ocean, walk barefoot on the earth as much as possible, listen to good music or guided visualizations. Minimize media and screen time.
Work with a trusted spiritual wellness practitioner or therapist to navigate any confusion or unresolved mental or emotional conflicts.
2) Choose to look at the whole picture of your wellness.
This requires finding medical providers that support ALL of you. We believe physician-led Integrative Medicine is the best way to accomplish this. This means don’t shortchange yourself by looking only at the prescription that the rushed urgent care doctor has time to write to manage your symptoms.
It also means not to throw out modern medicine just because we’re in a pickle right now and it’s so dysfunctional. Or because you don’t like doctors.
Beware of any holistic, integrative, or functional practitioner that discourages you from seeing a medical doctor. Look for physicians who are kind and who take the time to listen to your needs, and who will help you incorporate other modalities into your overall plan. Certainly not one who will fight you or make fun of you for wanting to change your diet, for instance, or try a supplement regimen instead of a prescription.
3) Don’t give up on healing your own family.
Everyone has the potential to heal, even if your history is fraught with conflict or abuse. (In this case, it may not be necessary to face your abuser. Get professional support for this kind of healing if needed.) Always heal yourself first. And referring to the 5th layer, follow your spiritual awareness about this step.
If you’re able, focus your intention that there is love and respect between everyone in your own generation. If you’re lucky enough to have the two previous generations still living, give those relationships loving attention as well. If unable to do this in person, do it through journaling, healing ritual, altar work, or prayer.
“Family” is a broad term that includes children who died young, spouses or parents missing after a divorce, birth parents and siblings of adoptive children, mothers that died in childbirth and grandfathers that died at war. This type of healing involves relating and communicating with everyone that is alive, if possible, and holding a loving memory of those who are not. Ancestral healing is a powerful tool for family healing. By healing the past we create a healthier future for ourselves and for our descendants.
Finally, don’t forget that unconditional love is life’s most powerful healer. Our holistic and integrative model of family medicine is based on this core belief. Lake Travis Integrative Medicine has gained a wide reputation for the love and care we provide for each and every patient that walks through our doors.
We believe that love heals.
*The 5 Levels of Healing, Dietrich Klinghardt, MD, PhD, Explore! Volume 14, Number 4, 2005