unbroken, heal

The primary urge of your body is to heal.

To unleash the most kick-ass healing we’re capable of, we reclaim who we really are, healers in our own right. Already whole, operating according to the primary laws of our planet Earth: the dynamic principles of the human body. Right out of Earth’s playbook. Yes, we’re integral parts of her great web of life.

In my upcoming book, Unbroken: Remember Your Wholeness, we explore the three dynamic principles of the human body you most need to know:

  • The primary urge of your body is to heal.
  • Your body is innately wise.
  • Resilience (energy + strength + adaptability) is your birthright.

Let’s take a look at the first.

First law: The primary urge of your body is to heal.

You absolutely know this law of the Earth. You see it and experience it every day, you just didn’t know it applied to you because powerful cultural stories that became your stories disconnected you from your body and awareness of your own innate potential to heal. Stories that taught you when you hurt or suffer, you have “this disease,” that you need to be fixed. And that fix can only come from the experts you believe know you better than you do.

But look at the Earth. Doesn’t she astound us in how she recovers from the worst possible catastrophes without any intervention whatsoever? Violent storms, hurricanes, tornados, volcanic eruptions, and wildfires. They look like complete devastation, but in time transform miraculously. New landscapes emerge in ways we never expected. That blow our minds. How was that healing even possible? I have vivid memories of the double rainbow arching over my husband and I on a Hawaiian island lush with green hills and forest, our minds totally blown. That same island was once an uninhabitable barren volcanic lava field.

Not really miracles though, but what the Earth is designed to do. Nature heals no matter what. The new landscapes emerge no matter what. Her elements—the trees, grasses, animals, and waterways—only know healing. They rise to their very best equilibrium always. How they rise and what equilibrium they can achieve depends on what resources are there to support them—nutrients, sunlight, biodiversity.

This same law applies to all of us. We heal no matter what. Our own new landscapes emerge no matter what. We will always reach our best equilibrium given present circumstances—how well our healing is supported by the resources available to us and the condition of our personal terrain (more on the terrain in a bit).

By now you know healing isn’t a place where we land, right? It’s not a cure. It’s not the absence of suffering. It’s a process. It’s the process of our bodies doing their best with what they have. Our best equilibrium given present circumstances may not be what we’re fully capable of though.

With this understanding of our innate healing trajectory, suffering is an equilibrium. Pain and chronic illness are equilibria. While they may not be the best equilibria we’re fully capable of when all the support we need is there, they are still miraculous adaptations of our dynamically healing bodies to the energy and resources available to us in present time. This is why most of my clients rise to an equilibrium they’re happier with when, rather than try to “fix” them, we shift their present circumstances. We help them meet their unique needs for energy and resources, dialing in their terrain of healing to better support them. You will learn to do this too.

According to this law of the Earth, the primary urge of all nature, this transformative energy of healing, of achieving the best equilibrium given present circumstances, always operates within us, even when we’re not aware of it, even when we’re not consciously directing it, even when conditions aren’t perfect.

What is equilibrium?

In nature, equilibrium is the point of balance that stabilizes a system (an ecosystem, an organism) at its optimal state given all the forces acting upon it in a given moment. These “forces” are the available energy and resources balanced with the needs of the system.

For humans, just like in all nature, equilibrium is the point where our bodies-minds-spirits achieve the best possible balance given the available energy and resources to support our needs for function, growth, and healing. Sometimes this equilibrium point is elevating—it feels amazing to function at a high level of our potential. But if our energy is inadequate, if our resources can’t support robustness, the best equilibrium given present circumstances may also land us in pain, suffering, and illness, making it clear there are unmet needs, inadequate energy and resources, or forces working against us.

So often the “fixes” of biomedicine don’t understand or address the equilibrium that would best support our healing. The “fixes” are temporary or symptomatic, addressing “the disease,” or the outward manifestations of much deeper imbalances. They may ease our pain and suffering but don’t address the disequilibrium at the root cause level. They don’t replace or optimize the energy and resources we most need to heal sustainably.

Like the drugs that treat our despair but don’t look closely at what happened to us to engender the despair. Or like the drugs that relieve the discomfort of inflammation without addressing the antecedents, triggers, and mediators of the immune activation that caused our symptoms. Or the surgeries and drugs that remove our cancer (which we may need to survive) but don’t help us understand what made us vulnerable to having cancer in the first place.

This is what’s at stake when we hand ourselves over to modern biomedicine without placing our inner healer at the helm of our healing. To be clear, we don’t reject the treatments and strategies of biomedicine. Sometimes we need them. Sometimes they keep us alive to find our healing. Sometimes they’re essential parts of our healing. But when we’re savvy to the dynamic principles of the human body, the 21st century science of directable human potential (back to this in a bit), and the elements of our personal terrain, we’ll know how to heal at the deepest possible level. To shift into a new equilibrium of robust health. To move out of the equilibrium of illness and into the equilibrium of healing.



Karyn Shanks MD


Karyn Shanks, MD, is a physician who lives and practices in Iowa City. Her work is inspired by the revolutionary science of Functional Medicine, body-mind wisdom, and the transformational journeys of thousands of clients over her twenty-eight year career. She believes that the bones of healing are in what we do for ourselves.

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