The Art of Healing

Uncovering Your Inner Wisdom and Potential for Self-Healing


with Cynthia J. Hurn

1. Mental healing. 2. Consciousness. 3. Spiritual healing. 4. Mind and body. 5. Self-care, Health.

BY BERNIE S. SIEGEL, MD 101 Exercises for the Soul 365 Prescriptions for the Soul A Book of Miracles Faith, Hope & Healing Help Me to Heal How to Live between Office Visits Love, Magic & Mudpies Love, Medicine & Miracles Peace, Love & Healing Prescriptions for Living CHILDREN’S BOOKS Buddy’s Candle Smudge Bunny
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Book Details
 243 p
 File Size 
 3,340 KB
 File Type
 PDF format
 978-1-60868-186-0 (ebook)
 2013 by Bernie S. Siegel, MD

About Us
Bernie S. Siegel, MD, is a well-known proponent of integrative and holistic
approaches to healing that heal not just the body but also the mind and soul.
Bernie, as his friends and patients call him, attended Colgate University and
studied medicine at Cornell University Medical College. His surgical training
took place at Yale–New Haven Hospital, West Haven Veterans Hospital, and the
Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. In 1978 Bernie pioneered a new approach to
group and individual cancer therapy called Exceptional Cancer Patients (ECaP),
which utilized patients’ drawings, dreams, and feelings, and he broke new
ground in facilitating important patient lifestyle changes and engaging the
patient in the healing process.
Bernie retired from his general and pediatric surgical practice in 1989.
Always a strong advocate for his patients, he has since dedicated himself to
humanizing the medical establishment’s approach to patients and empowering
patients to play a vital role in the process of self-induced healing to achieve their
greatest potential. He continues to run support groups and is an active speaker,
traveling around the world to address patient and caregiver groups. As the author
of several books — including Love, Medicine & Miracles; Peace, Love &
Healing; How to Live between Office Visits; 365 Prescriptions for the Soul;
Faith, Hope & Healing; and A Book of Miracles — Bernie has been at the
forefront of spiritual and medical ethics issues of our day. He has been named
one of the top twenty Spiritually Influential Living People by Watkins’ Mind
Body Spirit magazine (London). Bernie and his wife (and occasional coauthor),
Bobbie, live in a suburb of New Haven, Connecticut. They have five children,
eight grandchildren, four cats, two dogs, and much love. Visit his website at

Freelance writer and editor Cynthia J. Hurn is a coauthor of the nonfiction
book No Buddy Left Behind: Bringing U.S. Troops’ Dogs and Cats Safely
Home from the Combat Zone. Her studies in psychology, counseling, and
creative writing, plus her work with animals and rescued wild birds, bring a
unique mixture of science, heart, and soul to her writing.

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And therefore, if the head and body are to be well, you must begin by curing the
soul; that is the first thing.

Yesterday I went to get my driver’s license renewed. I anticipated lines and the
usual long wait with everybody wishing they could get out of there, so I
wasn’t looking forward to it. But soon after I arrived, a woman at the counter
called my number. I looked around, surprised. Many of these people had waited
much longer than I had; it had to be somebody else’s turn. But she called out my
number a second time, so I went up.
As soon as I got to the counter, a smile of recognition spread across her face.
It turned out that I had operated on her mother many years ago. We had such a
wonderful time talking and she shared how well her mother was doing. When I
left she was still thanking me for helping her mother to heal. She wasn’t
referring to the surgery or the chemotherapy. She was talking about her mother’s
life. Imagine that. It wasn’t about her physical body or the disease; it was about
the things that made her mother’s life meaningful. When I left there, I felt so
good. Our meeting had not been an accident or by chance. It was a gift. There
are no coincidences.
What I am about to share — what led me to a new understanding of the
nature of life — stems not from my beliefs but from my personal experience and
my work with patients and their families. My attitude of keeping an open mind
allowed me to gain much more from my experiences and become a better healer
than those in the profession who say they can’t accept what they can’t
understand or explain. If we don’t seek knowledge, we don’t learn; we lose the
opportunity to live our lives in a creative way. So I never stopped asking the
important questions. What do I mean by the important questions?
The questions we must ask are: How does the invisible become visible?
What part of our being still sees when we leave our physical body in a neardeath
experience? How do we intuitively know what plans our unconscious
mind is creating? How do clairvoyants and psychics communicate with people
and animals, whether distant or dead? How does the community of cells in the
body speak to the conscious mind about its needs and health? And what is the
language of creation and the soul?
The invisible I talk about is what lies within our physical, mental, emotional,
and psychic body. Most of us become aware of our inner harmony or
disharmony through moods, feelings, and symptoms, and we rely on medical
examinations and lab tests to know what is happening inside the body. But
imagine if we were able to know before a physical affliction or emotional
breakdown awakened us. How much healthier we would be and how much fuller
our lives would become. Because of physicians’ limited medical training, rarely
do we have the option to learn about the true cause of disease. And yet it is
possible to prevent disease and emotional breakdown.
If we take the lid off our unconscious, we can be guided by a deeper
knowing. The practices and techniques of going within allow us to communicate
with and learn from the greater intelligence, whether we choose to do so through
spontaneous drawings, dreams, meditation, breath work, or any number of
practices that place us within the healing realm of our inner wisdom.
Communication with the greater intelligence is not only possible, but it also
happens all the time whether we are aware of it, and tuned into it, or not. The
same intelligence that allows cells to communicate inside the human body is
inherent in all life-forms. It is characterized by its fluidity and moves with both
intention and abandon, crossing all barriers of matter, time, and space. It serves
us in ways that often seem like coincidence. Unexplained happenings, healings,
and lifesaving or comforting messages appear just at the moment you need them,
as happened to me yesterday, when my wait to renew my driver’s license was cut
short and ended with the gift of gratitude.
To be receptive to this communication, whether it comes to you through
symbols or words, you must quiet your mind, like a still pond, with no
turbulence to obscure its reflections. Today was a good example. I’m the
caregiver for my wife, Bobbie, who has been living with multiple sclerosis for
several decades. There are days when I have my hands so full of caregiving and
other responsibilities that everything seems overwhelming. It’s a challenge
sometimes to love my fate and learn the lesson of compassion. While devoting
most of my life to healing people, I have encouraged them to care for themselves
as well as they do for others. But living the sermon can be hard to do when
you’re providing long-term care for someone you love. It’s easy to forget that
you too have needs.
This morning, I took the dogs for a walk in one of my favorite places. The
cemetery near our house is several centuries old. It’s out in the suburbs, and
rarely do I meet anybody there, unless it’s the anniversary of somebody’s death
or a funeral is taking place. Because the cemetery is so peaceful, I can let the
dogs run around. For me, it’s like a walking meditation, and for them it’s an
adventure. Dogs are masters of living in the moment. Today the dogs discovered
something on the ground, not close to a grave but lying beside the road. I went
over and picked it up. It was a tiny white teddy bear with the message Love Me
on its chest. The bear was as clean and unmarked as if it had just come off the
store shelf. I looked around the cemetery; there wasn’t a person in sight. I read
the words again out loud: Love Me. I felt as if somebody had put it there
knowing that this was the message I needed. It was such a gift. I put the bear in
my pocket and took it home.
Apparent coincidences like this one happen exactly when they are most
needed. When you allow yourself quiet moments, you increase the opportunity
to receive messages of love and support. The little bear now sits on the kitchen
counter with other teddy bears I have found. I create shrines with them in our
home to give me therapy all day long.
The language of creation and the soul is expressed in many ways, sometimes
in a subtle whisper, other times spoken so clearly, it is difficult to doubt, let alone
ignore. I used to be a skeptic because I didn’t know any better. I wasn’t trained to
look through any other lens. But over time, I learned to open my mind to other
kinds of communication and possibilities. I have had an animal intuitive locate
our lost cat in Connecticut while she sat in California. I have had a near-death
experience and, through this, learned that we are more than our bodies. I have
had past-life experiences and had messages from dead patients delivered to me
through mediums. I have even heard the voices of the dead speak to me. I did not
seek any of these experiences, but I have lived them. Rather than deny the reality
of these occurrences on the basis that I could not understand them, I sought, like
astronomers and physicists, to accept what I experienced, explore the invisible,
and communicate with it.
The psychotherapist Ernest Rossi has observed that “our daily and hourly
life experiences, sensations, thoughts, images, emotions and behavior can
modulate gene expression and neurogenesis in ways that actually can change the
physical structure and functioning of our brain.”1 What he meant is that your
mind is like a remote control with an infinite number of channels to choose from
(the greater consciousness), and your body is like the TV screen that plays
whichever channels you tune in to. If you limit yourself to the channels accepted
by your peers, your life will be all about staying within the boundaries of their
discipline, and your measure of success will be based on the amount of
recognition you have achieved. In other words, if you pay attention to the money
channel rather than the spiritual channel, your life becomes all about material
things, and your measure of success is based on what you have accumulated. If
you pay attention to the spiritual channel, your life then focuses on improving
the world, and your measure of success is based on what you have done to
enhance life. You are no longer governed by social, political, and religious rules
and regulations. Your life, which was God’s gift to you, becomes your gift to
God through your actions.
Consciousness can be experienced as a universal field that affects us all, and
studies by quantum physicists have verified this. Books such as The
Psychobiology of Gene Expression, by Rossi, give insight to the process by
which the universal mind works. Rossi refers to a form of intelligence that
communicates through changes in our genes. He writes, “This special class of
genes [immediate early genes] can respond to psychosocial cues and significant
life events in an adaptive manner within minutes. Immediate early genes have
been described as the newly discovered mediators between nature and nurture:
they receive signals from the environment to activate genes that code for the
formation of proteins, which then carry out the adaptive functions of the cell in
health and illness. Immediate early genes integrate mind and body; they are key
players in psychosomatic medicine, mind-body healing, and the therapeutic
If you have trouble believing that genes can act to communicate important
messages that initiate immediate survival responses, think about how bacteria
learn to resist antibiotics, viruses resist antivirals, the wounds of living things
heal, living things resist parasites, and more. All of these processes require a
form of intelligence that grasps the situation and then communicates a desired
response to the rest of the body’s cells. And this needs to be done at the level of
genes if the knowledge is to be passed to future generations.
Knowledge and memories are stored not only in our brains but also in the
cells of our bodies. This becomes most apparent when a recipient of an organ
transplant awakens from surgery with new, unique memories and some
preferences of the person whose organ is now within her body. Soon after Claire
Sylvia had her heart-lung transplant operation at Yale–New Haven Hospital, she
was asked what she wanted more than anything else, and she said, “Actually, I’m
dying for a beer right now.”3 She asked herself, why did I say that? She never
drank beer; she didn’t even like beer. It so happened that the donated heart had
come from a beer-loving teenager who rode motorcycles. Later he came to her in
a dream and told her his name. Eventually she found the family through their
son’s obituary, got to know them, and learned more about their son. Claire,
whom I discuss further in chapter 4, asked me to come and see her because,
although everybody thought she was crazy, she knew I would listen to her. She
wrote a book about her experience, A Change of Heart.
Another form of invisible intelligence and communication outside the body
is discussed in Lynne McTaggart’s book The Field. She writes, “Quantum
physicists had discovered a strange property in the subatomic world called
‘nonlocality.’ This [property is] the ability of a quantum entity such as an
individual electron to influence another quantum particle instantaneously over
any distance despite there being no exchange of force or energy.” Once any form
of contact happens between quantum particles, they “retain a connection even
when separated, so that the actions of one will always influence the other, no
matter how far they get separated.”4
Evidence of invisible communication between particles smaller than atoms
has been around for a long time. For example, biological mutations that happen
within one variety of plant in one part of the world have also been recorded
happening in the same variety of plant in other parts of the world. Knowledge is
communicated, too, such as when a species of animal learns to use a stick as a
tool for a specific task and the skill is learned at the same time in other parts of
the world, within the species, even though no visible means of communication or
physical connection has taken place.
In England, after many years of milk delivery, birds suddenly learned to
peck open milk containers that had been delivered to people’s homes. During
World War II, milk deliveries were cancelled. When the war ended and milk was
again left on people’s doorsteps, the birds immediately began to peck open the
containers. Due to the length of time involved, few of the latter group of birds
had been alive when the milk deliveries ceased. How could the untrained
youngsters so quickly understand what to do?
Once physicists identified nonlocality (the subatomic property of quantum
particles influencing other particles without using physical exchange of force or
energy), observers recognized that it explained certain phenomena, such as
animals knowing skills they were never taught. What traveled across the world
and across generations was not matter but intelligence.
In Western medicine, when doctors hear about something that wasn’t a part
of their education or training, they often say, “I can’t accept that.” What they
mean is: “I can’t explain it.” So they reject it. But if we want to utilize our
potential, we need to keep an open mind. William Bengston, PhD, in his book,
The Energy Cure: Unraveling the Mystery of Hands-On Healing, wrote about his
experimental research on mice that had been injected with an aggressive cancer
with a 100 percent track record of becoming terminal in a matter of weeks.
Bengston trained student researchers to perform a hands-on healing technique
called image cycling. The researchers had never practiced healing, nor did they
have any interest or faith in it. In the majority of cases, the mice were completely
healed of the disease. This result happened not once but many times over during
the controlled experiments in the science laboratories of several highly respected
institutions. Even Bengston’s peers who had observed the experiments, seen the
controls, and witnessed the amazing results refused to believe that traditional
medicine would ever take his work seriously.5
Near-death experiences tell us we are more than just physical bodies. Jung
often said that psyche and matter are complementary aspects of the same thing. I
believe these two aspects communicate with each other through images, the
language of creation and intention. We can, through the images in our dreams
and spontaneous drawings, tap our inner wisdom and reveal the authentic person
we are truly meant to be. We can remove negative messages that have been
implanted in our minds and retrain our thoughts using creative visualization and
positive affirmations to adopt life-promoting attitudes. We can learn how to live
in the moment and utilize the healing power of daily practices such as laughter,
meditation, and journaling. Loving and healing our lives is not only about
dismantling disease: it is also about being healthy, at peace, and fulfilled.
In The Art of Healing, I discuss all of these topics as well as the benefits that
can be gained from working with, and learning from, animals, psychics, and
intuitives. While sharing actual patients’ stories, I hope to illustrate on a practical
level how others have incorporated creative practices with positive results.
Throughout the book, I also offer a variety of prescriptive exercises (each
labeled “Doctor’s Rx”) to help you explore your own inner world of wisdom.
Since giving up surgery to help my patients heal in a different way, I have
referred to myself as a “Jungian surgeon.” I now use tools other than surgical
instruments to help patients. A box of crayons, a water gun, a noisemaker, and a
Magic Marker became four of those tools. You will read about the formation of
the Exceptional Cancer Patients therapy group that my wife, Bobbie, and I
started. The group still meets regularly and has helped hundreds of patients heal
their lives as well as their bodies. People have the potential built into them to
induce self-healing. Time and again I have seen my patients experience many
positive results when they adopted some of the techniques and attitudes covered
in this book.
On my website,, I offer books and meditation CDs, as
well as individual guidance in the section “Ask Bernie a Question.” In the many
articles and interviews posted on the site, I recommend creative tools that guide
people in the decision-making process they use in their day-to-day lives and
when confronting a variety of challenges. This book, The Art of Healing, is
meant to augment these tools, helping people learn how to live (or die) in
harmony, wholeness, and peace.
I want to share my method of Jungian surgery with the world, particularly
with health care professionals and with patients and their families so they will
come to understand how somatic aspects of health and disease are inseparable
from the natural integration of mind, body, and spirit. We spend a lot of time and
money exploring outer space, but inner space offers the same wonder and
mystery, and it should be included in our medical professionals’ education.
When we open our minds, when we listen to and draw from our inner
wisdom and the greater consciousness, we begin the fulfilling and sometimes
miraculous journey toward health and self-induced healing. When we agree to
take this journey, we become the artists, and our lives, the canvas. I invite you
now to adopt the curiosity and openness of a child. Take my hand and walk with
me through these pages. You will soon discover as we work together that you
have been creating, practicing, and experiencing the art of healing. When the
artist is alive within us, we become stimulating, creative beings from whom
everyone around us can benefit. So read on, pick up your brush and palette, and
start living your authentic life.

Table of Contents
Drawings proceed chapter 5
Introduction: The Big Questions
Chapter 1. The Doctor’s Awakening
Chapter 2. Source, Significance, and Validity of Symbols
Chapter 3. The Power of Visualization
Chapter 4. Dreams: The Brain’s Creative Workshop
Chapter 5. Drawings: When Conscious and Unconscious Disagree
Chapter 6. Interpreting the Drawings
Chapter 7. Animals, Psychics, and Intuitives
Chapter 8. Laugh Out Loud
Chapter 9. Fake It Till You Make It
Chapter 10. Words Can Kill or Cure
Chapter 11. Choose Life
Chapter 12. End-of-Life Transitions
Chapter 13. Spirituality: Feed Your Invisible Self
Epilogue: Graduations Are Commencements
About Bernie S. Siegel, MD
About Cynthia J. Hurn

BY BERNIE S. SIEGEL, MD 101 Exercises for the Soul 365 Prescriptions for the Soul A Book of Miracles Faith, Hope & Healing Help Me to Heal How to Live between Office Visits Love, Magic & Mudpies Love, Medicine & Miracles Peace, Love & Healing Prescriptions for Living CHILDREN’S BOOKS Buddy’s Candle Smudge Bunny
First printing, September 2013
ISBN 978-1-60868-185-3
Printed in Canada on 100% postconsumer-waste recycled paper
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