Mind/Body and Pele's Rocks
Visitors from all over the world who travel to the Big Island are warned to not take any souvenir lava rocks with them when they return to their homes. Invariably, many tourists cannot resist the temptation to pocket just one or two lovely black stones to show the folks back home or to add to their personal rock collections.
Since the 1950's, more than one ton of rocks has been annually returned to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park from visitors who claim to have experienced "Pele's curse." It seems that Pele, the legendary Goddess of the Big Island volcanoes, regards her rocks as sacred and doesn't want to share them. Thus, ill-fortune and poor health accompany those unbelievers who remove rocks from the Island, motivating them to return the rocks to the abode of the capricious Goddess.
And now for the rest of the story. According to Robin Stephens and Linda Ching, co-authors of "Powerstones, Letters to a Goddess," Pele's Curse has no basis in Hawaiian mythology. They say that the whole notion of a curse was started by a park ranger in 1946 in an attempt to discourage visitors from taking rocks from the National Park. Stephens and Ching say that if the curse is a sham, then why all the fuss? The realization they arrived at was that the power of our beliefs shapes our perceptions of the world and creates our reality.
Whoa! What am I saying here? I think I am saying that pain, suffering, health, happiness and the laws of physics are affected by the power of our conscious and unconscious minds. If this is true, then why don't we re-create the Garden of Eden? Simply put, we humans do not yet know how to focus our intent to the degree that we can consciously manifest on the physical level.
This brings us back to health. The realization that the mind exerts a powerful influence on the body is almost a cliche. The mind-body connection is finally acknowledged by many (not all) western medical practitioners, although they are at a loss to incorporate this realization into a therapeutic approach with their patients. When most western-trained physicians find that there is a psychological dimension influencing a patient's experience and expression of life, an anti-depressant is most often their solution.
Eastern medical practitioners and tribal shamans have traditionally practiced a more integrated approach, using herbal medicines and ritual in their approaches to restoring health. Drums, feathers and ritualistic dances may not, in themselves, drive out the evil spirits that are creating distortion on the physical level. But if the patient, the object of the focused attention of the shaman believes that they do, then the possibility of restored health is greater. Any physician knows that the survival potential of a chronically ill person is greater if the patient believes they will recover.