I first encountered Bernie Siegel since the early 1980’s and his work has been woven through my life ever since. A pioneer in mind-body-spirit medicine, his humorous style cuts through fear in the face of life challenging illness. Although he has degrees, expertise and authority, the most important medicine he practices is love. It exudes from his pores and in our interview, I could feel it riding on the sound-waves. Many of my interviews leave me feeling buzzy and energized. This one had me experiencing a sense of being cradled and rocked. His first book called Love, Medicine and Miracles (I still have an autographed copy) introduced the world to the idea that even with cancer, people can live full, rich lives and even if they did die from the disease, they may have died more healed than they might have lived prior to that.
He described a study that asked people if their parents loved them. Years later, they discovered that if the answer was yes “1 out of 4 suffered a major illness. If the answer was no, 98% suffered a major illness.” Animals are an important component of healing as well and in homes where they are present, people just feel better.
Since our bodies are also repositories for memories, the painful and the pleasurable, Bernie encourages folks to “Let your heart make up your mind, so that the body gets a ‘live message’.” He related a story about being on a massage table as an adult and ‘regressing’ to infancy when following a difficult birth, his devoted grandmother massaged his traumatized body that his mother described as a “purple melon” five times a day. He felt like “the most loved child on the planet.” and it explained why he didn’t “become a drug addict or alcoholic”.
I bless his grandmother, since if not for her, the man who makes such a difference in people’s lives, would not exist.
In the interview, he relates stories of the impact that real relationships, that come from the heart, can work all manner of miracles. When people feel as if they matter, they heal. He shared about the mottos to live by that he was taught as a child and sadly, a patient said that they needed to address mottos to die by, since many had received toxic messages that they internalized.
Self care is crucial. Women have said that they needed to live until their children had reached certain milestones and guess what happened…once they left the home, the women died. Men have said that they have lost jobs and pondered what it was they had to live for while their wives and children were right there with them.
Art work is an important aspect of his work with the idea that beyond words, come imagery that speaks volumes about the person’s attitude toward life and the illness that they face. I joked with him that the same slides he used 3o years ago, he revisited when he came back to my area a few years ago. They are truly timeless. Bernie’s new book is called The Art of Healing: Uncovering Your Inner Wisdom and Potential for Self-Healing.