Tolle Causam: Find the Cause of Your Illness
Reading time: 8 min
All illness is a call for attention.
Wise and compassionate action is the only remedy.
Find the Cause of Your Illness
One of the five principles of Naturopathic Medicine is tolle causal, or “find the cause,” which means exactly what it says. For example if you are having difficulty sleeping many DOCTORs first question is, “What herbs, supplements or acupuncture points might enable you to sleep better? However insomnia is not due to a deficiency of these. Normal sleep, like normal digestion and blood pressure is normal. If these normal functions are not occurring it is because of real causes or reasons. If these damaging causes are not discovered and corrected they will continue to undermine your Health in other ways. My work is 100% dedicated to finding and correcting the real causes of your Health problems. I also encourage the wise use of medicines however in their proper place.
Thus one of your first assignments in regaining your Health will be to think deeply about what you believe is causing your Health problems. I will guide you in this process. In fact this article is part of that guidance. At our next consultation we will discuss this assignment so that you reach an even clearer understanding of what are the real causes of your “illness.”
While I practiced as a doctor for many years, my role now is much more as a teacher than as a doctor. (The word doctor comes from the Latin root, “docere” meaning “to teach.”) I offer you instruction rather than medications. This is most relevant to our present task of “Find The Cause.” In the practice of medicine it is not necessary that you, the patient understand the causes of your illness. That is almost entirely the doctor’s job. In your educational work with me, it is exactly the opposite. While it is important that I understand the causes of your illness my understanding will benefit you minimally. It is YOUR understanding that is critical. Here is why.
What Causes Your Illness?
The work that it takes to heal yourself is the most difficult and challenging of all undertakings. You must have strong conviction that this work of changing your behavior is both absolutely necessary and that it will work. If I have this conviction and you don’t it won’t help you at all, not at all. What ends up happening is my trying to urge you to do what I am certain will benefit you, and such urging is minimally effective. The urge must be your own. Like anything of value it can only come from you. Knowing this, my work is to give you assignments that will deepen your understanding of the causes of your illness.
I trust you begin to see the importance that you come to your own conclusions about what the causes of your illness are. My understanding and enthusiasm are mine and I cannot impart these to you anymore than I can eat or exercise for you. You must earn your own understanding. Your personal power to correct your self-harming behaviors depends entirely on the clarity of your understanding.
When the going gets tough it is your conviction that what you are doing is absolutely necessary and beneficial that empowers you.
Understanding Your Illness
That said, this assignment teaches you to deepen your understanding of the real causes of your suffering. You will return to this understanding again and again. I write and teach about it in many different ways. Essentially the causes of your Health problems are to be found in the ways you live your life; the ways you eat, move (exercise), think and relate. It is not that there are no other causes. Certainly poisoning, infection and trauma are examples of causes often not under your control. I have some skill in recognizing these other causes and will recommend that you seek appropriate care when I see these are involved. However, our work together is directed to those actions which you and only you can and must do for yourself. Nothing else will benefit you as much.
Let us agree at the outset that for the purposes of our work together we will view your Health problems to be purposeful, beneficial, and instructive. i.e. your symptoms are attempts by your body to guide you to live in more wholesome ways, to take better care of yourself. They are meant to lead you away from ways of living that are certain to bring you suffering.
You and I are going to ask “How have I contributed to my Health problems by the ways I have taken care of myself.” Our intention is to have you become aware of the unparalleled power to heal inherent in your most ordinary actions. I want to take the mystery out of illness for you. I want you to understand how enormously you are able to influence what happens in your own body by sincerely studying and practicing the arts of eating, exercise, thinking and relating.
Therefore the first challenge you face in your work of Self-Healing is to learn a model of Health and illness that explains your symptoms as being inextricably linked to the way you live and take care of yourself.
The Wisdom of Illness
In Naturopathic medicine, this is the model of “Toxemia” and I have produced a DVD that explains this. It is entitled “The Wisdom of Illness” and it teaches you how your body actually responds to improper use by becoming ill. It also teaches you to view your symptoms as wise, purposeful functions of your bodymind. Your bodymind is NOT functioning incorrectly. Your “illness” is a perfectly natural and correct response to the unnatural and incorrect feeding and use of your body and mind.
The point of understanding this model of toxemia is that you will then naturally find yourself asking, “What is the message my bodymind is trying to communicate to me?” Specifically what is my illness directing me to learn or change in the four areas of eating, exercise/rest, thinking, and relating?
Do understand that I am not requesting that you deeply contemplate these questions for me. I gain nothing from your efforts. Nor are there ANY external rewards for completing this and other assignments such as eating or exercising. These actions carry their own rewards. In this assignment I am asking you what YOU genuinely believe to be the cause(s) of your Health problems and what you believe you must do to Heal yourself. I am asking you to develop your own plan for how you are going to get well. What do you sincerely believe will restore your Health?
Remember there are no short cuts and you cannot deceive Nature nor your body. You will benefit exactly according to what you give of yourself. This is certain. I want you to look deeply and honestly into yourself seeking to understand the causes of your illness.
If you know that one cause, for example, is drinking too much coffee. Look even more deeply and ask, “What caused me to drink that much coffee?” Or “Why didn’t I exercise? Or what impeded me from speaking my truth in my marriage?
I appreciate that this concept may be new to you and that you may not feel that you are capable of designing your own program of Self-Healing. Do not worry. I am here to help you. That is my job and this is precisely what we will do at your next consultation.
In each consultations I will instruct you in some area of Health and then give you a specific assignment and ask you to practice that assignment and return to discuss what you have learned and the difficulties you are encountering. It is identical to learning to dance or speak a language only you can live without dancing and speaking another language. You suffer terribly if you are not skilled in these arts of living.
This lesson is a medicine I am prescribing for you: The medicine of understanding how your body works. The more clearly you understand what heals and what harms the more easily and rapidly you will move from ignorant, self-harming behaviors and embrace what is truly beneficial. We are trying to narrow the gap between my understanding of your illness and your understanding of your illness.
Your basic assignment here is to describe the causes of your illness and develop a plan for getting well. You may go at this in any way that works for you. Other materials that may assist you are:
1. My DVDThe Wisdom of Illness
2. The book, “Food Is Your Best Medicine” by HenryBieler, M.D.
3. My assignment/article “What I really want.” This offers additional instruction that has applications to this one.