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John W. Travis, M.D. & Regina Sara Ryan
  Home  > Helping Professionals  > Power-Over, Power-With

Power-Over, Power-With

We need to be wary of beliefs and practices that focus on a power-over rather than on a power-with orientation.

Many "new age" teachings direct us toward acknowledging only what is "positive." They teach "love as our only reality," and that life on this earth is an illusion or training ground for "life in heaven." These "sky god" approaches deny half the world, split us into two parts, and set us up against unrealistic standards by confusing absolute truths with relative truths. They may bring comfort but at the cost of our denying half of what we see and never really knowing ourselves or participating fully in life on earth.

Many alternative treatment techniques reinforce the same power-over exclusionary and/or external (rather than some balance of inner and outer) orientation as traditional medicine. Both focus on only one aspect of our being (mental/emotional, physical, or spiritual) and attempt to "fix it" to meet some preconceived notion of "better." Often they reinforce the belief in power residing with some external source - be it the "healer" or some supplement, food, or crystal.

We need to consider the notion of absolute and relative truths and differing realities. Truth is a matter of consciousness. The techniques or truth or vision that got us here today may limit us tomorrow. The technique that changes "your" life may not be the one that changes "mine" because not only our external but internal realities may be very different. (continues)

A truly holistic view cannot come from a power-over orientation. It cannot be exclusionary or one-sided, for such views only hold partial truths, partial solutions. We need to recognize that approaches such as mind/body, left brain/right brain, inner/outer, are not exclusionary but complementary. We need to allow opposites to work within us. "Consciousness creates reality/Reality creates consciousness." "I am/We are One."

We need an orientation that addresses our being as a whole and considers the life-affirming purpose that "dis-ease" is serving. We need to re-member that we are already whole, but rarely present to our self to recognize our wholeness. So much of the time we are running from our self, looking forward, backward, or to some other conceived notion of "better," or "more whole." There may be parts of us we don�t like, but that does not mean that they are not part of our wholeness. Re-cognizing this, we re-claim power with every aspect of our being. We can choose to use every experience to propel us toward a deepening consciousness and more active engagement with the Mysterium in which we live and move and have our being.

I may not like having cancer, but it does not mean that I am less whole, less able to live well. Not having cancer is no guarantee of my living well, nor even of my happiness. I may have cancer and experience myself in a more dynamic state of aliveness, with a greater immediacy and communion with life than ever before. (continues)


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