Caroline Myss: The Science of Medical Intuition
You’re listening to Insights at the Edge.
Today I speak with Caroline Myss. Caroline is a medical intuitive who has the ability to sense and diagnose illness. Through her work with Harvard trained neurologist Dr. Norm Shealy, she has performed thousands of intuitive readings with a 93 percent accuracy rating in correctly diagnosing a variety of illnesses. She is the author of five New York Times bestsellers, as well as the Sounds True audio learning programs Energy Anatomy and Sacred Contracts. In addition, she’ll be hosting an eleven-part online course along with Dr. Norm Shealy which starts March 16, 2010 at www.soundstrue.com, an eleven-part online course on medical intuition.
I spoke with Caroline about her abilities as a medical intuitive and how she cultivated these abilities over many years, the process of refining our senses into a highly developed intuitive capacity, and the importance of understanding the chakras as the basis for the language of energy medicine. Here’s my conversation with Caroline Myss.
Tami Simon: So to begin with – your own experience as a medical intuitive, how did this open up for you, become apparent for you that you had a talent for medical intuition? Tell us the history.
Caroline Myss: It goes back. I think that’s like asking an artist, When did you first realize you were an artist? I think it was such a natural, organic dynamic for me. I was very attuned; I was born wired for it. What happened was probably, I really do credit meeting Norm Shealy with stepping into my medical intuitive skin. Because prior to that, I could sense when somebody wasn’t well or ill, that kind of dynamic. It’s that I didn’t really pay attention to it. I didn’t harness it all; it wasn’t a big deal to me, because it was something that was second nature to me all my life, in the same way that someone was always good at another unusual skill. But then when I met Norm, and we started to work together, which was in 1984, and he lived near Springfield, MS, he had a clinic in Springfield and I was at the time living in Walpole, NH, and he said, How are we going to work together? And we came up with the procedure, the protocol of his calling me when he had a patient in his office. He had permission from the patient and he would phone while the patient was in the office, or if not, he secured the permission from the patient to call on the person’s behalf.
He would give me the name and age of the patient, not a birth date because I don’t do astrology, just the name and age. And those two coordinates seemed to lock in an ID, kind of my GPS, so to speak, and from that I was able to start out my early days of being able to pick up impressions. What’s that like? That is not unlike, the way I would describe it to somebody is telling them to imagine what their living room or bedroom looks like, and you instantly get images of those rooms. And then I would tell them, Imagine those same images, just transferred to my mind. But the difference is that I don’t have any connection to the sentimentality of any of the objects of the room or to your home. I simply get the image of what those objects are like. And I’m able to sense them.
We’re dealing with energetic impressions so you cannot transfer the language of the five senses to energetic senses; they’re not the same thing. So to approach this logically and say, Well, can you actually see? You’re not talking about your eyes; you’re talking about energetic sensing, anymore than you can describe the realm of ultra-violet colors in the same way you would describe primary colors; they’re not the same thing but they exists. And so we’re dealing with energetic data, and it’s just as real, you just have to learn how to read it or sense it in a very different way. That’s what I became very adept with because of my work with Norm Shealy.
TS: You said that you were born wired for it; it’s like asking an artist When did you start creating art? The artist would always have a propensity to see life as an artist. So do you believe that medical intuition is something that people are born with or something that anyone can develop who wants to?
CM: I absolutely believe that every single person is wired with survival intuition, which is an animal instinct. Beyond that, I think that we inherently are drawn to advance that instinct to a more refined level of inner guidance. The gut instinct is simply a survival mechanism. It’s that level of instinct that alerts us to whether a bridge is safe or should we buy this car; it’s just a survival instinct. Should we trust this person? You walk down the street and you feel your hackles go up because you think, I don’t feel safe here. You don’t have to be a highly advanced soul to know that you’re in trouble. You just sense it. And then think of all the times that you don’t even realize your intuition has kicked in and redirected you, and you don’t even know it. It operates constantly. Don’t credit yourself with being that bright.
Of all the many times that you’ve changed your mind and don’t even know why you have changed your mind is the result of this type of survival, intuition, eclipsing your so-called reasoning mind and making it think, You know what? I’m going to take a different route home. You don’t have to know why you did that; it’s just that the survival intuition took over. Then you advance to a level where you start asking more sophisticated questions, questions like, I wonder really what makes this universe tick. You start positioning yourself to embrace more sophisticated answers. And by that I don’t mean that the answers are so much more intellectually complex, but rather that they demand of you a more responsible outcome should you find out the answer.
If you then asked a question, I wonder if there is some higher force in charge. If in fact you discover that there is, by virtue of that discovery, your own response, in terms of your behavior, has to change. So by upgrading your consciousness, this is not just an intellectual pursuit. This type of pursuit demands that your own behavior in relationship to life and other people advances in terms of how you treat others. And that begins to open up a different passageway of self-inquiry, self-knowledge. That advances a different of level of inner sensory, inner inquiry, and an inner sense of our ethics, what is an interior sense of morality. And what is right and wrong at a much more sophisticated level, your sense of guidance, your sense of where you belong and why you were given the experience of life.
Your questions begin to change. And that engages a very different level of spirituality. And still here that word “spirituality” remains in a kind of neutral place because you haven’t yet decided whether or not you’re going to take that word and shift it from being just a practice of just organic vegetables and yoga to one of a direct, of setting your sights on, a direct path of inner illumination, because there is a difference that your spirituality is a bunch of books you throw in your head, a bunch of vegetables that you throw down your throat, and closing your eyes and deep breathing verses setting your eyes on a path of inner illumination in which you decide to take on yourself. And take on yourself for the specific goal of moving toward divinity and your own relationship with an inner source named God. Or whatever you want to call it. And in that course, you say, I’m on a mystical route. And what I want is a relationship, an intimate relationship, with the nature of truth. I want my illusions taken away from me and what would that look like? Then you begin a route that says, “Whatever is not truth, I want it yanked out of me, I need to yank it out of me. I’ll do this in a cooperative venture.”
That’s when the real rigor begins. It’s when you have to start going inside of yourself, and you have to do this at the beginning of really intense rigorous excavation that begins with looking at what illusions you nurture in yourself that keep you from being a loving person, that cause you to be hostile toward other people, and the excuses you give yourself, that you nurture in yourself, that you have to identify. “This is an illusion but there’s no truth to it but I water that plant all the time.” (Teresa of Avila called it a reptile.) You have to own that you do this. Now you know that you’re getting into some serious work; this is serious work. When you get to this level, your senses begin to emerge with a little more delicacy. They become a little more astute because you’re discovering that in fact you have some really highly refined senses in you. And they’ll come to the surface, but they come to the surface because you’re able to discern the difference now between your own deep, illusionary self and what is a clear hit from clear grace.
TS: That makes sense, Caroline, in terms of the development of what we might just call “general intuition” or “mystical Intuition.” As a human evolves spiritually, they become more and more refined. I get that. But it seems like medical intuition is a specialty within that.
CM: I think that with medical intuition, I became very good at it because I had nothing else to do. To give you a perfectly dull answer to something that is probably the truth. I was captive in New Hampshire; I met a fabulous physician who became one of my best and dearest life friends. We were able to do five to ten readings a day. How many people would put in that kind of time? I had nothing else to do. I was in publishing, but I had a totally dull and boring life. There were no distractions for me up in the mountains of New Hampshire. I think that if I had been married and with children and a husband and family and other responsibilities, that wouldn’t have happened. And I wouldn’t have become as good as I did. But I somehow or other ended up in an incredibly monastic life, not by choice, believe me, not by choice. It just happened and I ended up filling it with everybody else’s needs.
And so it filled up. And I happened to, by default, become very good at something because I had nothing else to do.
TS: Okay, but do you believe that your intuition operates in terms of every aspect of your life but then you developed this specialty because of all the readings that you did with Norm?
CM: Yes I do. I think I have one. My background in theology…let me make something clear here. I also think academically my background was one of my greatest preparatory stages. I consider my scholarship to be part of what made my wiring so receptive to this. I’m a very grounded scholar. In what having what would be called “a mystical experience” or having a great intensity in the wiring, I never once said, Oh my gosh, I don’t know what’s happening to me. I always did. Whether it was the periods where I cycled into epilepsy or not, I knew what was happening to me. I knew exactly what was happening into me.
TS: Caroline, do you think there’s a connection between the epileptic experiences you’ve had and your gifts as an intuitive?
CM: Absolutely I do.
TS: What is that connection?
CM: You know, in fact, just two weeks ago, at Dominican University, a professor who is the chairman of the Department of Philosophy; he is now pursuing Neuro-theology, the impact of mystical experiences on Neurology. Seizures burned through – I knew, I’ll tell you a story, the first time I had a seizure was the day I resigned from publishing. It was the first day I felt any kind of electrical shuffling in my brain. It was my brain. I felt it and I knew it. It was also on that day that I said, I don’t know how I’m going to support myself if I leave publishing, and I felt eight zaps in my brain and I received a phone call for eight readings, that same day. And the phones never stopped ringing, from that day forward, for medical intuitive readings, and my circuits needed to be expanded. The capacity I had to do readings needed to be expanded; my wiring needed to be expanded. I went through four years of very tough times, and then they stopped. And then they kicked in for a period of ten months, during the time of Teresa of Avila, and then they stopped.
I think that it’s somehow or other essential to the expanding of circuits of grace in ways that I cannot explain, but apparently it’s necessary or essential to the experience. I knew that my life was different after each one; I mean I could sense something different and I could sense my perceptual system was shifting, which does not make it not frightening, because you have no idea how long it’s going to last. You wonder if this is going to be permanent. It’s a terrifying part of your life. It’s terrifying. It certainly shifted the way I live, it certainly shifted everything. But it also had a very defining shift on my capacity to understand healing and recognize the profound power of grace, which became tactile to me as a result, which was not something that existed for me before.
So I have to say, do I think that everybody can be a medical intuitive? I would have to tell you that no, I do not. I think part of the reason is that not everybody is wired for it. Number two, I think most people do not have the discipline to learn what is necessary. This is what’s true: what makes a clear intuitive is the idea that I’m just sensitive and I can do readings is nonsense. The amount of study I put in is never looked at.
The amount of work that I did with Norm as a medical intuitive; the learning of anatomy and the learning of everything that I did as a student with Norm is never looked at. People just think that it was just all this information that just sort of fell out of the heavens and drops into your head; that’s nonsense. You have to meet your intuition half-way, if not more, in order to become a refined, laser-sharp vessel. And you have to learn to identify the sharp language that energy speaks to you in and at the slightest shift in its frequency means something. And in order to do this, you have to know the names of the illnesses and the anatomy of the body. You have to know these things. It’s not just this idea that intuition is an energetic genius that eclipses for intellectual scholarship. It does not.
TS: I think that’s a really important point.
CM: You think? Are you kidding?
TS: I want to go ahead, and I hope this doesn’t sound too crass, but I can imagine someone listening saying, I would like to develop these higher levels of intuition, but I certainly don’t want to have seizures and develop epilepsy. I think that’s a reasonable response. Is that necessary for this kind of super-refined capacity?
CM: First of all, the experiences of seizures were temporary. Do I think it’s necessary? I can’t call the shots there. I think that the vast majority of people who would say that they are intuitives have never known that kind of thing. They’ve never known the extremes that I have, but they’re not as good as I am. In all humility, I’ll say that they’re not as good as I am.
TS: I would say that’s my personal experience, having worked with different intuitives as well.
CM: They’re not as good, but then again, they also haven’t lived a life as extreme as I have. Most people have a watered down life that includes much more normalcy than I have. They haven’t lived as isolated as I have. They haven’t lived that sort of single-track life that I have, which is a far more normal life, Tami. You know that my life is not ordinary. Not by choice, it just happened to be the way it is.
And so you kind of go with the life that you’ve been given, and because my life is sort of a perfume version of work and intensity and spiritual intensity and scholarship intensity and writing intensity, I don’t have any cloner toilet water version of anything I do and maybe that’s what is asked of me in this lifetime. And so that is the way it has to be in every other expression of it, including what is required to become a very good intuitive, so it’s the extreme of it that I’ve had to experience. And the extreme of it takes a person to the edge and that edge is a seizure. I don’t think that most people go to the edge of anything. I don’t think they go to the edge of love. I don’t think they go to the edge of suffering, of forgiveness, of their intellect. I don’t think they go to the edge of anything. Not that they don’t have the opportunity to do that, but that’s the only place I’ve ever gone, the edge. And that’s the consequence. But on the other hand, my inability to forgive caused me to bleed to death and my ability to forgive brought me into some of the most mystical experiences of my life as a consequence.
TS: Can you give us a little more detail?
CM: No, we won’t go there.
CM: But what I have learned is that going to the edge is probably the nature of my life. And what I learned in my last book, in Defy Gravity, in going into the seven graces and the seven shadows and the seven graces of the soul, is that I finally found the Holy Grail in that I actually got that we either come from love or we don’t. Prior to that, I would say that but I didn’t get that, not in the mystical sense, not in the visceral sense, not in the sense of the soul. And it became real. I had to go through the castle first; I had to go through Teresa [of Avila] ; I had to get into my soul. Part of my frustration is even the use of language, because at some point, language becomes an obstacle and not an asset. And that’s the nature of the mystical experience.
I remember looking at a professor of mine in college, who is a profound mystic, and when she would go into her deep place of meditation and I would look at her at church on Sunday, I would think, Where are you going? when she would close her eyes. I would think, Where are you? And when I would read about what the mystics describe, when they would close their eyes or when you would see a Buddhist in meditation, I would think, Where is this place where you go? And when you read Rumi and you see this ecstasy of love, is he talking about Shams or is he talking about the Divine or where are they when they talk about being on first in their soul. Where is this place; this place of the Divine, which they are speaking of? What is true, if you get there for one second, you know that that place is more real than any place where we dwell here for all the years of our life. And then for me, that place I got it, I found it for one second. And you know the power of that love verses seeing the option.
You know, medical intuition for me is an extraordinary skill that began my journey; it began a long journey. And it is a skill that I think, and I put it in the category of skill, because I think that, what people can learn from medical intuition is that it is a template that organizes an interior map that is absolutely real. The organization of the chakras and the energetic and anatomical system of the way in which the invisible schemata of power is outlined is absolutely real. And to be able to think in that archetypal map is an asset that, only when you get there do you realize what a power you have assembled in the world behind your eye is for you. You haven’t got a clue until you get it.
It’s kind of being with someone who hasn’t learned to read and you say to them, Wait until you become literate. You haven’t got a clue what world opens to you once you’re literate. But the person who can’t read looks at you and thinks, Oh my god, do I really have to learn the alphabet? And you’re sitting in front of Library of Congress and the Smithsonian and every single great classical book of the world, and you’re thinking, Please, trust me. Get these 26 letters in your head; there are only 26 of them. And let me show you how to assemble them and a whole universe opens up. Just trust me. Just get these 26 letters in your head and a whole universe will assemble right in front of your eyes. It will present itself, a world that you cannot even imagine. And to me, learning medical intuition is that kind of alphabet.
TS: And when you say “the template,” you’re talking specifically in the alphabet, you’re talking about the seven chakras?
CM: I am because it is your corridor that is just the beginning. It’s the beginning into seeing the energy world. The world is energy and seeing yourself that way. It’s a beginning to understanding yourself within a cosmic scheme that doesn’t make any sense to you unless you have that map in your head. You can’t access that side of yourself intellectually. You’ve got to have that energetic map and you have to start responding to yourself energetically. You have to start interacting with yourself energetically; you have to start reading yourself energetically and feel power leave you. You have to actually start sensing, I feel power leave me. What part is leaving me and why? I can feel my power leaving from my third chakra; what is the reason? And you have to start responding and saying, I’m hemorrhaging from my third chakra, I feel it. And then connect the dot, That’s my self-esteem. I’m hemorrhaging out of myself esteem and then connect the dot, That’s why my stomach hurts and then connect the dot.
And pretty soon, the whole way that you define power and the whole way you seek human interactions, the whole way you see the whole world you live in, becomes a whole different theatre of operation. It becomes a theatre of power; it becomes a theatre of self-esteem and an entirely different energetic world. And then you begin to understand how medical-intuitive readings are done and your own senses get heightened because you, yourself, are reading yourself.
TS: Now let’s say that someone is beginning to open up to this capacity, but one of their questions is that they just don’t know how accurate they are.
CM: You have to start with yourself. You don’t go with anyone else – you’re not going to be accurate. What do you think, that accuracy is earned overnight? Are you nuts? Do you know how long it takes to be accurate?
TS: So you start with yourself?
CM: You must start with yourself. You must start with paying attention to yourself at all times. And accurately hitting on you, Why am I doing this? Where am I losing power? What’s causing this? and being ruthlessly honest with yourself. I’m losing power because I’m jealous. I’m losing power because I’m angry. What am I angry about? I’m not getting my way. This is a power play. You have got to be so tough with yourself, and if you cannot be that tough with yourself, then don’t do a reading on anyone else, because you’ll only do it to try to impress them.
TS: Now in the process of observing oneself, I can imagine we begin to know maybe what’s happening but it’s harder to know why it’s happening. Is it important to know why? I’m losing energy from this place, why? Do I have to ask that question? Is that the right question?
CM: Yes. You want to know, Where am I losing it, why, and what am I going to do about it? And the thing about the “why” that is important to understand is that the “why” is rarely logical in the ordinary sense of logic. You have to understand how a “why” works and that the only person’s name that can be in either your question or your answer is your own. Let me repeat that: The only person’s name that can be in your question or your answer is your own name. Thus, Why am I losing power? It’s because I am… what? You cannot say, Well, it’s because Tami said this to me. You can never put someone else’s name in the answer to any of the questions you ask yourself.
You’re the only one occupying your body. You’re the only one responding. You’re losing your power because of the way you are responding. It has nothing to do with anybody else. You learn how to answer your questions properly and accurately. And you learn to take charge and recognize how you respond as you do. And your first clue is to get a handle on your own private agendas, your own shadow. Unless you can do that, if you think you can read someone else, you’re nuts. You’ve got to be tough and honest with yourself. And it’s rough work but here’s the outcome: you become really good at it if you stick with it and you become really healthy. You get a little bit of both.
TS: One of the things I’ve noticed in different people that I’ve met over the years that have had this kind of gift of wiring is not that they’ve gone through seizure experiences, as was your case, but that they did have some very awful trauma in their early life. Maybe it was some form of abuse or just something really terrible happened to them when they were young. And that somehow their spontaneous capacity to receive information related to that early trauma. I’m curious what you think about that.
CM: Like a near-death experience, they’ve had some kind of a healer.
TS: Yes, I’m just curious what you think about that – the relationship between some serious traumas in life?
CM: Well, there is a pattern there. There’s truth to that. There’s a pattern of the classic story of the wounded healer. Somehow there seems to be an archetypal journey that is common in which a person is given the very trials that they will eventually help others go through. It’s a way of perhaps seeding the elements of compassion, of opening up a person and also helping that person discover resources of the soul that they would otherwise not have unlocked. I think that everyone of us has had the experience of having something ferocious happen to us, something painful, something traumatic, and when you tell somebody who has no reference for what you’ve been through, you can tell, that person will abruptly go through it and say, Oh, that was terrible, and go onto the next subject. And that no one can tolerate it, because it somehow or other insults the depths of a person’s trauma and suffering.
Whereas when you tell somebody who knows what you’ve been through, they will pause and hold their breath with you as long as you hold your breath, because they know exactly what you’ve been through. That’s the person you want next to you. Unless that person’s been given that same wound, they can’t be allowed to go out and call themselves a healer because they will listen to someone and speak from the head and say, You can get through this. Here, this is what you do. You follow these three steps. They will be one of them. And you listen to them and say, This person is inauthentic. There’s no heart in this person. Who do they think they are talking to me in this way?
You can tell instantly when someone is on stage and they say, A broken heart is a shattered vessel and that’s just what is true. And somebody hears someone say that, they know that person is speaking from a broken heart and they’ll take notes. That’s why it’s essential.
TS: That makes good sense, Caroline. Just a couple of questions about medical intuition: I would imagine that when you were doing a lot of readings, not so much when it was anonymous, where Norm was calling you in his office and you didn’t know the person. But when you did readings when someone would call you up, you had to deliver some pretty terrible information to people about their health situation, and I’m curious how you worked with that. I mean, having to tell someone that they have a malignant form of cancer or something like that.
CM: I think what I relied upon was that they generally knew. What I discovered through the year was that most people already knew that something frightening was happening in their body. It was much more my style to get them to say it. And if I thought it was really, really bad, I would say to them, “I really have to encourage you to go to a doctor and get some tests. That is what I’m thinking you should do next.” I had to be very cautious about the way I spoke and the way I said things. If I was talking to Norm, I could just directly say, This person is malignant; this person has Hodgkin’s; this person has this… because it would then come through a physician. But because I wasn’t a physician, I couldn’t speak as a doctor. But if I was doing a medical-intuitive reading directly with someone, I was very cautious about the way I spoke to them. And it was more my style to encourage them to go for further tests.
This is something that probably needs to be said as a kind of sidebar, but I never discussed medication. I never advised a person on what to take or what not to take precisely because I’m not a doctor. But I also don’t think it’s the province of a medical intuitive to do that. I just don’t think it’s wise. I think there is a place where medical intuition is a support system to allopathic medicine, not a substitute. And that has always been my philosophy and that needs to be said.
Medical intuitives should work with a physician, not independent of one. That’s probably the reason I’ve never gotten in trouble as a medical intuitive for so many years, besides of the fact that I was so wise in the way I handled the skill. When I did see something, I directed someone immediately to a physician. I was never one to say, I see your energy is off and that’s all that’s wrong with you. If I thought that they were heading into cancer, I directly said, I think that your condition has a greater chance of being serious than not and you need to go to a doctor and soon. That’s how I would say it. Hopefully they would get the message.
Many times I would be asked, Do you think this is cancer? I would say, My hunch is that this is direction that this is going. You can take that for what it’s worth, without tests. You asked and I’m going to give you my hunch. That is how it feels to me. And I would tell them, I want to error on the side of caution, but that is how it feels to me. And go get it checked. Too many times, I’ve been with people, and I literally sat with one woman while she was dying or people who were told, You’re just going through a negative energy thing. People want to hear something like that, when in fact, it was cancer spreading like a wild fire through their body. They love to hear that they’re just going through a negative thing, without ever mentioning those words, like “cancer” and “Hodgkin’s” or “leukemia.”
But you can’t do that, which is why to me, there are two reasons a person would take an online course. One is for self-application. But nobody can take this class and become a practicing medical intuitive. It is far too complex a science, because it is a science, to think that you can listen and then turn around and practice such a sophisticated science, and it is that, in which other people’s lives are in your hands. I’m going to declare that right now: that is not what this is about. It took me years to become accurate, not one class. It took years of what I consider to be a tight apprenticeship with Norm Shealy, for years, and a lot of study, not just one class. And the impatience of human nature isn’t going to change that. This is a class for someone who wants to apply this learning to maintain a healthier self.
TS: It’s really an introduction, as you said, to the alphabet, to the inner language, which is the starting point.
Final question, Caroline, which is, even the term “medical intuition,” I was introduced to it first through you and your work. I think the work that you and Norm have done has introduced medical intuition into the culture in the last two decades. I am curious about what your vision is for medical intuition in the twenty-first century. Where do you want to see it go?
CM: I think it’s a science. I think it’s an absolute science. Medical intuition to me is one of the essential new sciences on the horizon. We have crushed the Rubicon; we are now in the solar age, the age of energy and the crises facing the planet, whether we look politically or the oral, or anything, is a matter of a fossil world disintegrating and the solar world emerging. This energy medicine is the way we’re going to be handling and treating human beings in the future. We must go in this direction. And so energy medicine and medical intuitives are going to be part of the medical teams. And energy anatomy is going to be developed into to a classic course in medical schools; it has to be.
TS: The Science of Medical Intuition, an online course with Caroline Myss and Dr. Norm Shealy, begins on March 16, at Soundstrue.com.
Caroline, thank you so much for giving us a little introduction and pointing the way to the alphabet of medical intuition.
CM: You’re welcome.
TS: Thank you, Caroline.
Soundstrue.com: many voices, one journey. Thanks for listening.