After my husband and I had decided to start a family, we grappled with infertility. It was hardest on me and became an all-consuming focus. I felt bitter, embarrassed, jealous, defensive, defective and desperate — a terrible mix. I tried Graf Stress Management after hearing about it from someone who’d used it to reverse a terminal illness.
To me, it sounded like the ultimate holistic mind-body approach. I gravitated toward its premise that we each have a subconscious “intelligence” which knows everything about us. It holds the record of our life’s events and the blueprint for a healthy body.
I’d believed the “blueprint” part since childhood. As I was growing up, I interacted daily with a very illness-oriented person who visited several doctors each week. She believed that her body needed close medical supervision to run properly, and she unconsciously tried to convert me to her outlook. She frequently announced that I was exhibiting symptoms of some malady, even though I felt fine. She even forecast a series of health problems for my lifetime: allergies in childhood, phlebitis in my twenties, high blood pressure by thirty, arthritis in my forties, and kidney problems were just a question of when.
These predictions annoyed me sometimes to the point of outright anger. There was no substance to them. I had excellent health and wasn’t fragile in any sense. And I resented what felt like an “illness spell” being cast on me by planting negative expectations about my health in my mind, which I suppose I instinctively regarded as bad policy.
Watching this person as I grew, it was evident to me that psychological factors — mainly beliefs and expectations — were a major determinant of our health. So, in addition to mentally dismissing these particular “plans” for my future, I made a point of actively resisting the negative programming so normalized into daily life that no one even notices it.
Whenever I heard someone say, “Put on a coat or you’ll catch cold,” I’d think to myself, “The temperature isn’t the problem; the belief that it will make us sick is.” I was willing to wear a coat if I needed it for comfort, but I wasn’t buying into the ‘fear of sickness from cold air’ thing. I shrugged off the bizarre rule not to swim for 30 minutes after eating. If digestion were really that risky, we’d be taking other precautions as well like not driving or operating heavy equipment.
Even the “sensible” advice, like avoiding sick people or making sure they didn’t sneeze on me, seemed unnecessary. I considered myself well able to fight off the harmful microbes that crossed my threshold twenty-four/seven. For the most part, the strategy worked. Now that I’m too old to get grounded, I’ll admit that ninety-five percent of the time I stayed home sick from school, I was faking it. (Sorry, Mom.)
But infertility was a tougher challenge. I wasn’t getting anywhere by “thinking my way out of it,” and nothing else seemed to be helping, either. When I heard the way Graf Stress Management worked, it sounded like what I needed: a way to harness the connection between my mind and my body, as opposed to the vague visualizations and hit-or-miss affirmations I’d tried.
My consultation with Dr. Graf lasted about an hour and a half. I was asked a series of questions to pinpoint my stresses — and surprisingly, there were many I hadn’t guessed. The specifics are private but in broad strokes, the main stress preventing conception was my subconscious fear that my own children would reject me.
My intelligence responded by making sure I didn’t become pregnant, protecting me from a situation I feared. (And the stress can be the father’s just as easily as the mother’s.) Exactly how did the intelligence do this — by preventing ovulation, fertilization, implantation? I don’t know, and I don’t need to know… not that I wouldn’t like to. But ultimately, my job is not to micromanage my body, but to take care of my stress and let my body take care of running itself.
When the appointment was over, I felt entirely different from when I’d walked in: peaceful, excited, as if floating. I couldn’t believe the amount of stress I’d released and how wonderful I felt when it was gone. That alone would have been worth the visit. But better still, I was delighted to learn very soon afterward that I was pregnant. I never again had fertility problems.