What Is Healing?

DoorI have come to find in my explorations that one of the most profound and transformative questions I could ever ask is, “What is healing?” The answer to this question seems obvious at first, but if we are willing to dive deep into this inquiry, the less certain the answer becomes. I have come to believe that healing is an ongoing process — a journey, not a destination.

A Common View of Healing

pillsThe way that I had viewed and approached healing up until a few years ago is probably fairly typical, at least among those of us with the privilege of having easy access to western medicine. The most common way we approach healing from this perspective is to look for ways to fix, cure, or get rid of diseases or conditions, or at least alleviate or lesson the symptoms associated with these conditions. If we are “cured” in this way, this is considered healing. In fact, incredible advances have been made along these lines in both western and eastern medicine, all with the goal of addressing root causes to diseases and conditions in the hopes that we may cure, fix, or get rid of health issues. Western medicine typically utilizes pharmaceutical drugs and surgery to this end, while alternative and eastern medicine (when applied with this perspective and using this approach) might focus on using nutritional approaches, herbal remedies, and/or work to correct underlying structural or energetic imbalances.

Healing As a Process

I have found the approach to healing and the perspective described above has provided me with innumerable benefits and has been of utmost importance in my life. I feel incredibly privileged to have access to this kind of medicine. At the same time, I also found myself running up against its limitations and began to wonder if there may be an even more complete picture of healing to explore. Anyone in chronic pain or living with a conglomeration of mystery symptoms that no one can figure out or diagnose understands the limitations of the approach described above. In my case, I have run into the most limitations in the field of mental health. Also, there is the simple fact that, at some point, we cannot be healed from this perspective. That is, our bodies will die. And yet I have witnessed incredible healing taking place, even in those whose bodies are dying.

There is a broader perspective we can take in regards to healing that is even more holistic and farther reaching in its implications for our overall well-being than the typical view of health. This approach to healing includes the direct approaches described above but with a fundamental shift in our relationship with ourselves and the conditions we are facing. This happens through the direct experience and realization that there is much more to us than the pain we are feeling and the insatiable desire for it to stop. Instead of healing from our conditions, in this healing process we begin to shift our perspectives in such a way that we heal through our conditions. We begin to see the condition itself as a means of healing, rather than that which we need to get rid of in order to heal. This does not mean that we don’t want the condition to go away. It also does not mean we give up on ever being free of the condition. (In fact, many conditions that cannot be adequately treated in the typical approach to healing can and do resolve through this Healing process.) But what it does mean is that in this Healing process, we begin to shift our focus away from resisting the condition and instead start to notice that there is a part of us not enmeshed in the suffering, a part that is in fact not suffering at all. As we explore, experience, and embody this part of us, we can begin to meet the suffering parts of us in an entirely novel way. This “meeting” is the essence of the Healing process.

Steps In the Process of Healing

My brain likes linear processes and models that I can understand logically. Unfortunately, the process of healing is not linear. Nonetheless, I would like to lay out for you aspects or “steps” in the process of healing to give your mind something to orient to as you work with me, with other healthcare practitioners, or on your own.

Spiral stairs in Saint Istvan Basilika in Budapest

  • Taking responsibility.  The first step in the healing process is the movement out of victim consciousness. Victim consciousness is the belief that our suffering is someone else’s fault or a result of (or intrinsic within) some condition or circumstance we are experiencing. Here, we begin to recognize that no matter what condition we are facing, how we relate to that condition is our responsibility and no one else’s. We begin to take responsibility for our own responses as we realize our responses are our own and are not controlled by other people, conditions, or circumstances. This step is in itself an ongoing process.
  • Understanding the nature of suffering.  I discuss the nature of suffering in my blog, “What Is Suffering? I strongly encourage you to check it out now if you haven’t already. This is important to understand because it can be a basis and motivation for moving on to the next stage of your healing process and for understanding what is happening in sessions with me.
  • Buddha-9897Realizing there is “something else” to who you are other than your suffering.  I often call this “something else” your Heart or your True Nature. It has been called by many other names as well, but names really don’t matter. What does matter is that in this stage, you begin to turn your attention inward and notice there is more to you than the self you thought you were, that there is a part of you that is “witnessing” and is not suffering itself. Meditation is one of the best tools you can utilize for this step. And, it is at this point in the healing process where I can be of great support. Bodywork and energy work is a wonderful way to begin the process of witnessing. You learn to notice your body’s sensations (including pain) and the movement of energy in your system with curiosity rather than animosity. It is here that you begin to notice your own suffering from a completely different perspective. This stage is truly transformational.
  • Experiencing the qualities of your Heart.  As you practice inhabiting the Witness perspective, you naturally start to wonder about the Witness Itself. One of the most important questions on your healing journey may begin to arise within you: Who am I, really? You may begin to explore this question with your mind as you look for explanations about how Reality works and what It is. As you peel back the layers of concepts and beliefs through honest inquiry, you start to experience those qualities of your Heart which are beyond any concepts you already hold. You may also begin to invite in and experience through your body the various qualities of your Heart. Some of these qualities have been given Butterfly (2)names like Joy, Gratitude, Love, Peace, Abundance, Unity, a feeling that “All Is Well,” and many more.  This is another aspect of the healing process where I can be of great support. Not only can you have these experiences spontaneously during a session, but I will also guide you and give you techniques you can use both during the session and at home to facilitate this process.
  • Embracing and Accepting yourself fully and completely.  This is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. You can’t hang out in la-la land forever. At some point on your healing journey, you must engage in the process of accepting and embracing all of who you are, which includes the aspect of you that is suffering and those parts of you that you do not like and therefore suppress. This is sometimes called shadow work because those parts you have suppressed or repressed are often hidden from your conscious awareness. As you learn to connect with and live from your Heart, you can begin the process of turning that light of Compassion and Forgiveness toward the parts of you that are suffering. This is not a sentimental process. It’s practical and necessary. This is when you heartreally begin to listen to that suffering aspect of yourself and actually feel the repressed emotions fully that are underneath the suffering. This will only happen when that part of you that is suffering feels safe (in a neutral, compassionate space) to express all of it — all the pain, all the heartache, all the rejection, the abandonment, the fear, rage, and despair — all of it. This is the crux of the healing process. Healing in this way is not about getting rid of the feelings. It is about accepting them, now and whenever they arise. It is the joining of the Heart and Mind, a mutual embrace in Love, Gratitude, and Forgiveness. This is another aspect of healing where having me there to facilitate can be very helpful.
  • Continual deepening into the embodiment of your Heart expressing as and through You, and expression of your unique gifts through inspired action in the world.
    The process of healing, when approaching it in this way, is not about ending your suffering (although less suffering will be one of the results of healing). Rather, healing is about fully embodying all of who you are and expressing yourself fully in the world. Our world is in a critical stage where a shift must occur if we are to thrive, let alone survive. I believe the only way this shift will occur is if individuals engage in their own personal healing processes and then, coming from that place of embodied Love, take inspired action in the world according to their own unique gifts and passions. Receiving sessions with me at this stage will be absolutely delicious and will enhance your deepening process. This is when it gets really fun!Bird flyingYou can see immediately that the healing process is not necessarily linear. For instance, as you begin to take on the Witness perspective, you could easily move directly into embracing certain aspects of your suffering with Love and Compassion. And it’s not as if moving out of victim consciousness is an easy thing we master in one day! Don’t get to attached to the order of this process. You will likely be engaged in more than one stage at the same time. This is just a basic layout to help orient you as you engage in your healing journey.

Healing Is Ultimately About Self Acceptance and Self Love

I love you, do you love meIn this approach, becoming aware of and experiencing your True Nature and then moving into self acceptance of all aspects of your being, including the suffering aspects, really is the key to healing. Self acceptance eventually turns into self love. In fact, healing is ultimately all about self acceptance on every level. We’ve all heard what a great idea it is to love ourselves, and we may even agree with this philosophy intellectually. But self love does not come about by making logical arguments in your mind about why you deserve to love yourself, analyzing what love is, or reminding yourself that you should love yourself or accept yourself because everyone says that’s what you’re supposed to do. True self acceptance only happens as you realize, through direct experience, the nature of your Heart, of Who You Are. This is not a process of your suffering mind accepting your suffering mind. Instead, it is the process of your Heart embracing your Mind, and your Mind embracing your Heart. When this happens, something incredible emerges: You.

Now What?

offerIf you’ve made your way through all of this information (and it’s a lot!), you are probably at least intrigued about healing on the level I’m describing. If you would like a companion on your journey, I can think of nothing that would be more of an honor for me than to support you through your unique healing process. You’ll probably want to get a sense of what I offer and whether I might be a good match for what you are looking for at this phase of your process. On the next page, I’ll describe a little more about how I support you with in-person or distance sessions as you move through your healing process. I’ll also talk more specifically about what it is I’m doing in a session. So, let’s to head on over to the next page: What I Offer

 

3 thoughts on “What Is Healing?

  1. Pingback: Real Emotion vs. Suffering – Part 1 | Therapeutic Journeys

  2. Pingback: What Is Suffering? | Therapeutic Journeys

  3. Pingback: Change and the Unknown | Therapeutic Journeys

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