What is healing?
Healing comes in many forms and is not limited to the alleviation of symptoms of an illness. On a soul and consciousness level it can also mean the acceptance of sickness or setback or circumstances, and even the acceptance of impending death, easing the transition from one state to another. Death itself can be also be seen as a great healer, sometimes described as waking up from a dream, the dream of separation, and a return to a state of Oneness.
"Shamanic Death", being born-again or twice-born, or rebirth is the experience all true seekers go through. To renew oneself, the old self has to die. Even le petit mort, the "little death" as orgasm is called in France, is like a reset button. Healing in its many forms can also thus be described and experienced as the ending of the dream of separation, the "tyranny of the ego".
A healer is someone who can impart and share the feeling or experience of oneness, of connection, of union with life, with the ground and source of our being. A healer can be a teacher of yoga or meditation, a philosopher, a writer, a dancer or musician or artist, a social worker, a psychologist, or any person with love in their heart and the impulse to help others.
If we limit our understanding of healing to the treatment of symptoms we will be paying attention only to the physical world, negating the entire realm of energy, emotion, mind, consciousness and karmic debts. If we are able to remove symptoms, and if we do so without assisting the patient in changing the thoughts and feelings and patterns of consciousness that created the problem, they could reoccur, or appear in another form. Our concern for the patient or client needs to be for their whole being, including their spiritual growth. As body-workers we have a great opportunity to assist our clients when we learn to read the body and it’s energies, which are often a clear mirror or reflection of the more subtle levels of emotion and mind.
Every illness also has a purpose and comes with a gift. Every ailment is reflecting a state of imbalance, a dis-ease. By discovering what is out of balance, often on an emotional or mental level, but also in diet, environment and even in life purpose, we can assist a client towards a deeper healing that goes beyond just the physical symptoms they experience. Discomfort is calling us to a greater level of comfort and self knowledge. Usually this call might start as a whisper. Our goal as spiritual beings having a physical experience is to learn to listen to those whispers from the body. They are also messages from the subconscious and super conscious, from our “angels and guides”, We all need to learn to read energetic data - messages from this entangled universe where everything is connected. If we ignore the whispers, the pain and discomfort increases, until it becomes a shout. And then, if we still don’t pay any attention, and shut out the signs and voices with other distractions, or by taking medications or pain killers to mask the symptoms, then the flow of data diminishes, and our systems shut down, and break down, and our health and vitality declines, and toxic build up increases, making way for degenerative diseases.
The body can be seen as a mirror, or a sounding board, for our consciousness. More than that, it is also an antenna, and can transmit and receive information. Our chakra system is like a series of transformers that can translate and transmute energy between the gross and subtle levels of being. When we are in a state of perfect health, we have more access to natural abilities and instincts. What we might experience as intuition, a sense of knowing-ness, is also a fully functional gut feeling. In Chinese Medicine the gut, or more accurately the Tan Tien, the energy center in the belly, is known as the lower brain. When you have a healthy gut, and your energy system is functioning well, then we have intuitive knowledge of whether something is right for us or not - food, situations, people, projects, etc. AND you produce 75% of serotonin, the "happiness hormone" in your gut.
We are multidimensional beings, and integration of our physical, emotional, mental, energetic and spiritual being is what healing is all about. Healing is about finding our fullest potential, not just being free of illness. If we limit our understanding of health to the absence of illness, we are missing the true purpose of life on earth. Healing could therefore be seen, not just from the angle of physical illness, but as the journey towards wholeness, as the journey towards enlightenment. Healing, goes beyond illness. The ultimate healing experience is to see the inherent perfection of one's being. As a therapist, the highest form of healing, is to see past the mistakes your client has made, the mistaken and limited identity they've assumed, and to see and acknowledge their inherent perfection, and to remind them of that.
Our healing work with clients puts us in an ideal position to effect change on many levels and to facilitate the raising of consciousness, not just in an individual, but for an entire society. No person’s mind is isolated. As we, and our clients, become more integrated, more kind and loving, the whole world becomes more integrated, kind and loving.
In Chinese medicine the highest form of healing is philosophy - healing the mind or spirit. Spiritual practices (sadhana) like yoga, meditation, prayer, invocations, Tai Chi and Qi Gong and religious practices, and ceremonies and rituals that heal our fractured consciousness and bring a sense of peace and wholeness, are all part of this field of healing.
In Buddhism we are taught to overcome our conditioning and learned responses and to return to a state of unconditioned being. Many teachers talk about unlearning what we have learned. Certainly we need to unlearn much of what our parents and society taught us, and the continuance of typical familial patterns, such as abuse, low self-esteem, depression and anxiety are often learned behaviour. We are taught separation from a very early age, and especially our capitalist society thrives on competitive models, and the consumerist illnesses of greed and accumulation are only possible with very strong ego identification.
The identification with the "action figure", the body-mind, and the identification with race/gender/class/personality is ingrained through modern education and socialization and is a deep indoctrination into not knowing the True Self, which can only be described as formless, timeless and pure awareness – the “God” self. We can be free from all conditions by releasing our identifications, our attachments and the need to "be somebody". When we want access to universal energy, when we want to be a channel of pure energy, we need to be able to drop this personal drama, your life story, the imagination that you are a “person”, and not the divine light itself. Or....if life is: you telling yourself a story, make it a good story!
Even this state of "enlightenment", might not be free of physical illnesses, and accepting a disease, sometimes as an opportunity to pay off a karmic debt, or a means to learn compassion through experiencing suffering, or just the need to rest the body, and an opportunity to be vulnerable and ask for help, or a “burning” of the ego, represents in this case growth or healing.
Ultimately the most important question you can ask yourself is "who am I?". At the temple of Apollo in Delphi, the seeker, before consulting the oracle, would see the words "Know Thyself" written above the door as they entered. Jesus spoke the words: "I am the way". Misinterpreted or appropriated by religion, these words point towards the presence of the divine within. The “I am” is used in many mystical traditions. Ramana Maharshi posed that phrase as the door to knowledge, so did Nisargadatta. The western esoteric tradition of the Ascended Masters also primarily poses the instruction: contemplate the “I am presence”.
Unexplained spontaneous remissions do occur. Cancers and other "incurable" diseases can sometimes disappear in no time at all. Our beliefs affect the continuation or collapse of patterns of time and causation. You might have been brought up to believe cancer takes time to heal. In some cultures miraculous healings are expected. Expect the unexpected! As Nisagadatta says: Only the unexpected, the unpredictable, is real. The rest is contrived, second hand, stale.
"You create your own reality" is a new age adage, and certainly quantum mechanics has shown that our expectation and belief affects the outcome of experiments. That you cannot separate the observer from what is observed. Our inner dialogue is shaping our world. When you go through a major shift in consciousness, an awakening to a new way of thinking and responding to the world, your very cells may change.
The use of affirmations can be tremendously powerful. If life is: you telling yourself a story, then make it a good story. Change the narrative. There is no substitute for meditation, and being able to perceive your inner dialogue and distance yourself from it, knowing it as learned programming. Giving yourself time and space to explore other possibilities of consciousness and awareness could be your most valuable possession or tool.
What is a healer?
Of course there are many forms of legitimate healing, including working with medicines, both natural plants, herbs, tonics, flower essences, homeopathy as well as modern chemical derivatives and surgery. Also there is psychology and psychiatry in all its many forms. There is a great world of technical knowledge of substances and methods, and in the field of energy medicine too there is value in the knowledge and accuracy of techniques for clearing energy blockages with massage, and acupuncture, and more subtle forms of healing with sound and light, etc. When it comes to pure energy healing we are talking about the healer as a channel of universal healing energy. Someone who does Reiki is a Reiki channel – a channel of universal healing energy. There are many different schools and techniques being taught today. Training in any form often acts as a trigger or "permission slip" that allows you to access and develop your natural gift of healing.
There are a few key differences between a skilled bodywork technician and a healer. This can sometimes be described as a good bedside manner, a doctor who cares. When we enter into the realm of laying-on-of-hands healing, electro-magnetism, and the transference of energy from the healer to the patient, or the channelling of universal energy from the cosmos to the patient, we can discuss the aspects that determine the making of a good healer. These are things we can keep in mind, although we can never be definitive when it comes to explaining how and what happens - healing is usually an occurrence outside of normal space and time reality. We can describe a healer as someone who has pure intention, is largely a whole and healthy person themselves, and able to be completely present and in the moment, available to and able to access that world of infinite energy, without the personal dramas and life-story and ego that interferes with this process. We can talk about how we can prepare ourselves, train, and become that person. We can discuss the difference between someone who does this work as a calling, or someone who is merely performing this service as on occupation. None of this is as important as the thing called LOVE. As mentioned earlier, overcoming the feeling of separation is the essence of healing - convincing the person that they are not alone. Reminding them of their true natural state, infinite being, and immersing them in that universal force called love, from where they come, their natural home.
Some call this love forgiveness. (For many, the crucial thing is often to forgive yourself.) Removing mental and emotional patterns of guilt, shame and blame, is a simple path towards healing. Let your client know that they can wipe the slate clean, asking for forgiveness from those that you have hurt or harmed in any way, whether intentionally or unintentionally, knowingly or unknowingly, in this life or another, in this world or another. And forgiving those that have harmed or hurt you in any way whether intentionally or unintentionally, knowingly or unknowingly, in this life or another, in this world or another. “Anger is punishing yourself for someone else’s mistake”. Judgement is an expensive waste of energy, but discernment is much needed. Learning to read energetic data, including hearing the voice of your higher self, your guides, angels, can help you to stay away from disharmonious places and people.
Illnesses also have their own timing, of their coming and going, sometimes as a condition of the collectively held beliefs of the tribe. (Collectively we in a Western tribe might believe that cancer will take time to heal, while in some indigenous cultures there is a stronger belief in “miracles” and spontaneous remissions might occur more often). Illnesses also come with a gift - every person needs to find out what has created this illness, there is a message for you from your body or your subconscious that can help you grow personally and spiritually. Often you need to accept the gift before the illness can depart. What benefit does the illness bring you? Can you give that to yourself?
There might be a need for humility, a need to allow others to help you, a need to be quiet for a while. Illness often takes so much energy that the patient does not have the mental energy for thinking and this in itself can be a benefit – a forced meditation period. The message: Just be, accept surrender. The role of the healer is not to just remove the illness/symptom, as this might rob the patient of the insight needed not to recreate the imbalance. It is important for therapist and client/patient both to address the whole being, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
What is energy/chi/prana? What is health? What is energy medicine?
In Eastern Medicine, there is a major emphasis on the flow of energy. Illness occurs when there is a blockage in the flow of energy, or an imbalance, or either a lack of or too much energy in a certain area. Healing therefore occurs when the blockage is removed, the balance restored, excess released, or insufficiency augmented.
Good health can be described as a condition in which there is an uninterrupted flow of energy throughout the whole body. This is also true for mental and emotional health - the absence of energy patterns that cause stagnation and inhibit the natural freedom of the mind, heart and belly. The causes of physical ailments and energy blockages are often these very same mental and emotional patterns, or negative energies, such as stress, depression, anxiety and other thoughts and feelings that seem to lodge themselves and repeat automatically - our conditioned responses. In yoga philosophy called samskaras, and in Pali, sanskaras. Sounds like scars. These are conditioned grooves our thoughts and emotions follow. Every experience we have that has an emotional component, whether positive or negative, creates a memory. (Strangely, memories feel like home, and we tend to recreate the feelings and relationships that represent them). Some memories remain, and some fade away. Just like a line drawn in water that disappears immediately, some impressions are fleeting. Like a line drawn on the beach sand, some impressions and memories are not there for long, but some are like a line carved in rock, and remain for years or a lifetime. At the end of your day, you might only remember some things that happened to you, and at the end of the week, less. At the end of the month or year, only certain impressions remain, those charged with emotional energy, often ego reactions. After many years, there are some aspects of your childhood that still affect you, and some believe at the end of your life, you will carry with you any impressions or experiences that were the most powerful and that remain in your consciousness. If you believe in past lives, it is then clear that we are born with some “scars”, or karma, that may cause problems, but can be healed or worked through with various forms of energy medicine, meditation, and emotional process work. Some might see our personal afflictions as collective or universal burdens that we carry for humanity. (If the individual/separate self does not exist, what is it that re-incarnates?)
Some who choose to be healers in this life will incarnate into a situation where they are able to experience a disease first hand, via DNA or a toxic family environment. They then become an expert in that field, and once they heal themselves of that disease, (or pattern of abuse or low self-esteem, etc,) they become a healer of that disease. E.g. a person who has never been depressed cannot help a person who is depressed. Their words are not believable.
Notwithstanding the fact that we do seem to incarnate with "stuff" to deal with - karmic patterns, we also can be aware of the influences that affect our lives and consciousness from the moment of conception, including the act of conception itself, the gestation period in the womb, (the womb environment, toxins or lack of nutrition, and the emotional and mental state of the mother), and the birth experience itself. Childhood experiences are fundamentally important in shaping our later lives. Famously the Jesuits proclaimed: give me the child until the age of 7 and I will give you the man. As healers of humans and human society, we should be deeply concerned that children are raised so as not to become mentally and emotionally scarred. The extended family structure of the past and of past and present indigenous societies are especially conducive to children growing up with enough attention and love, often from aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents if per chance one or both of the parents are not able to be present. The modern nuclear family is often deficient in providing the atmosphere of a wider connected society of people who care for one another.
And thus we are dealing with multiple types of "scar tissue", especially mental and emotional, that affect the flow of electro-magnetic energy in our bodies and "light bodies".
Called bio-electricity in some Western studies, Prana in India, Chi in China, Ki in Japan, and many other names in other indigenous cultures, we are talking about the life force which animates our bodies. Our fundamental approach in energy medicine is to become aware of the world of energy in and around our bodies, minds and feelings. Words and concepts such as the aura, chakras, energy lines, meridians, etheric field, all describe this energy field on the personal level, and on the wider universal level, the matrix, the quantum field, and even called the Mind of God, by Einstein.
This quantum field, of sub-atomic energy, has been shown to respond to the thoughts and expectations of researching scientists. It is influenced by all the other levels of energy, from gross to subtle. Everything is interrelated and entangled. Everything affects everything else, but can also be separated into different systems, fields or levels of energy. Different states or levels of density can be demonstrated as the different state of ice, water and steam of the same element - H2O. The Chakra system also describes the different densities of reality, the different matrices we engage in during our earthly existence.
Healing the healer. Shadow aspects of healers.
Burnout is a common experience in the helping professions. Not only in body workers, but also in social workers, doctors, psychologists, etc. There is a fundamental shadow aspect in the helping professions that needs to be addressed, and that is that people who want to help others are usually in need of help themselves, and are often masking their own need, or believe that in helping others, they themselves will be helped in return. They very often are unable to ask for help themselves.
Masking your own need, and never seeing yourself as a patient or in need of help from others is an aspect of pride and ego. It is vitally important to keep in touch with your own needs, making sure that you get rest when needed, take time off from your work, and take time for yourself, both recreationally, following your own passions and interests, and for your own healing. Exchanging treatments with other therapists is one way of staying healthy. You can also enhance your own skills by learning from other therapists as you receive treatments from them.
Needing others to get better, being invested in an outcome, and getting a good feeling from others getting better is itself also a common trap or shadow aspect of the healer. Many help others in order to get a feeling of power, or to feel better about themselves. The shadow aspect of the healer/helper will always need to be the helper, and will not feel useful or valuable unless they are helping other people. They will also often get involved in intimate relationships with people who need help.
This healer’s shadow can also become personally tied up with the patient's process if during or after a treatment you remain overly concerned about the outcome of the treatment. If you are invested in seeing a result, you not only taint the therapy with your own ego, but also can let yourself be drained of energy. Your attention needs to be in the moment. You perform your task and give of yourself totally, then allow the healing to take place by stepping away from the client, recharging yourself, and letting the therapeutic benefits of treatment take place if and when it is appropriate. As mentioned before, an illness might have it’s own timing, and a client might have their own process or contract to complete. A common and ancient prayer to use when you perform your work is: "If the universe wills it, so be it." Being present without judgement or attachment, and without being overly concerned and invested in an outcome, will allow the client or patient the space they need to heal themselves. We're just the cleaning crew, says Rosalyn Bruyére.
Much of our effectiveness as bodywork therapists and energy healers will be the result of our own state of health, energy levels, degree of wholeness and well-being, happiness, cantered-ness, calmness, emotional integration and the congruency of our heart and mind. We cannot separate our work from our own spiritual and personal development and growth. In essence, you will be imparting and sharing your own awareness, state of mind and knowing. You teach and share what you know and what you are, or believe yourself to be. You also teach what you most need to learn! Never stop learning. Never assume that you know everything. Become a good learner! Learn from every person and situation.
The Wounded Healer
As mentioned, helpers often need help themselves and are drawn to this profession due to their own need for healing, or the awareness of the need for healing for humanity through their own sensitivity, suffering or wounded-ness. On a soul level, a person might decide to incarnate for a specific purpose, such as to heal a specific malady of the human psyche, and will then take on the circumstances and allow experiences that will give them that specific wound. Many people are not able to conceive of complicity from the soul in allowing abuse and violence to happen to a young child. To have the feeling of being in control of your own life beaten out of you can create the opportunity for the person to eventually overcome not only their own victim patterning, possible from past lives, but also, in healing themselves and sometimes the situation and the other people involved, by speaking up and confronting injustice, and also through acceptance and forgiveness, heal and uplift a whole community. When you overcome an obstacle, and learn to love yourself, no matter what, you make it easier for other people to overcome the same obstacles. I know of women who incarnated in very abusive conditions who have become great teachers and healers and are facilitating the re-emergence of the divine feminine in our society. Louise Hay is a great example.
In the traditional African healing world, one is called to the path of the Sangoma, or “witch doctor”, or healer, by your ancestors. Many times this calling happens in the form of an illness that cannot be cured by any method. The diviners might then receive information from the spirit world that this illness is a calling from your ancestors to receive training as a healer, and the illness disappears once that training commences.
The archetype of the Bodhisattva, the ultimate archetype of the healer in Buddhism. The vow of the Boddhisattva, "I forgo the final stage of enlightenment and liberation from the earthly plain until all sentient beings are enlightened." The bodhisattva is a Buddha that has returned to our world to serve others.
An old Buddhist Text by Shantideva Buddhisattva:
The Key of becoming a Bodhisattva:
One who wishes to protect oneself and others quickly,
should practice exchanging oneself for others,
which is a great mystery.
All those who are unhappy in the world are so
as a result of their desire for their own happiness.
All those who are happy in the world are so
as a result of their desire for the happiness of others.
Note the difference between the fool who seeks his own benefit,
and the sage who works for the benefit of others.
One who does not exchange his own happiness for the suffering of others,
surely does not achieve Buddhahood.
How could one find happiness even in the cycle of existence?
in order to alleviate my own suffering and to alleviate the suffering of others,
I give myself up to others, and I accept others as my own self.
This high form of altruism needs to be seen in relative terms. As we journey towards this lofty goal, we need to be aware of our own needs and emotions, of our own healing. Make sure you have oil in your lamp in order to be a light to the world. Heal Thyself! Know Thyself! The path of the heart, the spiritual journey, is only possible with self love. Being a bodhisattva is the final step. The fundamental error will always be the ego, seeing yourself as better or different or separate from others. The spiritual journey is also a walk on the razor’s edge. Love your self, but know that that same self is what you share with all beings. I am another you.
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