Healing is the process of becoming or making whole (from the Anglo-Saxon word haelen, to make whole). This means regaining physical, emotional, intellectual, and/or spiritual health. Healing involves releasing illness and regaining wholeness.
Healing has an infinite variety of forms. The only way to evaluate any single method is as a positive catalyst of change. Scientists “objectively” measure healing; empiricists “can tell” if it works. But the person being healed either feels better or doesn’t. The quintessence of healing is being well.
There are three basic components of healing: love, technique, and belief. Almost all professional and academic schools heavily emphasize technique. Practitioners (such as physicians, psychologists, nurses) spend years acquiring vast amounts of knowledge. This knowledge, hopefully, forms the foundation for the healing techniques and rituals that are called clinical skills. In stressful, competitive, and frequently mismanaged and antihumanitarian environments (such as hospitals, universities, health centers), healthcare practitioners develop their skills.
Even as caring and empathy become recognized as healing qualities, they are valued and applied far less than “scientific techniques.” Early in their education, students learn that successful mastery of knowledge is prized much more than personal sensitivity, growth, and love.
Health professionals are trained to be skilled technicians. Those that are also sensitive nurturing helpers are so because of who they are, not their education. They deeply value the needs, rights, and feelings of the individual receiving care, but often have much difficulty surviving in the health care establishment. The health orientation of most professionals in the United States is disease and treatment rather than education, prevention, and self-care. This has created a system where efficiency is synonymous with care.
Because of our dangerous national economic priorities, we expend more money and energy preparing to destroy rather than healing life. Combine: economic distribution, the plutomania (money addiction/greed) of many health care professionals, and the false belief that only extensively trained healers can heal, and we have a society with a tremendous scarcity of legitimized healers. And the entry of new healers is restricted.
Those mysterious components of healing, love and belief, are gradually being explored by the professional community. Although a healer’s belief that he or she has the power to heal is important, more critical is the belief of the person being healed. There are placebo studies in which groups of people are given a medicine or an inactive substance (the placebo), and people who believe they are taking the medicine even if they aren’t develop its symptoms. Similar experiments often show that people develop no symptoms when given a medicine and are told that it is a placebo. The power to heal rests within the person who is ill. People who believe they will become well heal much faster than the doubtful and resigned. The elitism of modern medicine, which separates a person from illness, creates a regime of belief in much the same way as an Indian’s elaborate healing dance or the singing and praying of a faith healer.
I believe that love is the ultimate healing power. Love is that undefinable transcendental state when we are in union, when we are truly whole. When we love, we are not doing something called “loving,” instead we are love. As applied to healing, love allows a person to dis-believe their dis-ease, and to regain their health. The most effective healers combine love and skill. Love puts them in touch with an immeasureable healing power. Love allows a healer to feel, value, and care for the other person’s pain.
To acknowledge something beyond healer, patient, and tools is to affirm that we are vehicles of the healing process rather than the cause. In doing this, we transcend the limitations of skills, techniques, and medicine, and we overcome the restrictions of illness and disease. If a state of grace exists, it is the grace of love where all things are possible.
I consider myself a healer. This does not mean that I make people well. I am a facilitator, a catalyst of change and wholeness (I work professionally as a psychotherapist and a psychoeducator). I believe that all people have the power to heal themselves. The dis-ease is often not the symptoms but the hurt, lack of love, anger that allowed them to stop nurturing themselves and become whatever kind of sick that they have become. Poor health management is rampant on a societal and individual level. When people realize that they have the ability and wisdom to heal themselves, they become well.
I have a gift of being able to help some people be in touch with their power. I believe that my effectiveness in using this gift is directly proportionate to how open my heart is. Because I feel and work best when I love, this is one discipline with which I continuously work. And it is a discipline, for I am sometimes much more comfortable in the familiar security of my walls of fear and distance than in the uncertainty of love and openness. Inherent in love is risk and the possibility of rejection and loss. I have met very few people who seem to have overcome their fear of loving with a generosity to all.
During the fall, I was walking in a forest with two close friends. I felt distant and critical of them, and I would not loosen up enough to enjoy their company. I did not understand what was happening, but I knew that they were not doing it. Intellectually, I realized that I was afraid, but I did not feel my fright. As the sun set, I lingered by myself in the woods. I laid in the leaves and gently tried to understand. I was feeling very unworthy and was regarding myself as a “failure.” I looked at all the ways I thought that I was a failure and recognized that this was a symptom of something else.
I closed my eyes, and breathed slowly and deeply into myself. Spontaneously, I began to visualize the angry tight mouths of various adults. I started to think the sentences: “Please love me. Please don’t leave me.” I was four years old. I felt exactly as I had at four years. I became braver and, out loud said, “PLEASE LOVE ME. PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME.” I convulsed into tears. I added various people’s names from past and present to these sentences, visualizing their faces as I talked and cried. I stayed with this until I had relieved my tears and fears. I felt tired and cleansed.
The sentences “Please don’t leave me,” and “Please love me” seem to trigger off deep feelings in many human beings that I have known and worked with. Love is essential to our healthy survival as children and adults. Fear of desertion is a primary theme for many of us. Most of us did not receive enough love as we grew up not to have some type of hurt/fear residue. This does not mean that the adults who raised us were not loving or caring. It probably does mean that these adults were still carrying their hurt and fear with them, and were somewhat preoccupied with getting their needs met as well as taking care of us children.
Being in touch with old hurt that is still affecting me in the present is a way that I open myself to myself and other people. I choose not to spend much time or energy lingering in the past and yet I have become able to acknowledge the vast impact that my past does have in the present. One way that I allow myself to love is to explore how I chose to stop feeling love when I was younger, and to open up what I closed because, at that time, in some unconscious way, I thought that I had to close up in order to survive.
Now, I realize that for me to enjoy this life, I want to open my heart and allow myself to love as fearlessly as possible.
I wish you all a healing New Year.