Thursday, April 05, 2007

Deep Healing Journeys

There are run of the mill healing moments -- getting over a cold or healing an ankle sprain, a broken leg or some other common event -- and then there are long lasting illnesses, chronic patterns and more life-threatening events that become healing journeys of a much deeper and potentially life-changing order. I've had to deal with a number of these in my life, one in childhood, and a significant one or two as an adult. None responded to conventional medical care, none could go away on their own and they all allowed me to look at the interaction of mind, body and spirit in ways that those less involved conditions ever can.

Have a headache? Yeah, it might have come because of the things you wished you could have said but didn't say to your boss, but chances are you don't have to take a good look at that to get over it. You just take a couple of aspirin, lie down and go to bed. But when you have a condition that has lasted years and limits your life in significant enough ways. . . well, then you have a good chance to try a few things the average person wouldn't touch, and if you find that addressing the deeper meaning of your distress does you some good, you keep going down that path and never look back.

At this point in my life, after having completely healed myself of completely debilitating conditions more than once, I think that our bodies serve as a mouthpiece for a deeper, higher, aspect of ourselves that wants the best for us and helps us achieve our highest potential. Unfortunately (from our limited everyday perspective), this aspect of ourselves may be in direct conflict with what our conscious personality-based self thinks it wants.

For example, I once wanted to live with my ex-husband in harmony forever. If I had been told that my future lay in challenging this relationship -- what I considered to be the very foundation of my safety in the world -- I would have run away screaming. Yet through having no other choice and by following my inner promptings and facing my innermost fears I learned that my greatest dreams depend on me finding and learning to depend on my inner strength instead of depending exclusively on someone else alone. I'm not at this point sure where my future lies but it is clear to me that the painful changes John and I had to make in our relationship have made me stronger, more self-assured and capable of being an equal partner with both him as a friend, with Paul as my new partner, in my business relationships, and with whomever I choose to be with in whatever way in the future. It had to happen and the benefits outweigh the pain.

When we embark on a process of healing we often believe our goal is to relieve our physical pain or limitations so we can get back to living the status quo. It's a rare human being who relishes the thought of challenging belief systems we have based our whole way of life upon. Yet, that is exactly what the healing journey entails for many of us. It's a call to awaken to our full potential. It's a call to heal not only our physical selves but our emotional and spiritual relationship with All That Is, everything that makes up our individual lives and beyond. If our lives are based on a limiting belief system that squashes our soul's ability to express itself to the fullest extent possible, a healing crisis may call upon us to change choices we made based on those beliefs. We might expect to make changes in what we eat, how often we exercise or other lifestyle-related habits. What we don't usually anticipate is the requirement to change jobs, move across the country, get divorced or change our current circle of friends.

Caroline Myss, in her book Why People Don't Heal and How They Can, says that fear of upsetting the status quo keeps us from making healing choices and understandably so. Making the kind of life changes I was just talking about is akin to jacking up your house to replace a bad foundation. Having done just that after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, I know firsthand how disruptive such an experience can be. If you're not lucky and extremely careful you can lose the whole house in the process. If you are lucky there's still an enormous amount of structural and cosmetic damage that has to be repaired. It can take years to do this kind of work and it requires a lot of emotional fortitude and support.

But, of course, the process isn't always about disrupting your entire way of life. To be honest, frequently it just feels that way because we interpret the need for change as a major big deal. It usually isn't. Most of the time we have to come to accept some aspect of reality as it is and learn to work with it more skillfully. For example, learning through divorce to live and let live has allowed me to let go of issues that in my old relationship with John seemed like the kiss of death. Now I see it differently. Those issues still exist in the life I've created on my own. (Damn!) And I can't blame him for it now. It's up to me to accept things as they are, and to believe through noticing the example of people who have been through similar experiences and succeeded (my ex-husband luckily happens to be an example) that continuing to follow the trail of what really matters most will carry us along.

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