I am writing today to address some misconceptions we all tend to have around healing: what it is, what it looks like, what it feels like. Here's the thing: we tend to think that healing equals feeling better. Sometimes, however, healing requires feeling worse, sometimes it involves chaos, breaking down and disturbance. Sometimes to really heal, we have to go deep into the dark and it's not until we emerge on the other side that we realize we've been healed. I can say that as a healer, I always want my patients to leave feeling better than when they came in. Partly, I just want to alleviate people's suffering, and partly I know it is unlikely they will recognize the possible benefits of feeling worse. This is how it happens though sometimes - a healing can cause more distress. So before you go worrying about why this or that symptom isn't getting better, why you can't get over old traumas or mental loops, why new issues pop up just when you think you're making progress, lets look at some of the surprising ways healing works and how it can unexpectedly show up in our lives.
Healing is not a linear phenomenon.
While we tend to come from the place of thinking about healing as a linear process, feeling bad - straight line - feeling better, it is anything but. It's more like a spiral, with some blockades and diversions, and maybe a few snare traps along the way. Just when you think you've gotten over something, it reappears. You get worse when you think you should be getting better. No matter what you try, nothing is helping!!! You keep re-experiencing the same symptoms over and over. Often, our bodies need to keep coming back to a symptom or problem to try and heal it, bring our attention to it, and/or to clear it from the body. Read on and I hope by the end of the article, you will have a better understanding of why things happen like this. And, hopefully, you will avoid falling into hopelessness, frustration and despair when your healing journey takes you on a diversion or throws you around a loop in it's spiral course.
Healing comes in disguise.
Sometimes healing shows up in strange places. Its certainly not limited to our experience with doctors, healers and therapists. Sometimes a crisis, life-changing event or trauma are the things we need most to push us onto our path of healing. When we experience negative events, it is easy to get caught up in the "how could this happen, my life is ruined?" mindset. Believe me, I've been there. But often these experiences have a deeper significance that we can't see in the moment. I have so often heard the story of healers who came to their path through a health crisis that they recovered from with some alternative modality that they then go on to practice as their life's work. At the time, the healing crisis may have seemed like the end of the world, but it was just what they needed to find the work they are most passionate about. A serious illness doesn't look like healing, but in a larger sense, that's just what it provided. Healing in disguise.
Healing involves lessons.
Which brings me to my next point - healing often involves lessons, and sometimes they are ones we'd rather not learn, at least not the way they are presented in our lives. Challenge comes in all forms and it is often a powerful teacher and healer. That person you can't stand, the job you hate, the relationship that is so hard for you, life circumstances that aren't to your liking, challenges to your physical health - its all there to teach you something and help you on your path to wholeness. The less we react and get caught up in negative thought patterns, the more we can see what these things are trying to show us. This is an important part of our inner work and it is also one of the biggest challenges we face as humans. It is useful to reflect on this in any situation that is causing you distress. What lessons or messages are being offered here? What in my life might I be ignoring or refusing to accept? As difficult as it is, this is where the true healing can begin. Life is sending you messages all the time. If you ignore them they just keep getting louder and louder until you finally give them the attention they've been asking for. Try to start listening sooner.
Healing is messy.
So if healing is not linear and shows up in unexpected and challenging situations, turns out, it is often a messy process. Healing comes through chaos and disruption, through change and unrest. It is easy to get complacent or set in our ways without realizing it. Then something comes along to shake things up, to change our ways of thinking and being in order to help us continue on in a new way, to help us stay on our path, to help us make needed changes when the time comes. We spend so much time resisting, being stubborn, freaking out, being in fear or anger and finding all the reasons why what's happening is not ok. What if you could just say, "hmmm, this is not what I would have chosen, but lets just see what happens". Or, "maybe this chaos is happening for a reason". In our current times, this is a very useful practice. And by not getting into major reactive modes, we spare our bodies and minds an incredible amount of wear-and-tear. Approached from this perspective, once things settle out, you might be surprised at the outcomes, for both you and for the situation as a whole.
Healing involves more than just the body.
In our western world, the tendency is to think of physical symptoms as being discrete experiences, unrelated to our minds, emotions or spirits. But nothing could be further from the truth. In my opinion, a majority of physical health problems have their root in the mental/emotional/spiritual realm. When a symptom arises, it is often a message that something in our lives is not working. A circumstance, relationship, habit, belief or thought pattern. Once you start tuning in to your body, you will start to see how this is true. So sometimes, that symptom you can't get rid of in spite of eating the right foods and taking the right supplements, is because you need to stop bottling up your anger, quit you job, stop thinking negative thoughts about yourself or your body, or heal that outmoded belief you picked up from your family or culture. Healing these kinds of things can require going deep and exploring thoughts and beliefs you may not even be aware of in your normal conscious life. But the pay-off is great and often, this is just what is needed before a physical problem can truly resolve.
Healing sometimes looks like a crisis.
Here's a funny thing about healing: sometimes it requires getting worse before getting better. In medicine, this is known as the healing crisis, and it refers to when our bodies are suddenly trying to unload a bunch of toxins and our systems of elimination can't keep up. This causes uncomfortable and sometimes dramatic symptoms in the body. I have seen that this kind of reaction can occur with mental/emotional/spiritual work as well, and it can look a lot of different ways. I've noticed that in times of transitions, transformations and upgrades, our bodies often have to re-experience symptoms in order to release them and also to catch up with what's happening on the emotional/spiritual plane. This can sometimes make us feel like we are going backwards, but in reality, its like we're clearing out the sludge so that we can come out lighter on the other side. It can be very frustrating when you are in the midst of it, but keeping a positive mindset helps immensely. And it is important to be aware that this is how things sometimes work; otherwise, the progress made might be missed completely. So if you've been working through something, don't despair if things don't improve right away. Stay clear on the vision of what you are working towards, and chances are, improvement will come on the far side of challenge and set-back.
Recognizing healing in your life requires an expanded perspective.
Next time you start freaking out about a symptom, a situation, an upheaval in your life or body, take a pause. What is the larger perspective here? Could this be healing in disguise? Could my symptom be actually a sign of healing instead of dis-ease? What is the message here? There is so much to be learned by doing this! And this is a powerful way to fast-track your healing process and stress a lot less along the way, which, by the way, is good for your health:). I might also mention here that intention is a powerful thing. Intend that you are on a healing path, keep putting in the effort, making the needed changes, and be clear about what you want to resolve. Also, ask for help, be it from the earthly or spiritual plane. Make progress your mindset and worry less about what is happening in your physical reality. Don't ignore it, mind you - listen to and take care of your body by all means!! Just don't let it throw you off mentally and emotionally when you have to take another trip around the spiral. If you can do this, I guarantee the results you will see in your healing process, as well as your experience of it, will be greatly improved.
Many blessings on your healing journey!