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People almost always seek care because they have some pain, symptom or difficult condition that lets them know that life isn’t working and they must make a change. Examples are neck pain, back pain, anxiety, fibromyalgia, depression, or a digestive disturbance like irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s Disease. Or they’re too often impatient or angry with their young child, older parent or partner. All of these are signs of life out of balance.

When we recognize that we can no longer comfortably do our work, enjoy our family or fully participate in our recreation, we know we need help. When we notice the withdrawal from those close to us, we have a big problem … that needs fixing, now.

It is this awareness that our life is no longer working that leads us to seek care.

Through the patterns of the fight-or-flight response in the primitive brain, the nervous system instinctively, unconsciously recognizes pain (physical or otherwise), as a possible threat to survival, something to be avoided. If we can’t avoid it, we get it “treated,” gotten rid of. Part of our survival reflex motivates us to be “cured” as soon as possible. We want to be restored, to how we were before the pain, or condition began.

Our medical system is based upon this premise. Doctors are trained to connect the pain, or symptoms with a label – declare a diagnosis. Then the treatment for that diagnosis begins, to vanquish the symptoms. When we are in pain, or distress, we need that distress to stop. When we hear the diagnosis from the doctor, we trust that the problem has been identified, and that the subsequent treatment will eradicate our problem.

Imagine that I or some other doctor could declare what the problem is, then wave a “magic wand,” or give you the “magic bullet.” “Treatment” will get life back to the way things were before the problem began … symptoms will disappear and you could go right back to your life the way it was.

But hold on … If you were restored to the same state you were before the problem began, with no understanding or awareness of how you got there, wouldn’t you just be set up to end up with the exact same, or similar problem?

When confronted with symptoms, pain or other condition, what if we were to recognize it as a wake up call? What if the symptoms are our body’s way of trying to get our attention, and notice that something needs to change, to pay attention, and do something different? What if symptoms are the path to new understanding, and discovery of how live better?

This highlights the difference between curing and healing.

With curing, the focus is on symptom relief, being restored back to a previous state.

The word “healing” has its origins in the words “whole,” “hale,” and “hearty.” It implies balance, self-empowerment, choice and integration. With healing, the distress is recognized as a signal that we need to change, or attend to some part of life differently. Perhaps it’s to discover something overlooked or ignored. To reconnect with a past injury that has been tucked away, beyond conscious awareness, by the primitive nervous system, because we didn’t have the resources to deal with it at the time.

Curing, and “treatment” is great for buying us time to pay attention to how we are living; to discover what is needed to live with more balance, more harmony in our body/mind. In this way, medicines, surgery and other forms of treatment have great value. They can be a stepping-stone or a rest stop on the path to healing.

Our body/mind thrives in balance and harmony. We have the innate (inborn) ability to heal; healing is a continuous, ongoing process that spirals through a series of stages, each calling for choices that lead to growth, and to live life more effectively.

This enters the realm of art … it is here that we are living life artfully. This means we engage life as it comes to us. We respond rather than react. We connect … with our self, with others and with the community around us.

Obviously, this is a long way from bouncing between problems, symptoms and crises. Yet it’s not that far at all. Considering the money, time and energy we devote to treatment, trying to cure symptoms and escape pain, deciding to heal becomes the only real choice. It is the path to recover energy, vitality and meaning. It is the path to realize our potential, discover Aliveness in life and the experience of connection.

The human body has always amazed me. From childhood I have been fascinated by anatomy and physiology, if only from a child’s point of view in the beginning. In the medical world, there is an unspoken belief that the physical body is a solid thing and that all human bodies have identical or near identical anatomy. I have depended on that as a nurse. I must know the anatomy in order to do my job. I need to know where the muscles are located and where the veins flow. In that paradigm, I assume that each human is built the same and that the physical structure and function is solid and immutable.

When my life began to include healing work and especially bodywork, I had to admit that I wasn’t seeing such solidity. With Therapeutic Touch, of course, the energy field is fantastically fluid and responsive in the moment. I was fascinated to see the solid physical body respond to that energy flexibility in a very palpable way. I have seen bodywork make surprising changes as well. I see the edema in a surgical site minimize and disappear in a time frame usually unknown in a post-operative patient. Muscle spasms soften, posture shifts, extremities lengthen, pain and limited range of motion ease or disappear. Things that as a nurse I accepted as a routine part of recuperation were not as immutable as I believed.

This is what I know: The body has its own wisdom and it shares that wisdom with us when our intent involves working for the highest good. This is the major underlying tenet of Therapeutic Touch and it lies at the basis of many other kinds of healing as well.

How can it be that our bodies understand things while our conscious minds have no clue? This is the magic of natural healing! At the core basis of life there lies an intrinsic force that moves everything towards wholeness. Everything! If we can stay in balance with that force, we embody health. Departure from that pattern leads us into various ways of being ill or diseased. We may depart from that underlying template of wellness through our choice of diet, too much or too little exercise, attitude, exposure to environments that are not part of that pattern of wholeness, emotional experiences and responses that are not balanced, etc, etc. There are lots of ways we fall away from the template of wellness. In the depth of ourselves lies an intimate understanding of what it means to be whole which we derive from our connection to all of life. Our bodies can express this understanding to us as can our emotions, our inner mind, and our spiritual selves. When I begin to work with a client, my first job is align myself with my own inner knowledge of this wholeness. From that personal place, I am in touch with the template of wholeness that underlies all of life. My intention to work for the best possible outcome for this client seems to open a door that give me entre` to a dialogue with the inner wisdom of the client. This rapport between my own inner wholeness and the client’s innate wholeness begins to direct the choices that I make in assisting this person back to a place of wellness.

The process I have just described is not one used only by natural healers. It is something that each of us can use to direct us in our choices toward balance in our own lives. The body knows! Find your own path to that inner wisdom, and information or understandings will become evident that will guide you. Most people access that path by quieting outer activity. Meditation is an ideal way to find that center. There are many types of meditation including movement meditation. If you aren’t one for quiet, try just 10 minutes at first. Use the breath as a focus and allow each part of the body to relax. Notice where the mind is busy and allow that zinging to slow down to the rhythm of the breath. Release the things that are seducing the mind. (They can always be picked up afterward if you really want them!) You will find yourself in a place that may be new to you. A place of quiet and reflection. This is the place where you can ask questions of yourself:

  • How am I feeling right now?
  • What is causing me to feel this way?
  • What should I do to feel more balanced?
  • What are the underlying issues feeding this imbalance?

When I am doing healing work, I am continually asking questions and I have learned to trust the answers that seem to come even when they are only intimations. I will find my hands or my attention drawn to an area and even become aware of what my approach to the area should be. I ask the questions in dialogue with the client’s inner wise one, and that one replies by guiding me through the session. As you inhabit that quiet place within yourself, answers and impressions will come for you too. The body knows! Find your path to this inner wisdom and begin to ask the questions that you have. The answers are known to you already and will come up from that quiet inner pool so that you can begin to move yourself toward greater balance and harmony with that template of wholeness within yourself.

Healthy Insights

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Curing vs. Healing

People almost always seek care because they have some pain, symptom or difficult condition that lets them know that life isn’t working and they must make a change. Examples are neck pain, back pain, anxiety, fibromyalgia, depression, or a digestive disturbance like irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s Disease. Or they’re too often impatient or angry with… Read More »