This post is designed to help you understand the healing process. It’s a little difficult to put healing in a box because it’s so wide-ranging. At the same time, it’s worth the effort so that misconceptions can be cleared up and details can be given on the ins and outs of healing. There are also links to a variety of related posts that support the tenets of healing.

There are misconceptions about healing because it isn’t necessarily a known entity in society. Most people conceptualize healing from what they know about modern medicine. This leads to misunderstandings because healing has its own guiding principles, inner workings and special qualities.

Healing is person-centered. Medicine is disease- and treatment-centered. Healing heals the person. Medicine seeks to cure specific symptoms. Healing is about humanity. It brings humanity, life and society into the same sphere, understanding that wholeness is a joint endeavor.

— Pamir Kiciman, from The Truth in Healing

To understand healing from a medical perspective is doomed, because in reality healing has had its own history and tradition since the beginning of recorded history and even much earlier than that. Shamans from various places in the world were some of the earliest healers. (Read: The Healing Way of the Urban Healer.)

To cite one example of how healing wasn’t mainstreamed:

Native American shamans have practiced energy medicine for more than five thousand years. Some medicine people believe their spiritual lineage extends back even further… Even though the Americas’ early inhabitants had a complex astronomical knowledge, advanced mathematics, and sophisticated architecture, writing never developed in the Americas as it did elsewhere. Scholars overlooked the Native American spiritual traditions in favor of Judaism, Christianity, and Buddhism, which left written behind records.

— Alberto Villoldo, PhD

Let me add that the Judeo-Christian and Buddhist traditions also have a healing component. And while healing didn’t necessarily make it into the mainstream, it was continually practiced and developed and this is the case even today.

Far Light by Tessa Houghton

Far Light by Tessa Houghton

So, what differentiates healing?

Healing is a nonmechanical approach to health and wellness, as well as psychological and spiritual wholeness. It considers the parts but extends to the sum and heals at each turn. It’s person-centered instead of being an intervention for disease. Healing understands symptoms as signals and takes into account the information they hold. Healing addresses current needs but it’s also a lifestyle.

Being a lifestyle means healing is ongoing even in periods of good health. Healing is preventive before ill-health and restoring after ill-health. If healing is adopted as part of an individual’s compass, it provides an opportunity for ill-health to be avoided. When health declines, healing is resourceful beyond simply getting the person well.

Emotional, mental and spiritual resources are also unleashed with healing as aids in returning to health. In cases where emotional and mental wellness are the issue, healing has direct access to these layers of being.

It’s important to realize that healing involves the recipient, that it’s participatory and flowers from within. The recipient must be present and engaged for healing to take place.

Healing, as opposed to medicine, is never outside-in. Only the recipient can internalize the insights and shifts that occur and allow transformation to take place.

Change comes from within. It can be facilitated and supported by the healer who is a conduit for healing, empowerment, guidance, strength and encouragement. The healer wears many hats, but change itself is up to the person who is desiring change.

Healing happens when the individual shifts in their understanding.

Healing is noninvasive. It’s not an intervention. It’s co-created with the recipient, therefore the recipient is involved in their own healing.

Healing supports the person and their biology’s inclination towards healthy balance. It strengthens the healing power that’s already within the person and helps it regain its footing, so that it can be a pervasive force throughout their system and their life.

Effective healing depends on self-awareness. It extends beyond the time spent with a healer into the future life of the person, who becomes their own healer through what they learned and assimilated.

There’s very little psychological or spiritual growth involved in being treated by a medical doctor. There’s an external diagnosis, external testing (even though it may test what’s happening inside the body), and external interventions such as medication and/or surgery.

The following isn’t considered:

Many physicians see their job as solely to examine the body. A doctor may say, “Take off your clothes, breathe in, breathe out, open your mouth, stick out your tongue, say ‘Ahhh,’ here is the prescription, go get it filled, and take the medicine regularly.” But, if we are ill, we may also need spiritual healing. We need someone to say, “We are sitting here, let us breathe together. Let us calm our mind so that it can be still.”

— Thich Nhat Hanh

Healing happens together with the recipient. It can’t happen in a vacuum. And for it to be truest healing, it must include everything a human being is, not only the physical body.

Healing is the journey.  The destination is yourself.  The full recognition of all the different aspects of yourself—your joy, your sorrow, your pain, your pleasure—all lead you to the source of who you are.  Only by having intimate contact with this source can you experience the fullness of your life.  Only by fearlessly looking within can you embrace the landscape of your life and open yourself completely to all the love and compassion that lives inside you.

— Philip Berk


The Way of Healing

How Spirituality and Health are Linked

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The Nature of the Healing Process