Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Heart-Centered Healing


My attention has been drawn lately to those who are living with debilitating chronic health conditions. The pain and immense change to their lives has been nothing short of disturbing, and ailments like auto-immune disorders leave us at a loss for answers. Some symptoms can be controlled, but there seems to be very little healing going on. My heart goes out to those who suffer in this manner, and I'm wondering how we can begin to approach healing in our culture a little differently. I think we're missing something. 

We are complex beings and everything in our lives and bodies is integrated. When we compartmentalize and try to separate out our health from our job, family, friends, environment, etc., we do a disservice to ourselves, and we are incomplete. We are related to everything in our world...our health, our family, our jobs, our planet. All are connected. 

If we are to be well, we need to address all our needs: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. And by spiritual, I don’t necessarily mean religion – I mean our beliefs and how we see ourselves fitting into the whole. Our beliefs give our life structure, governing our perceptions, and it is from this point where we choose our life.

When we are ill, injured, heartbroken, or stressed, we tend to want a magic pill to fix things so we can just keep on doing what we were doing and get back to our lives.  We’ve lost the ability to recognize that our body is telling us we’re out of balance somewhere and that we need to honor the time-out. Sometimes our body forces us to step back and do self-care because we won't stop otherwise. The time-out is for us to retreat, reflect, and recover. An illness is an opportunity, and a lesson I've repeated more than a few times myself.

So thus we turn to “medicine”, which can be very powerful if we connect with the right remedy. Medicine is more than something we take or have done to us - medicine comes to us in many ways. Sometimes it’s the neighbor who takes a few minutes to check in on us when they haven’t seen us lately, sometimes it’s the friend who stands by us when our world is falling apart, and other times it’s the sunny sky and fresh air that provide the needed balm. Medicine comes in many forms, and we all need something different at different times. We are each unique, and therefore, our “medicine” must be unique as well.

Medicine is that which helps us to heal. It may be a person, an herb, a drug, a procedure, a walk outside, a wholesome meal, music, or a host of other things that nourish and rejuvenate us on several levels. What we need to realize is that we are whole beings, and medicine is not just about what we ingest to clear an infection, it is also about the support (or lack of it) we receive during illness and how we care for ourselves. Sometimes part of the medicine is realizing that we don’t have a good support structure in our lives or we’re in a job or activities that don't provide balance for our family and we need to make some changes. Other times, we get to see the gifts of wonderful family, friends, and colleagues who help us recover. Our time-out is an opportunity to reflect...what have we not been paying attention to and what do we need to change?

The right medicine is transformational. It helps us transform that which was out of balance physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. There are gifts within the retreat of illness, whether the symptoms lie in our body, mind, or heart.  Reflection gives us the chance to check in with our spirit – our belief system – and see if we need to make any updates. Sometimes we structure our beliefs in such a way that we’ve placed ourselves right into a corner. That doesn’t give us very much room to grow, and stagnation leads to sickness.

The journey to wellness can be a long and arduous one at times. Healing requires us to change in some way. And far too often, we view the change that we need to make as more painful than the symptoms we're experiencing. That kind of thinking keeps us trapped and we'll find ourselves right back where we started. We keep ourselves in the corner.

The people who I’ve seen recover over the years are the ones who recognize that they are their own healer. They seek out those who can help them recover physically and mentally with western medicine, alternative medicine, or a combination. But they also re-evaluate their beliefs and learn who the people are in their lives that they can count on. They release relationships, jobs, activities, homes, or habits that no longer serve them or have been harmful. They have discovered that they are multi-faceted beings, and becoming well and balanced requires adjustments on many levels, not just one. They change their perceptions and they change their lives, letting their hearts lead. That is powerful medicine. I've watched people move from a very structured, inflexible and painful life to one of complete freedom and joy, even with physical disabilities. They might have been at the bottom of the pit before they realized what needed to change, but when they made that discovery, they lit up with a flame of passion and moved forward towards a better life.

We are each our own healer and have the power within us to be well and whole. When we choose our thoughts, words, and actions from our very center - our heart - we find the healer inside. When we choose healing practices and practitioners who feel right to us and listen to our concerns (whether they be from a medical or alternative model), we can truly begin the healing process. There are some of us who may never be "cured" on recover completely from disease, but we can come to a place where we accept ourselves as we are and recognize that we are more than a physical body. Our worth as humans is not in just our physical form.

Medicine is all around us...it’s the people who love us without any conditions. Nature, laughter, and gratitude are all healing partners. When we need outside support, we should seek someone who will help us, not a set of symptoms. We are sooo much more than that. The right medicine is integrated...it helps us heal our bodies, minds, hearts, and spirits. There are many phenomenal practitioners out there who can help us. Doctors, chiropractors, dentists, counselors, herbalists, Reiki practitioners, massage therapists, and so many others are serving their communities from their hearts. 

If we take time to reflect on our lives and be truly honest with ourselves about what is out of balance, we can begin our healing journey. Being honest with ourselves is the hardest part. Making changes has it's challenges, but by following our hearts - what we feel and know to be right for us - is how we regain our health and wholeness. And that process will be different for each one of us, in a series of steps and often missteps along the way.

If we allow our hearts to lead and let our minds serve our hearts, we would find the healing we need, not only for us, but for our whole world. If something in our life doesn't feel right, it isn't. I've been fooled many times by my own logic, but I've yet to be failed by my heart and intuition.

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