What is Healing?

Trip Start Nov 12, 2005
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Trip End May 18, 2006


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Monday, February 13, 2006

I have come to trust that when a word persistently emerges from deep inside me that I must take heed. Of late, my world has been permeated by the word healing. And thus began the mental meandering of this word's meaning which was deeply informed by many recently coalescing experiences. The most obvious, of course, is the cleansing process that Alex and I have just completed with the support of Dr. Subhash and his wife Jancy. In the course of this cleanse, I think that we were exposed to the power of some of the most profound tools for bringing about true healing (more on what I mean by this later). As well, over the past year as Alex and I have asked ourselves what comes next for work, the word that keeps surfacing is "healer." I believe it is this calling that is fueling my current drive for self health, as I cannot guide a journey that I myself am not willing to expose and commit myself to. Thus, the cleanse, as well as the travel and the single minded dedication to spiritual practice and teaching. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is the relationship that Alex and I have committed ourselves to. Here I am discovering the most profound healing and thus where my exploration of this word begins...

What is healing? I began the delving process by asking myself what words remind me of the word healing or heal. The first that came into my thoughts was the word "whole." Ah, this felt like the right track, so I went on. What does whole mean? Completely integrated, completely seen, and then, most deeply felt: completely accepted. And then I knew: I have always been on the path of growth. I am relentless in that way. But like all humans, I had grown in the ways that were most comfortable, and hidden the darkest and ugliest parts, stuffing them as deep as I could into one very small part of myself and then turned the light off so no one could see. Poof! Its gone, right? There really wouldn't be any great epics or even fairy tales for that matter if it worked that way. We all know, that to truly transform we have to go to the places that scare us most. And in that moment of realization I saw clearly what was happening for both Alex and I through our relationship. We were experiencing true healing.

So, first a definition of terms is perhaps required. What is true healing? I believe that true healing is the experience of coming to fully accept yourself exactly as you are in any moment: physically, emotionally and spiritually. Small, petty, sick, scared, hurtful. All of this is okay. But not just saying that to yourself, but knowing it deeply in your core, existing from this knowing. Knowing that each of Us is greater than any single action or thought, any sickness or deep fear that we may harbor. I have come to believe that this is the core of every single human being's journey on this Earth: coming to love ourselves exactly as we are, even if we are showing up late, flustered, confused, or a beat too slow. Everything we are is beautiful. Suffering comes from the places that we cut off, hide and despise. And I believe that the place where the deepest healing begins is in our most intimate relationships, whatever form that may take.

Loveologists around the world agree on one thing: true love at its core is full acceptance: fully accepting of exactly where the person who is the object of that love is at in that very moment. But they also add something else: simultaneous to the present moment full acceptance we also hold another vision that allows us to see that person in their pinnacle of Selfhood: fully healed, fully functioning highest self. And by being both fully accepted AND seen in our brightest and best form, we slowly begin to merge the two: who we are now and who we have the potential to become. As we experience the feeling of being fully accepted, we come to accept ourselves more. As we experience the feeling of being seen in our highest form, we slowly evolve in that direction.

For some people, true love happens with their life partners, for others through a parent, a sibling or a dear friend. And others still experience true, unconditioned love through their spiritual teachers, religious guides or other dealers in the highest self. It can happen across a lifetime, or can happen in a moment. In Tibetan Buddhism, there is a belief that if a person is lucky (this isn't the random type Lotto luck, but more the culmination of a life's hard work pursuing and recognizing the path of luck toward our destiny) enough to find their true guru (spiritual teacher) and that teacher has attained some form of enlightenment, then they will be able to transmit that experience to the student in an instant. Enlightenment in a flash. As I suspect future travelblogs might focus on what the word enlightenment really means, I won't diverge here despite the temptation...

But for most of us ordinary people, healing will be a daily grind toward ultimately finding true love of ourselves inspired by the people in our lives who love us that way. Alex and I have had many of these people permeate our lives: Our parents, siblings, closest friends, and of course, most importantly, each other. These people have fueled the fires that have taken us far on our journeys to highest healing. Beyond that, we are experiencing what I consider to be a rare blessing, in that this journey in India and Nepal is landing us on the doorstep of one person after another who is loving us in this way. In Boudha, it was our friends Shashi and Prerna, Shari, Sarah, Bill, Noah, Daniela and a host of others.

Here in Kerala, it was Dr. Subhash and his wife Jancy. From the start, Dr. Subhash and Jancy emphasized that they would not heal us. We would heal ourselves by receiving what they had to offer (medicines, treatments, guidance) and then actively using it to heal ourselves. We would not just be massaged and then have permanently looser muscles. We needed to receive the massage, work with it, talk to the muscles, ask them to relax and even ask them what was keeping them from relaxing. Maybe we had stored a dark thought or experience in an area of our body, or maybe there were some toxins that had set up camp. Either can be released once we are aware of the source and then treat it appropriately. The healing work that Dr. Subhash did was twofold: 1) he had medical expertise that he drew on to guide and treat us, but 2) more importantly, he offered his guidance and treatment with ultimate love, complete acceptance and lack of judgement with the complete faith that we could heal ourselves into a state of thriving.

Alex and I both knew that this form of healing was the truest for us and that it aligned with what each of us believed. Thus, we both had phenomenal results through only several weeks of treatment. For both of us, medical issues that we had been working on for years were cracked open and began to heal. In this case, the source of healing came from the guidance and love of Dr. Subhash, coupled with our hard work and belief in ourselves to heal.

Recently, I had a powerful encounter with a book, Grace and Grit. It is a beautifully raw and personal story told by spiritual dedicant and philosopher, Ken Wilber. Through it he courageously shares the finding and losing of the great love of his life, Treya Wilber. Ten days after they marry, she is diagnosed with breast cancer. And through a five year process of dying with great grace and strength, she reaches what Ken believes to be enlightenment. The book is a powerful reflection on healing, which some of you might find ironic because it is a book ultimately about death. Through it I have come to believe that dying is a separate experience from being unhealthy. Treya's body was ravaged by cancer, but through the disease process Treya ultimately came to fully accept herself, to love herself, and to live from her highest self. Treya experienced true healing. And while she left this Earth, to Ken's great grief, she has left behind a powerful legacy that to this day continues to relieve the suffering of people living with cancer all over the world. In this way, she is immortal. Perhaps the highest form of immortality any of us can seek to achieve: not a self-oriented, live forever, fountain of youth sort of experience, but more of a timeless existence perpetuated through her own selfless acts. Her healing was far more important then her dying, and thus she lives on.

Here are a few of Treya's words that I think will add a lot to each of our lives to read...

"My personal theory about this [expending great effort to change a part of ourselves] is that you don't have to make an effort to change or stop a certain behavior or thought you don't like. In fact, the effort gets in the way. The important thing is to see it clearly, to observe all its aspects, to just witness it, to accept it, and every time it arises you see it, it doesn't catch you by surprise. Then I think that there is some kind of mysterious something, you could call it our evolutionary impulse to grow toward our fullest potential, toward God, or whatever, but once you've cultivated awareness of the problem or defect or hangup, this mysterious something then seems to be able to keep us on course, to correct the defect. The change is not a question of will. Will is necessary to cultivate awareness, but it often gets in the way of that kind of subtle, profound inner change. That kind of change moves us in a direction of a way that's beyond our understanding and certainly beyond our capacity to consciously will. It's more of an allowing, an opening. A little like Grace."

Ah. What a relief this is, you see. Forget what I said earlier about daily grind and hard work. The key I think is not in the effort toward something, it is more in cultivating the habit of daily awareness every moment of the day. The daily challenge to ourselves to not just act, think, eat, do, talk, live but to do so with full mindfulness. To say to ourselves, that's interesting, I just cursed out that other driver. I always do that on Wednesday afternoon's after running that group with abusers. Hmmm that's interesting. And then once we have this awareness, the effortless effort happens: the evolutionary impulse occurs and we shift ever so slightly. So slightly that only time elapsed photography could pick it up. Deftly arrange all the photos from a life time and speedily flip through them to make a film and snap: Enlightenment in a flash. No guru required, or should I say many gurus. Any moment can be a teacher. Not in a new age, sort of everything happens for a reason, so why did I choose on some subconscious level to make this happen to myself, but more in a don't let a chance go by, not a moment, where you don't seek awareness and understanding. Let everything be a teacher, lend an impulse toward evolution. Its the highest tribute we can pay for this precious opportunity to be alive. So gloriously and painfully and absolutely alive.

And this I have come to believe is how true healing happens. Through the inspiration of friends and family and lovers. Through the guidance of healers who come from a place of great love. Through the effortless effort of choosing awareness in every moment. From the grace within us, the love around us. And ultimately, by boldly and relentlessly accepting every morsel of ourselves and each other until everything and everyone is wrapped into the fold. A pathway for certain immortality for us all. The alchemists recipe. But that's another story told so well by Paulo Cohelo and I'll save exploring that for a future entry. with great love for each of you just as you are, Sheryl and Alex.
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