The healing process: a primer

People ask me about this because I’ve worked on it and continue to work it, in my personal life and as a professional in healing arts. I’ve documented bits of my own healing processes in this blog: from a severe childhood trauma, 20-year-old injury to my sacroiliac joint, a hiatal hernia, leaky gut, and more. I guess I have a little bit of street cred.

P.S. I’m still learning.

We live in a world with broken people and broken behaviors in it, including us and the things we ourselves do. Sometimes you know you’ve healed. You’re done. Sometimes it’s more like a spiral that you revisit as you get on with your life, mature, and find the resources to heal even more deeply.

You need breaks — because healing can be intense and you need to rebalance and integrate, which happens mostly in the non-conscious and is part of the process.

Even on your deathbed, the possibility for healing exists. We are all works in progress. It is a hero’s/heroine’s journey complete with allies, mentors, obstacles, blind alleys, discoveries, expansion, adversaries, stages/gates, divine aid, a transformative learning experience every step of the way.

Healing is multifaceted. It can be physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual, seemingly by itself or in any combination, or all of the above, as well as outside of these realms beyond our capacity to understand. Everything is hitched to everything else, and we don’t know what “everything” is. Two-thirds of the universe is dark energy and no one knows what it is. We live inside a huge mystery.

It’s not necessarily linear. We can use linear strategies — I want to get from Point A to Point B — and it’s always a good idea to leave room for quantum changes, because they happen. People get visited by angels, get messages in dreams, recognize signs that provide direction in mundane life, health issues spontaneously disappear. And more. Always, and more.

Healing takes skill, and you can learn to do it, from your own experiences, from experts in it (healers, therapists), from non-professional others who’ve healed themselves, from getting informed about it (please be discerning, don’t believe everything you read, and maximize what’s helpful to you — if it’s hurtful, minimize it, but denial is generally not a good strategy).

Sometimes healing doesn’t work, or it is partial. It’s not exactly something we control. We are all mortal. The body wears out eventually, no matter how well you take care of it. Accidents, epidemics, natural disasters, unhealthy people with agendas or weapons or leadership roles exist. Accepting that anything can happen, that everything living has a lifespan, gives us a deadline, so to speak, and can prompt us to do some of our finest healing work. Who do you want to be next year?

There are issues that we simply don’t yet have the knowledge to heal. We are creatures of habit, conditioned by the past, and often those habits detract from healing. Examining and releasing your dysfunctional conditioning — beliefs, habits, patterns that don’t serve — is important.

Waking up is a synonym for healing. What is your place in the universe? Who are you? Why are you here? What’s your purpose? What do you bring to the table? What do you want to bring to the table? How can you make the world a better place, one day at a time, one conversation at a time? What is real? What is delusion? How do you know?

Life and death are of supreme importance. Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost. Each of us should strive to awaken. Awaken. Take heed, do not squander your life.

~ Dogen Zenji

You may think you’re alone with your suffering, but you’re actually not alone. Someone, somewhere, has gone through something very similar and come through to the other side. Seek them out, learn from them, learn from each other, share resources. Shame keeps you separate. I like Brene Brown’s work on shame.

Everyone gets wounded. Everyone is vulnerable — although, word to the wise, find people to share with who are compassionate, who can empathize. Not everyone is. Develop your compassion, including self-compassion.

There are some prerequisites: first, you need to believe that healing is possible. Beliefs are powerful. They run deep. They often run the show without your conscious awareness until you make it your business to become aware of them and question them. Is it true? Check out Byron Katie’s The Work to dive in.

Next, in order to heal, you have to allow yourself to heal. This is important, even when you are going to a healer. Yes, healers can “do stuff” to you, but you are the one who lets it work. This is a skill. Surrendering is a skill, and it has to do with allowing yourself to be open to change that’s beyond your control. , and it

This can be quite scary for some. Please recognize that needing to be in control may be exactly the thing that keeps you from healing. Healing is bigger than the you that you know, and it’s mysterious. Healing means taking risks to allow the unknown to happen, and it also means expanding into a bigger version of you that you’re not familiar with yet.

If you could heal using only what you can control, how’s that working for you? Wouldn’t you already be healed?

Finally, you already are a healer. When you get a scratch, it bleeds, scabs over, the scab falls off, and the skin has knit itself back together. Hurts and disappointments diminish over time and possibly, with perspective, may even come to be seen as blessings in disguise that called on you to grow and heal.

As long as you are alive, life wants you to heal and provides some resources. You can get familiar with and cultivate those resources.

A tale of recovery: my path from traumatized to healer

I had lunch a few weeks ago with John, someone I’ve known for about 12 years but haven’t seen much in recent years. He commented that I am a very different person now from when he met me, and that would not be apparent to people who hadn’t known me that long.

When we met in 2004 (I think), I seemed troubled to him, and I was. John said that now, I appear to be happy and “like a fountain” (which I love), and he was curious about that.

Other people have said I’ve changed more than anyone they know. Well, that’s probably because I was starting from a more troubled place than most.

So I’m reviewing my path in search of insights to share. This is for you, John, and I know that some of you are interested in recovery from trauma, and some of you are interested in personal growth, so this is for you too.

Continue reading

Happy New Year! Gratitude for 2013! Have a delightful 2014!

May 2014 bring you an abundance of blessings.

Some people and events in 2013 that I’m grateful for:

  • meeting David Harel and then training in craniosacral therapy (classical and biodynamic) with Ryan Hallford — this new work direction is juicy and compelling
  • all of the people who have allowed me to practice on them — I appreciate your willingness to let a student learn on you Continue reading

Gratitude for my daughter, women friends, and skilled intuitive healers

About gratitude journals

From googling “gratitude journal,” the practice apparently began in 1996 when Sarah Ban Breathnach created The Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude as a companion to her popular book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy.

Here’s a blurb about the book:

“Gratitude is the most passionate transformative force in the cosmos,” promises author Sarah Ban Breathnach (Simple Abundance) in her introduction.

I believe it, Sister Sarah!

Sarah asked journalers (journalists?) to write five things every day that they felt grateful for and said they would feel their lives shift within a couple of months.

In 1998, Oprah Winfrey had Sarah as a guest on her show, and as we all know, Oprah just knows goodness. The gratitude journal took off.

I missed out on this back then. It was in the early days of the world wide web (remember that?). I was working at a computer all day, and in my free time, the last thing I wanted to do was be on a computer. (My, how Facebook and blogging have changed that!)

I was raising an adolescent girl going through her most difficult period, in an often-strained relationship.

Actually, looking back, keeping gratitude journals would probably have been a fantastically wonderful practice for us to share back then, if she had deigned to share anything with me.

Hmmm. She’s changed, and so have I.

What I feel grateful for today

Today I feel grateful for my whole experience of motherhood. From pregnancy (easy), through childbirth (difficult), to the moment I held my new baby in my arms for the first time and she wrapped her tiny fingers around my little finger (instant love), I have been blessed to have had a child, a daughter, and specifically my daughter, Lela Rose, who is 29 years old now.

Lela at her Dec 2010 graduation from nursing school, with her women friends.

I watched and helped her grow up, even as I grew up more myself, and she has turned out to be a mensch, a true human being. I see her in her young adult years now, a mother herself, starting her nursing career just this week, moving through struggle to accomplishment. I see her self-esteem, her worthiness, her competency, her intelligence, her endearing goofiness, her wisdom, her discipline, her caring, her limits too.

What I am most grateful for about being a mother is the personal growth that raising her brought to my life — the growing up that I had to do, the inner work of exploring my values, learning when to be flexible and when to stand firm, the changes that being her mother brought to my life.

Today I feel grateful for my women friends, in particular Clarita and Linaka, whom I spent time with last night. We go way back to 1995 when we began ecstatically dancing together. That is 16 years of knowing each other, talking, coming together and moving away, seeing each other through difficulties and joys and sharing them, traveling together, cooking and eating together, always laughing together, and lately doing NLP with each other.

I feel blessed to have so many women friends, new and old, near and far. There is something about the friendship of women that is so nurturing. I think we let our hair down when it’s just us, in a way that we don’t or can’t with men, because we share the lifelong experience of being women in this culture. And when we have common interests and affection for each other, the connecting is abundant.

Today I feel grateful for those people I’ve encountered so far in my life who are skilled intuitive healers. I’ve mentioned Patrice, my acupuncturist, and Chandler Collins, my chiropractor, on this blog before.

Yesterday I had a heart-centering bodymind session with Bo Boatwright, who is a chiropractor but who has learned and developed a method that one could do with just a massage license.

Having experienced one session with Bo, I’d say his work with me on the table was a combination of massage, chiropractic, myofascial release, rebirthing, and visualization. He rolled me and moved me to find the stuck places, and he dug into the stuck places, having me breathe all the while, until my body spontaneously began to release stress/tension/stuckness in the manner of rebirthing and trauma releasing exercises.

After my body quieted down, I felt sadness arise in my heart chakra. I cried, and Bo asked me about my relationship with my parents, who died in 1984 and 1997 (but of course one’s relationship with parents doesn’t end with death). I opened my heart to them, forgave them, embraced them, kissed them…

A couple of hours later, in a moment of quiet stillness, I noticed a new space in my heart center, an openness that wasn’t there before.

Thanks, Bo. I’m grateful for you. And heads up, you are teaching me.