Over the years I have come to appreciate that healing is not just about becoming pain free. The cardiologist, Dean Ornish, says it well:
“Curing is when the physical disease gets measurably better. Healing is a process of becoming whole. Even the words heal, whole, and holy come from the same root. . . . In the process of healing, you reach a place of wholeness and deep inner peace from which you can deal with illness with much less fear and suffering and much greater clarity and compassion. While curing is wonderful when it occurs, healing is often more meaningful because it takes you to a place of greater freedom from suffering.”
Often when people heal on an emotional and spiritual level, they experience greater physical health, but this is not guaranteed and it isn’t always perfect. For example, when I’m stressed my nervous system still gets ramped up, my pelvic muscles go into a spasm and my bladder hurts. My body has experienced this pattern of pain and dysfunction for almost eight years, and it definitely knows how to get back there. But even though I occasionally feel pain, healing has changed how I experience it. Pain no longer defines me or throws me into despair, and even though I am physically uncomfortable sometimes I suffer so much less.
Healing is even possible when a physical condition gets worse. I watched this happen with my mother as she struggled with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) for seven years. On one of our last visits, I moved her paralyzed and bony frame up in bed and was shocked by frail she was because when you were with her it never seemed that bad. Perhaps this was denial on my part, but when I asked her friends and my family we all had the same experience. As my mother listened intently, savored her food, and watched the birds with delight, she was more alive than most of us with functioning bodies. She was fully present and this light of hers truly blinded one to the state of her body. As my mother was dying, she was healing.
In my second flare up of pain after being pain free for almost a year, I was completely discouraged. I was sitting in church when the speaker said, “You can be beaten down only to get up and be beaten down again. But while you are down there, only you can stop your heart from lifting.” For me this was so true. Healing was an active process of releasing resistance and letting more love and light flow within me. Rest assured that no matter where you are on the continuum of physical health, this type of healing is always an option.
photo by: Adrienne Hayes