Healing is one of the most used words in the world of health. We often use the word generally often broken legs and other fractures and without looking at exactly what is going on when we heal.
Healing means mending; we can use the word to describe the apparently automatic process we expect to occur when we cut ourselves in the kitchen or get a Bee sting in the garden or even when we break a limb in an accident.
But we also talk about Spiritual Healing and healing herbs which shows different aspects of the rich complexity of meanings in this word.
Healing is a Process
That much is obvious. It means a process of becoming whole and becoming aware of the subtle meanings of that wholeness can shine a powerful light on who we really are.
As an example, think of a "Holistic therapist" telling you that she works with and "heals the whole person".
And then consider a surgeon describing how in his hospital they heal the whole person with a dept. for general surgery and other depts. for surgery on other parts of "the body"
When the therapist says that she heals the person is this what the surgeon does?
Clearly not, when these 2 people use the word "person" they are not talking about the same thing!
So is the person the same as "the body"? Or is there something more?
I think that when we discuss healing the whole person we mean something more and special than the whole body.
That leads us to an obvious question…
What is The Whole Person?
Since we want to treat the whole person we must have at least the beginnings of an understanding of what we mean by that.
We don't just mean the whole body; the surgeon we mentioned has seen plenty of bodies in his dissection and anatomy training but there is a difference between the living and dead and even between the conscious patient of the surgeon before and after anaesthesia.
What is it or should we say who is it that is conscious?
Consciousness implies a mind and from there I am going to use the word Spirit as well. You need not follow me in that but hold on for a while!
Healing means addressing the whole person and helping them come to wholeness and part of that involves consciousness.
So far we've discussed the body, consciousness and spirit or body, mind and spirit so in our endeavour to heal holistically we find that we need to be able to deal with or treat each of these components of the whole.
Now if we look at the parts we have diagrammatically
We can begin to pull this together…
To heal the whole person, to do Holistic Therapy, we have to be able to contact and effect the whole person and communicate with all the levels or parts they have.
So What Does Holistic Treatment Mean?
Let's start with the body. We feel more comfortable with physical healing, nobody feels like they are being too philosophical when speaking of a wound healing.
Suppose we use Arthritis as an example. To heal such an inflammatory disease of the joints we will need to use nutritional anti-inflammatory vitamins and minerals and perhaps to do some gentle mobilisation of the joints affected by Osteopathy or Physiotherapy.
So to treat a joint disease we may need Nutritional therapy and a Physical treatment such as Osteopathy which address 2 different aspects of the physical body – the metabolic and the structural.
But suppose we go a little further with our arthritis example…
Sometimes we describe a wound as looking "angry". In Psychotherapy we learn of feelings being suppressed and just suppose we take expressed anger as being unacceptable in the family of our patient then perhaps we may find that anger will be suppressed and we find that the family members instead expressing sweetness and light openly with the anger suppressed and arthritis focussed on their joints.
Healing the arthritis for that person may need an awareness and ability to deal with the suppressed anger as well as the physical aspects of the inflammation in the joints.
When a medicine or treatment "does not work" it may be that we need to look up one level and see if there is an issue or logjam there. Is there a hidden gain?
And next let's turn to Depression
How do we treat this? Is it a brain disease? A mere imbalance of hormones and neurotransmitters? Or something deeper?
Well we have similar chemicals in our joint disease too but we had to "step back" to solve the problem – we had to solve it from a higher perspective.
What higher perspective can we adopt in the case of Depression?
What might a spiritual perspective look like? What would be the long view? Just take the situation of someone who thinks that they have no future, no friends and no reason to live.
I think I would be depressed too if I believed that my life had no meaning!
And then they make a friend. It may even be a pet but they find a "Someone" who is happy to see them and makes few to no demands. And gradually they find enough reason to live and the depression symptoms lesson and vanish. They may then even get involved in supporting others with those symptoms.
They found a reason to live, a purpose in their lives and the "Disease" or disorder goes as they become more whole.
The healing occurred on the mental and spiritual level because that is where the problem was.
That is healing and a good example of holistic healing too.
To be a holistic healer you have to able to deal with issues of meaning and purpose and questions on the meaning of life are in there. Not that we have to provide an answer but we need to have gone through some of that journey ourselves and to be able to conduct someone else for a short distance on their way.
Healing means more than bones and skin getting better, more than doling out a remedy; it means that our mental and spiritual issues "get better" too. It means going beyond the old paradigm of regarding human beings as an assembly of organs and recognising our emotions and our spiritual nature as being equally real and important.
"We are not human beings looking for spiritual experience but spiritual beings going through a human experience."
And with that saying attributed to the French writer Camus we get a powerful insight into our real nature.
If you want to explore these issues more deeply you may appreciate "Why People Don't Heal and How They Can" by Caroline Myss or "Mind Over Medicine" by Lissa Rankin M.D available at Amazon and other stores and do please feel free to comment below.