Publications ~ Energetic Medicine

for Perspective
the Publication of The Association of Humanistic Psychology

The Energetic Medicine of Healing Intent
by Fred Mitouer, PhD

I have used all kinds of healing modalities to effect the positive transformation of a wounded state of affairs, either in myself or others. Ultimately I have found, regardless of the approach, successful healing has depended more upon sincere and focused intent than on any technique, modality or approach. Healing intent is the pro-active will to thrive that is directed, like a laser beam, upon a field of experience that is distorted, broken or incoherent--whether it be physical, mental or spiritual.

At the heart of the human condition--in spite of how trite this sounds--all of us share the common ground of how we come to terms with the central issue of life and death. Shakespeare's words "To be or not to be" are often answered today with a resounding "maybe" for a great many souls. And this existential ambivalence is at the heart of most healing contexts.

Healing is not about choosing life over death all the time; rather it is about understanding that some things must die within us for other parts of us to thrive. Common to everyone, at some point in their life, and usually revolving around their existential themes is the feeling of being stuck, of feeling like an impostor, of feeling overwhelmed, or of just not being at home with themselves. Some people, because of these feelings, are driven to suicide while the majority of others content themselves, amidst their dissatisfaction, by surviving in this world with style. This dissatisfaction is actually a stimulus for transformation and need not always be viewed pessimistically.

The Rolling Stone hit song, " I can't get no--sat-is-faction..." captures, in modern cliché, our basic human dilemma. As stated by Gautama, The Buddha, about 2500 years earlier---life is unsatisfying. Buddha also said that the way out of suffering lies in accepting it; and that through this acceptance, a transformation is possible. If the transformational journey of healing revolves around this acceptance, then discovering "the curriculum of acceptance" becomes a reasonable starting point for any exploration of healing. Our first lesson in acceptance, if we are ever to relax about our existence in this universe, must be then to accept the inevitability of our death, and of all the little deaths that healing crisis are.

The second lesson lies in the realization that we will experience our death in a singular way. Although much public attention has been directed toward conscious dying and healing lately, the process of healing and dying remains a private one. Intentional healing teaches us to become our own best friend and create a safe place within us for all our parts, especially the ones that need to die.

The healing process can be seen as the death of a real part of us that we have outgrown or need to outgrow but are still carrying around. In this light, depth healing work revolves around opening to the graceful death of outgrown identities. Seen in this way, the gift of the healing crisis is that we must wake-up as this Zen classic illustrates:

"To die, but not to perish, is to be eternally present".

If any kind of "medicine" keeps alive "dead" parts of a person, the process should be viewed as curative rather than healing because real healing arises naturally out of our realignment with what is vital and alive, or the Tao . A cure manages or eliminates the painful symptoms of an imbalanced body or life. It does not, in contrast to healing, break through symptomology to the core of a person's imbalanced energy. Healing, and language that describes true healing is inherently of a spiritual nature.

The intention to heal takes a person, who is singularly alone at his or her edge, to a compassionate and spiritual meeting with the mystery. Though it is possible for almost any human being to journey into this "meeting place," only ten percent of the population ever take this journey. Lao Tsu, in referring to the inseparable nature of life and death, pointed out that "thirty percent of the people" love life and fear death; another "thirty percent of the people" prefer death and avoid life. Another "thirty percent of the people" fear both life and death. "Only ten percent have the wisdom to accept both life and death as facts and simply enjoy the dance of existence".

Stepping out onto the dance floor of existence is a continuous exercise in humility, in that every time we do, the possibility of tripping up and falling down meets us. But like the baby steps that lead a toddler to walk, we-who choose to dance-evolve, in trial and error learning into more gracious creatures. If healing work can be seen as the remedy for getting up after we trip and fall, then one of the main features of any kind of healing is the motivation to arise. Energetically, healing must always revolve around the mobilization of this will to arise from the ashes of our descent. And, living in a body involves some relationship to the pleasure principle. In bodywork, there are many pleasurable interventions that can powerfully energize movement toward joy, humor, inspiration and communion.

The intent to explore what truly needs healing requires an openness to the mystery of our lives and, at the same time, a courage to confront and accept the learning that lies within the conflict of our healing crisis, whether it be a nagging death wish, stomach cancer or a broken heart. Healing challenges arise as opportunities to change. If we could only flow all the time with the "changing nature of things," our lives would be without friction, resistance and attachment. But, for the most part, that is not our nature. Au contraire. We experience the conflicting tensions of holding onto some things while pushing other things away--what Buddha called craving and aversion. Healing work becomes necessary when the tensions of our holding and pushing have caused some breakdown within us.

As a bodyworker, I keep seeing these breakdowns as potential breakthroughs into a new way of being. Healing crisis are, from the breakthrough perspective, opportunities to realign our lives with natural law. They involve the transformation of our synthetic notions about who we really are. It takes courage to take oneself on, to confront and transform the conditioned self that we have created. One cannot change oneself by merely wishing for change or by grasping for it. The way out of conflict is to explore what is beneath it. In almost all cases there is this realm of woundedness that challenges us to learn how to stop reacting and begin to just gracefully be with our woundedness and explore its nature for the insight that rests at its core. This means that, for a time, we live within the wound, accept our experience there and just feel our feelings. In a phrase, let it be.

Something amazing happens when we make this shift. A healing energy surfaces from deep within our being to meet our wounded place, as if all along it had only been waiting for us to just accept what is and learn the lessons inherent within this mystery that is our life. The analogy that comes to mind here is of the Chinese finger catchment; it's a colorful straw woven cylinder that will not allow your fingers, once inside, to withdraw because it contracts with your pulling. The only way out is in. You have to relax, move inside, and slowly relate to the situation in order to free yourself. Analogously, we learn from our wounds how to accept life on its own terms and, thus, through acceptance find our freedom. The intent to do this means everything.

Zen mind has been popuularized in the inner games of tennis and golf. The basic premise is: consciousness precedes form. Visualization for healing utilizes this concept when we imagine a healthy spleen or shoulder where there has been a rupture or dislocation. This is a very straight forward use of intent as medicine. A more subtle usage of intent is when we envision our lives more whole and complete by opening ourselves to a transformation wherein parts of our conditioned "self" actually fall away to reveal a more essential "self" that is at our core.

Healing intent, in this regard is like sculpting. We have a vision of possibility and then we chisel away everything that is unnecessary. Healing work becomes our art project. Consider Michelangelo's response when asked why he chose a particular piece of marble for the pieta : "There is an angel in it and I want to free it."

The person committed to healing his or her life must become the sculptor of his or her own stone. The artistry of healing, the ability to "sculpt away excess, to reveal essence," requires some sculpting tools. These tools are:

• Compassionate detachment for grief based healing.

• Forgiveness for anger based healing.

• Faith and courage for transforming our fears.

• Awareness and trust for wounds of betrayal.

When these tools are brought to the stone of our unhealed wound, a revelation occurs. We find, that as we break down our stony identification with struggle and pain, we break through to our light hearted and deeper breathing self. I call this healing process the art of personal disarmament. It teaches us a simple lesson: We are spiritual beings having a human experience on Earth.



Post Script 1 -- The Healing Path

508 words

The healing person knows that healing is an intentional journey. Within the journey are phases. They can be described as follows:

• Cultivating a trustful and accepting relationship with oneself and any other "support people."

• Unveiling the wound or issue.

• Making the conscious commitment to heal.

• Relinquishing the wound or creative block and its inter-related identifications.

• Integrating oneself into a life of deepening flow and self-peace.

These five divisions of the "healing journey" do not occur linearly but co-exist simultaneously. Nevertheless, if we want to learn how to heal , we must cultivate our understanding of what is involved. So the first how is about self-trust and acceptance. We must first make it safe to be imperfect and with shadow. The second how is about learning to let the wound arise and speak to us unafraid of judgment, blame, shame or punishment. Sometimes words do not arise because a wound may have its origins in preverbal experience or in dimensions beyond concept. We can explore this mystery by becoming mindful of the body's multi-sensory language. How to read the story of our wound is a skill we discover through all the various modalities we avail ourselves to. The third how lies in our ability to make a commitment, to not lie to ourselves and to sustain awareness of our reactive self that still wants what it wants,(our wounded self's survival with all its juicy secondary gratifications). The fourth how is simple but the most difficult and it involves a death. It is the ability to say "good-bye", it is the willingness to grow beyond our wounded "survival self" and move forward into the "real life" we came here to enjoy. The ability to truly grieve and honor the dead in ourselves and begin anew remains the cornerstone of transformational work.

The last how revolves around the new and real. It involves us in the on-going process of "feeling grateful" for the opportunities in our life which include the serving of others naturally from where we are. This how is about integrating our knowledge with our behavior. Knowledge alone does not heal. It is only in the owning of what we know--by acting in alignment with that knowing-- that true healing can happen. How to integrate is the most subtle of hows because it involves a global awareness of our many parts and a mental discipline that is flexible. Where morality revolves around the duality of good and bad--and often sets up an underground, or unconscious life, of disowned energies for a person--integration is about integrity and ownership of all our parts, including our shadow sides. In a unified field of self, no underground has to be created for our unacceptable parts; we can be free because we can contain our whole life. The intentional healing journey is a noble one; it is organic and pragmatic yet has, as its "goalless goal," the highest of human aspirations: a whole life imbued with freedom, loving kindness and a sense of humor.

Post Script 2 The Body In You

(727 words)

Because the body inherently lives within the domain of natural law, our bodies become the stage upon which the conflict between nature and society is acted out. Natural bodily expansion meets the contractions of social conditioning. In this crucible of "dynamic tension," a threshold is too often reached wherein duality and fragmentation result birthing both a wound and the need for its healing. This primal splitting of consciousness into dualistic perception is the core of our existential wound--the felt separation from oneness . Healing work, of all kinds, must address this fragmentation, and the "dynamic tension" that exists, between our natural knowing and our socially conditioned consciousness. Healing is simply the return journey back, from duality, to the re-membered state of unity.

There is an ancient healing story told of a time before history when the wise elders of the original human race gathered together to discuss the fate of the human race.

All of the wise ones knew of the human capacities for mischief and were all wary of offering them easy access to the keys of knowledge, for fear that they would exploit this knowledge and use it for ends that would be against the divine natural order of things. All but one of the wise elders argued against giving human beings another chance to have divine knowledge again. He passionately told the assembled elders that he understood their concerns given the racial history of human beings but that it was in the interest of the divine order that each human being be given a chance to return home, to the world of oneness, by virtue of their own sincere effort.

All of the elders then remembered that this was one of the divine rules governing the world of duality. So one of the elders spoke for all of their disappointment and said: "All right, we'll offer divine knowledge to humanity but we shall hide the wisdom where the mean and greedy humans will not find it...let's put it at the bottom of the ocean. Another elder, remembering the clever excesses of Atlantis, said "these human will surely find a way to get at it there, let's project it out to space, beyond the gravity field of Earth". After this was also dismissed for the same reason as before, namely that humans would create the means to travel anywhere to aggrandize their dominion over the natural world, the lone wise elder stood up to speak for the gentler side of humanity and said:

"We should place divine wisdom where no human being, with less than divine intent will look, we will hide divine wisdom in the last place any exploitive human being will look. Because the exploitive humans are always looking outward for more to conquer, they will never look within. We shall hide the keys to spirit within the inner spaces of their own human bodies. In that way they will be brought to their wisdom through their simple investigations of the mystery that they are."

All the elders agreed that this was the most practical solution to their dilemma.

And so, the body became the vehicle for our journey home.

Unfortunately, religion socially co-opted spirit and split our consciousness between mind and body rather than united them into a seamless experience we could call bodymind. Our history is the play out of the body's desire for expansion meeting the systematically entrenched manipulations of a fearful patriarchy that uses shame, sin and guilt to manipulate our lives into predictable patterns of obedience and consumption. On one hand, the trance of religious tyranny has suppressed the body's emotions and natural sensitivity; and on the other hand, it has revered a flight into light, a kind of transcendental spiritual materialism that has only encouraged us to run away from the material world, as if existence here on earth is some kind of punishment.

Andrew Harvey, in Dialogues with a Modern Mystic , describes Taoist thought as the only philosophy that whole heartedly weds spiritual life to the natural world. He quotes Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching : "If the energy of heaven does not descend and the energy of earth does not ascend, then yin and yang do not commune, and myriad beings do not flourish." In hands on intentional healing work, we have the opportunity to minister at, and be the bride and groom at this wedding.



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