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Publications ~ Real Healing

(first published in the Lighthouse Peddler, Dec 2008)

Real Healing
by Fred Mitouer, Ph.D.

These days we hear so much about universal health care and the holistic health life style and the various approaches to wellness. And indeed, there are an impressive array of spiritual practices, physical self-disciplines and eclectic lenses of perception offered everywhere to this end. But too often the experiences and offerings are like beads without a string to hold them.

What do they mean?

Do we know which ones will grow corn, bring us to our knees, make us laugh from our bellies and truly wake up?

Do we know what needs to happen for us humans to understand our selves and work with ourselves so that vitality and joy characterize our daily lives?

For starters let’s appreciate that real health and wellbeing are more than the absence of negative symptoms just as real peace is more than the absence of hostility. Healing is a process toward wholeness; it is also a journey of mending breaks in wholeness, the healing of wounding and separations, in order to re-member and re-experience oneness or unity.

It is important to understand that there is a difference between a healing and a cure. A cure is when a symptom is alleviated such as a chronic sore throat. A cure for this might be simple rest or Vitamin C, or a gargle with salt water or taking an anti-viral homeopathic. A healing begins with the realization about the root cause of the problem such as a compromised immune system that arises from a sense of emotional defeat or perhaps an unexpressed scream that has been sitting in one’s throat for many years.

The healing process is the journey from realization to transformation of the inherent energetics of the presenting situation in its totality. A helpful discernment about the difference between a cure and a healing is the consideration of the difference between surviving and passionate thriving. And it is the psychodynamic of passionate thriving that is the “string” that holds our beads, all our attitudes and activities, together.

In our society, which has become so compartmentalized, we seldom perceive our world in its interwoven strings of dependent co-arising. Hopefully, this is beginning to change. What we have now is the breakdown of the old model.

In spite of all the bells and whistles of our technological society, the need for real healing has never been greater. After all the so-called progress, we have really very little to show as far as advancement in levels of human happiness. Each of us who cares deeply about a more conscious experience for human life in this society, and on this earth, must turn to the subject of healing and ask, “How can I bring about a positive change in my life? How can I find the compassion and courage to confront my personal demons, befriend their energies and re-awaken my aliveness?”

Today, the new field of somatics refers to all the experimental approaches to bodymind healing and personal growth. These new body-based approaches are finding their way into the cultural mainstream alongside more traditional healing arts such as chiropractic, acupuncture, psychotherapy and prayer. It is an exciting time for the healing arts because spirituality, ancient traditions and modern science are all converging into a new paradigm of the human adventure.

As a bodyworker, I often see a healing crisis as an opportunity. An apparent breakdown in our biopsychic experience invites a potential breakthrough in perception that can offer us a real choice. But it takes courage and hard work to achieve this breakthrough perspective. One cannot change oneself by merely wishing for change or by grasping for it. The way out of our suffering involves an exploration of what lies beneath the manifestations of our difficulties. In almost all cases there is the realm of woundedness that causes us to live reactively and synthetically in our conditioned self. Paradoxically, our wounded experience creates the conditioned self -- as the conditioned self cyclically regenerates more woundedness. Breaking this cycle is what real healing addresses.

If we wish for a real healing, we must truly want to live authentically and this means we must befriend ourselves within our difficulties rather than throw psychological band-aids, drugs and scalpels at our personal challenges. This means that, for a time, we must live within the wound to understand its nature; accept our experience there; feel our feelings; stop reacting to our pain and learn how to simply be with our woundedness.

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 accept what is, and learn the lessons inherent within the 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 happiness and our freedom.

This notion of freedom is an illusive one that we pay lip service to on a regular basis. The German physiotherapist and psychological sage, Wilhelm Reich, believed that the human yearning for true freedom could not be realized because the human body had become so conditioned to perceive with suspicion the heightened charge of excitement that arises when biological armament is deconstructed.

In an old Western paradigm, I can agree with Reich’s viewpoint but new ways have come to us thanks to Eastern meditation philosophies along with the wisdom teachings of indigenous cultures and sacred plant medicines as well as accelerated insights that are arising in our collective consciousness regarding the mind and matter interface; biofeedback, quantum physics and homeopathic remedies come to mind. All together this is an exciting time of new awareness and yet real healing work by nature is rigorous and intimate and always involves getting to the root of our core wound.

What is a wound?

A wound is an energetic constriction of life-force energy. Imagine a child who was deeply shamed growing into an adult with little confidence, who second-guesses every decision; or how even the idea of “commitment” can bring up great anxiety for the individual who is still impacted by the marital problems of his or her parents.

Wounds can be temporary or long term. When healing energy makes contact with a wound, a cleansing and rebuilding experience naturally occurs. This happens on biological, psychological, emotional and spiritual levels which mutually re-enforce one another. When healing energy cannot make contact with the wound, for whatever reason, the wound is isolated from a cleansing and no re-building can take place. The unhealed wound must then be
managed.

Managing unhealed wounds becomes, over time, a life style characterized by coping behaviors and unconscious reactions. This state of woundedness is crippling to the spirit, depleting to the physical body and, sadly, is the source of humanity's spiritual malaise and social decay. But there is another kind of wound, or perception of our wound, that need not be crippling and that, ironically, is the source of great healing.

The difference between the crippling kind of wound and the wound that holds our passport for the healing journey is that, in the former, we identify with our pain and feel victimized; in the latter, feeling our pain tempers us, makes us stronger for life and shows us what we need to heal. In this way wounds, and the healing of wounds, assist the evolution of soul. I call these wounds fertile wounds.

Here’s the choice. We can become fixated upon our wounds and be limited and run by them, or we can use our wounds as fertile soil for personal transformation. The intent of this writing is to celebrate choice and free will and to encourage you to engage yourself in a fresh way with the aspects of your life that hunger and thirst for healing so that real healing occurs. And this real healing only occurs when we are brought to our edge.

The philosopher Guillame Apollinair wrote:

“Come to the edge,” he said.
They said “We are afraid.”
“Come to the edge,” he said.
They came.
He pushed them.
And they flew.

Though everyone is at some point called to his or her own edge, relatively few people “seize the day” and begin the journey, from that edge that takes us full circle into the mystery that holds us all. The gift of our painful difficulties is that, through them, we are humbled into surrendering our synthetic notions about our lives.

For whatever reason you picked up this article, or it found you, an invitation has arrived that will remind you just how close you are to your own edge, your desire to fly, your fear of being free and your undeniable knowing that your very existence itself is, in one instant, awesome beyond belief and, in the next, utterly overwhelming.

The good news is that we are resourceful creatures and are capable of changing overwhelm into awe by a very simple decision to look at things with fresh eyes. Instead of seeing what irritates us as the enemy and the problem, try looking at the irritating itch as a karmic opportunity to cultivate soul.

This itch in our lives serves a purpose, just as the irritating grain of sand caught in the stomach of an oyster eventually becomes a pearl. In every life there’s an irritating itch that can serve to motivate and catalyze movement to some new placement wherein our entire viewpoint transforms and a significant experience transpires. Two examples illustrate this. If we follow our anger to its source we will find our capacity to forgive; when we uncover our deepest fear, we will see beside it our lost faith. And when we embark on this journey, we also discover that we are never alone.

May this season be a time for real healing~

Fred and his wife, Cheryl, have offered their courses for over thirty years in Gualala at The Pacific School of Massage and Healing Arts. Their new program for non-professionals: Body Wisdomsm is now enrolling for 2009.

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