I once gave an energy healing session to a dying man. When I suggested some meditative energy balancing exercises for him to do on his own after the session, he joked, "For my longevity, right?" I had to catch my breath for a moment before being able to respond, "Well maybe, but certainly for your sanity!"
That moment clarified for me one of the most salient differences between a medical and a holistic approach to wellness, and what we mean when we talk about "healing."
Healing, in the way the term is used in holistic approaches, isn't necessarily about "curing" a disease or ailment, or even about prolonging life; it's about being able to live with more clarity, authenticity, balance, and ease, no matter the circumstances. We don't get to choose what happens to our physical bodies, and there's no way to prevent all illness and injury, yet we can choose how we experience illness and other challenges. We can be "healed" even when it might not look that way from the outside.
Some of the ways that "healing" shows up in my clients include:
finding gratitude and mindfulness in their daily routines
learning to tune in to their body and respect its needs
acting with humility and kindness rather than aggression and defensiveness
forgiving themselves and others for harmful behaviors
speaking up for themselves and in support of others
seeing the bigger picture and making decisions according to their highest values
connecting to something timeless and beyond themselves
These practices are indicative of the healing process as well as restorative and fortifying themselves; it's a virtuous cycle. Yet I've learned that while sometimes healing looks like being able to face the end of life with grace and humor, sometimes it looks nothing like that.
The energy balancing techniques I practice often bring relief on multiple levels, and still l have to be open to the possibility that not all of my clients will "get better" in the way that I hope, or that the healing process might just look different from what we are expecting. Some people experience immediate benefits, whereas for others it's more subtle. Miraculous cures and dramatic turn-arounds can happen, and I have witnessed and participated in some, though I have also seen incremental improvements that you might blink and miss, and frustrated clients who are desperate for relief that I am unable to provide.
Then again, I am often reminded that sometimes what shifts, clears, and releases in a session has profound effects that only show up days, weeks, or months down the road. I had a client who had been struggling with anxiety and depression and didn't seem to be feeling much better after a few sessions. I asked her whether she noticed any changes since we began working together and she thought for a moment, then told me, "Well, it's been a few weeks since I've spent my lunch break crying at my desk like I used to." That's something!
Healing is a mysterious, profound, unknowable process filled with frustrating and unexpected twists and turns, trivial everyday annoyances, plus awe and grace. I am grateful to witness and support its unfolding.