Who is a Healer?

As I have noted in past writings, I was trained and educated to become a physician, not a healer. The very term itself would have seem rather poetic and quaint to any young medical student, resident or fellow. Perhaps it would have suggested something not quite legitimate–a ‘faith healer’ perhaps or someone engaged in something not truly scientific or valid.

It took me many years of observation and introspection to come to realize that healing is the true goal of all human interactions. To heal means to ‘make whole’ and to do so requires an awareness of the tri-partite notion of body/mind/spirit.

Clearly knowledge of the functioning of the physical body is essential in order to attempt to achieve healing. Pathophysiology teaches the potential healer how the body can malfunction and what can be done to rectify it. There is no substitute for this understanding of the mechanics of organs, physiological processes and the medications and treatments that exist to correct these abnormalities.

What I have come to realize, even more powerfully than ever, is that the role of the healer is to facilitate the body’s own healing power. The process of healing, therefore, is a collaborative effort rather than the result of someone imposing a corrective therapy upon an unwilling physical entity.

What is often underappreciated is the role of compassion and caring that the healer brings to the relationship with the healee. A good physician can offer treatments for the malfunctioning physical form, a healer can bring so much more to the effort. The connection between healer and healee, the bond that is established does more to facilitate the body’s natural processes than anyone can imagine.

Fear is often an accomplice of disease. Emotional distress disables the body’s reparative systems. The emotional and psychological stresses of life must be addressed if healing is to occur. The true healer is one who recognizes that a smile, an touch on the arm, even an arm across the shoulder is as powerful a treatment as any written prescription.

The placebo effect is one small example of the power of the mind to heal. The intention to help is the intention to heal. The act of presenting oneself for healing is one of submission to another being.  It requires an opening, a trusting, a willingness to be vulnerable. Often this is as much emotional as it is physical.

Our innate immune system is exquisitely senstive to our emotions. Give hope, extend compassion and caring and open up the body to its fullest capacity to heal.

Every healer understands that they possess no true power to heal. They are merely facilitators. It is the love that they project which is key to the entire process.

We are all innately capable of healing others by virtue of our compassion. To offer lovingkindness to another is healing. To be present for another in their times of suffering is healing as well.

I must emphasize that healing is not the same as curing. Healing can occur at any time, any place and under any conditions. To help bring someone else to a state of peace and tranquility even as their bodies are failing is still healing. In this sense it is the highest form of human endeavor.

We live in a fractured universe in which pain and loss and death is inevitable and unavoidable. We could choose to be overwhelmed by this metaphysical truth. Or we can choose to see ourselves as actors in a great play. We are improvsing as we go, ad libbing if you will. We can choose to seek tikkun or healing for others.  We will simultaneously be healing ourselves.

Don’t ask which players is the healer in any healing  relationship. The truth is, both are.

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