Healing is a Process, Not a Pill

A friend and I were recently sharing our experiences in exploring healing work, specifically healing childhood issues of the past that continue to affect our current relationships.

She expressed to me that by doing healing work she had thought that wounds would be resolved. Through workshops and practices that would offer healing, a solution and a final end to long-held emotional blocks and pain could be found. She was now realizing this may not be the case.

We are often sold messages that meditation creates bliss and yoga will keep our bodies flexible and strong, or that mindfulness is the answer to overcoming fear and anxiety. There are a multitude of healing modalities out there that promise to help us heal our body and mind.

Naturally, we expect results from these practices and modalities and the way the results will look is that we will feel much better. We may also tend to hope (understandably) for immediate results that will meet our expectations for what feeling much better looks like. You just want to know that whatever issues in your life you struggle with personally and interpersonally, with family or with work, will eventually go away.

No one told me that when I would start healing work, shit would come up and it would feel pretty shitty.

Often I would go see a practitioner and I would feel better during and right after the session, but then stuff would come up the following weeks and months. Physical pain, uncomfortable feelings and old patterns arose. A relationship would face me with exactly what I was trying to avoid. Old pain would surface. New pain would come up. There would appear to be no resolution.

All of this is incredibly frustrating when one holds an expectation that healing work means that one will feel better. What I didn’t realize (and still need to remind myself) is that this was part of the healing process.

True “healing” is not a pill, it’s a process. A pill can get rid of a symptom. Allopathic doctors and other health care practitioners are great for that. Healing is something different, as it intends to involve looking at the root cause of illness or disease and requires a much more in-depth investigation into your body-mind and spirit to get to the source issue.  I believe healing is natural process of the evolution of self and healing modalities propel us into this exploration.

What I’ve experienced and observed is that the healing process is non-linear and cyclical. It ebbs and flows. It is not done in the practitioner’s room necessarily. If you are on a spiritual healing path opportunities for healing will show up everywhere in your life.

This can cause the healing process to be very confusing when you’re in it, because what you are often trying to heal comes up around you, reflecting back what you have asked to have healed! That fear that you wanted resolved is now coming up with a vengeance! That stupid issue that you’ve been trying to get rid of is more noticeable than it was before to you. What you were trying to heal appears to have worsened. Maybe it has not. Maybe it’s just appeared because you asked for it to come up. (Remember when you asked for healing? Be careful what you ask for!)

If you look at it from that perspective, in actuality, if you are feeling like a bit of a mess, you may actually be healing! When you feel as though you are slipping backwards, falling into old patterns and forgetting all the work you’ve done so far, you may actually be taking a giant leap forward.

Sometimes you have to fall apart before you put yourself back together again. In my experience, it is when pain arises in my body, or I’m really struggling with an issue in my relationship, that I know healing is just on the other side of this. This is especially helpful if I keep this perspective and practice non-attachment to the outcome.

I don’t like to feel pain and difficult emotions and my mind will quickly race to find conclusions. When I’m in pain or am coming up against something from my past I wish to heal, I definitely look for support.  But what I’ve learned from self-healing severe chronic pain is the best thing to do is not look for resolution or depend on others for my own healing. I practice self-care by allowing myself to be with the uncomfortable feelings. I practice being with any pain sensations I may be experiencing. I let go of guilt around not healing quickly enough, or thoughts that I may be doing something wrong. I remain curious and most of all, I practice patience and let go of expectations and my desire for quick results.  

I’ll say again, healing is a process, not a pill. Healing core issues will probably involve years of healing work and attention. Some issues may never heal, but eventually, you may be able to make different choices and these choices may positively affect your health, well-being and relationships. Your perspectives may change your experiences of the issue you struggle with and some sort of resolution may occur.

And if you keep at it, keep conscious diligently paying attention and practicing patience and self-compassion, you will find resolution. It’s inevitable because when you are in this process of questioning, learning and exploring, you are healing. (This feels incredibly good for the ego, too, until the next issue arises! Then you’re like, “WTF?! More!” Yep. You are human, after all!)

All I can offer to make the journey a little bit easier is reassurance that you may already be farther along than you think. I want to tell you that what you’re experiencing is all normal and natural and you’re not doing anything wrong. In fact, you may already be a very enlightened, healthy and whole spiritual human being.

*Photo by Kelly Gordon.

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