I am feeling so sad today. I am letting go of my fantasy of being the little old crone down the lane who gives out herbal remedies and magical healing. The reality, as with so much of reality, has nothing to do with my dream of how that would be. Working with real people with real, unrelenting pain and physical, chronic disease is nothing like being the fairytale herbal healer. Or maybe it is. I suspect my fantasy healer has boundaries of steel and a magical ability to detach. I finally have raised my surrender flag and admitted that at his time, I don’t have what it takes to live my life as a healer. There must be a rare combination of caring and detachment that I can’t seem to achieve. I have too much caring and too little detachment; too much empathy and too little instinct for self preservation. Even though I am no longer practicing, I am still fascinated by the mysteries of healing and continue to try to understand the complexities of health.
In this process of working with people in their search for health, I have learned a few things. I have learned, first, how little we really know about health and how often medical doctors and alternative healers are without answers.
Health is not one thing. It is every thing. It is so complex that it is as slippery and difficult to pin down as talking about spirituality. It is not this diet, that regimen, this theory, that protocol, this amount of exercise, that amount of food. It is a complex combination of mental, emotional, spiritual and physical states. The devil is in the details and sometimes the details are maddeningly difficult to uncover. Health is understanding the ancestral genetics and emotional traumas passed on to you at birth. Health is learning about your emotional life and keeping current with it. Health is learning to say no; and learning to say yes. It is clean food and a clean environment. It is being paid enough. Health is loving your husband or leaving your husband if you need to. Health is finding what fits for you whether it is fashionable or current or odd or old fashioned.
BMI and blood sugar and blood pressure and cholesterol and frequent colds and flus are symptoms of imbalance. If you are imbalanced for too long, it begins to manifest itself in symptoms. If you don’t listen to the symptoms, they will persist and deepen.
We need to tend our inner life like a garden. Pathogens and pests abound and are at the root of much chronic illness, but if the soil of our inner life is healthy, they have less of a chance of running rampant. I do not want to imply that this is easy to do. It is extremely difficult, especially if we have a large burden of ancestral, genetic issues and life traumas. It is only a goal and a direction for us to head in to find our way out of our chronic states of disease. It is a suggestion that the approach needs to be wholly holistic.
Now my fantasy healer is not one healer. My ideal practitioner’s office would at least have a medical doctor, a manipulative doctor of osteopathy, a massage therapist, a Body Code practitioner, a homeopath and a therapist with connections to other specialists and alternative healers. They would meet together on a regular basis to share ideas about how to approach difficult chronic cases. There would be no animosity, competition and bad mouthing of each other’s disciplines. We need all of our practitioners and we need them to talk to each other.
I am at my best if I sit in silence for a few minutes every day, tuning into my body, mind and spirit. This small act and small space of time is difficult for me to commit to. But if I do, I can feel when I am imbalanced. I may have absorbed someone else’s pain and taken it as my own. I may have some strain or distance with a loved one. I may have a grief that I have been ignoring by being so busy. I may realize that adrenalin has become so familiar I can hardly feel it anymore; or that every little thing startles me and my adrenalin surges constantly. It may come as a shock that I haven’t really looked at the sky or felt my feet on the ground for a long time. I may remember that it feels good to swim. It feels good to do nothing. It feels good to have no obligations for a minute. It feels good to not listen to anyone else’s advice. It feels good to listen first to my own quiet voice and tend my own inner garden.