What is healing?

I’ve been put on a short leash; keep blog posts to 500 words, the hand holding the leash instructs me. Short attention spans. Your audience has an ever-shortening attention span, the leash informs me, and they’re busy. Busy busy busy. People busy. Busy people. No take time read. What if leave words out sentences? That help word count low?

To be sure, it’d take 5,000 words to introduce this topic properly, and another 50,000 to thoroughly examine it. I know this because I’m writing a book about it–an in-depth one at that. Healing is a massive concept, and the word itself is used in lots of different ways. In our world, healing is generally associated with having situations change in order that we can be happier, healthier, more content, peaceful and so forth. These situations can involve having physical pain subside, having anxiety, depression and anger bid us leave and go about their merry way, having damaged or diseased parts of the body become healthy once more, and working through suffering and loss.

These are all appropriate uses of the term healing, and what they have in common is that there’s a person who desires the development of a particular outcome, and if this outcome comes to pass, then healing is imagined to have taken place. For instance, if I have cancer, meniscus damage in my knee, high blood pressure or I’m grieving the loss of a loved one, I determine that healing has occurred when I no longer have the physical or psychological symptoms that plagued me.

In other words, the way we use the word healing has everything to do with getting what we want. But there’s more to healing that just this. If we really dig into the topic and go beneath the surface, it’s immediately apparent that often in life we don’t get what we want, no matter how much effort we put forth, no matter how much we desire a certain outcome. That’s just how it goes on planet earth. It’s not good or bad, but no one gets everything they desire, and attempting to do so is actually a not so subtle form of narcissism.

And isn’t fascinating in today’s world that when we imagine ourselves to be lacking in some way, we’ll turn to self-help to learn how to remedy our deficiencies? Of course there are times when this is helpful, but there are just as many cases where this only leads to more and more stress as we strive to get what we’ve been told that we want, imaging that having things work out our way, that being in control, that becoming “masters of our destiny” will slake the ego’s thirst and thrust us into healing.

Healing is a process that actually begins with acceptance. Healing begins with the recognition that no matter how bad things may seem, we’re still breathing. And if we’re not breathing, then our suffering is just about to be over! Can you go here? If you can’t, then I assure you that there’s a lot of healing to do. Healing requires the flexibility to accept that everything is completely perfect as it is. Everything. The unhealed mind, the mind that can’t accept, must believe that it’s right, and it must believe that things have to change in order for it to be okay. The unhealed mind goes to war with the world, attempting to fashion the world into what it believes would be best.

This can be misunderstood. Acceptance is a necessary starting point, but it doesn’t mean that we just accept things as fate and don’t take steps to better ourselves or the world. Of course we do! But rather that coming from a place of resistance, when we come from acceptance, we can proceed with love rather than resistance. As we heal, we come to find that we’re entitled to our efforts, but not necessarily to the fruits of our labor. We do our best–we do the very best that we can–and we leave it at that. We take as good care of our bodies, minds and each other as we possibly can, and if we develop a terminal illness, we do whatever makes sense to help ourselves through the situation, but we accept that the outcome ultimately will be what it will be, regardless of how much “I” may want it to be otherwise.

Healing begins with acceptance. As we learn to accept more and more, we begin to realize that what causes us to suffer is that our point of view lacks the capacity to…accept…to accept the way things are, just as they are. Who would you be if you could accept and love anything and everything just the way it is? Who you’d be is freedom. You’d be one whose mind is healing, and you’d be one who can show others the way to freedom…not by showing them how to get what they want by forcing reality to meet their expectations, but by realizing that what’s showing up is already beautiful…just as it is. And as we learn to accept, we come to find possibilities for change that couldn’t have presented themselves while we were adamant that things work out the way we were convinced they had to be. Healing is so much more than the “I” can grasp. It’s more than getting what we want, it’s more than having what must inevitably be let go of. Healing is connecting with the divine inside our minds, and whatever is necessary for this to come about is precisely what will show up in all our lives, as our lives. Healing is the courage to accept without resistance the magnificence that resides inside us, to accept that we’re already perfect, and to let go of attaching to ephemeral phenomena that ensure that we’ll interfere with the healing process that’s always patiently guiding us home.

8 comments on “What is healing?”

  1. Em Reply

    Sometimes I don’t want to get better. I want to suffer. More precisely I want others to suffer. So I hurt myself. There’s something deep that I’m not accepting. The closer I get to it the crazier I feel. I find a part of me encouraging and actually “enjoying” my own suffering and especially others. I go to the movie and find myself wanting to inflict damage and pain and I’m happily obliged to a vicarious indulgence by all the top stars. That’s what heroes do. I’m at war. I’m a war hero. Yet I only lose. I save myself by attacking myself and then I hate myself and want to attack myself more. Accepting all that brings up a deeper level of crazy. I believe it’s my duty to set things right. The whole world is going to hell and I’m the only one who can fix it. Crazy. And the exact role of the hero. Now I’m at war in a different role. Now I’m playing God. And I’m turning a loving God into a punishing one. I can’t bear the weight of all this hate without putting it on mighty shoulders. Now I’ve made a horrible hateful parody of God. And love has completely disappeared and I fear its return and secretly long for it because the whole thing is way out of hand and I don’t know how too stop it. It’s a comedy of compounding errors that yet feels like a tragedy. I’m curled up in a ball in the corner crying for love and broadcasting misery with no idea how to undo what I’ve done. Acceptance?

    • Steven Teagarden Reply

      It takes a great deal of courage to recognize that this is alive inside you. This describes the conflict that everyone feels to a lesser or greater extent while they live in this world. This conflict stems from being wholly identified as a personality at the expense of remembering what it is that we truly are. It’s all upside down and backwards here on earth. We believe our thoughts, we believe what our senses inform us of, and we don’t seem to have the ability to question whether or not it’s sane to do so. What’s more, going through the process of questioning the source, validity and authority of our thoughts and sense perceptions doesn’t immediately lead us to states of enlightenment, but to a mix of great relief, confusion, bewilderment and to temporarily being less certain than we were before.

      It’s a process. Everything here is a process. It’s only possible to suffer so long as we’re thinking, yet we persist in thinking. It’s only possible to suffer so long as we’re thinking and believing our thoughts, and this process seems to happen automatically, as we’re all too familiar with. After all, we’ve been doing this all our lives. And as you’re describing, there seems to be a fragment within your mind that wants to believe these thoughts, that wants to inflame them, to rebel against peace and remained firmly fixed as a suffering soul that wishes to see others suffer, too. A quick glance at politics, sports, religion and business is sufficient to demonstrate that this dynamic is ubiquitous in our world. It really is everywhere. And if you’re somewhere in the process of undoing this madness within your own mind–the madness is only in our thoughts, and our thoughts compel our bodies into the actions that they take–it may seem like the madness is actually escalating. And it is: it’s escalating in your awareness. You’re becoming more aware of the madness that’s always existed in your psyche.

      Which leads us to acceptance. I was referencing Byron Katie in the last paragraph; she astutely pointed out that we only suffer when we believe our thoughts, and there’s no such thing as a true thought. In the process of healing, to reference both Freud and Jung, we have to allow the contents of the unconscious to stream into and inform our conscious mind. And it’s this process we resist with all our might, and it’s this process that requires great courage to accept. We’re accepting that there’s more to life than what we think and believe, and we’re simultaneously resisting that there’s more to life. We all do this; adults usually take greater pains to disguise it whilst children just show you their true colors.

      Acceptance. Accept what’s in your mind’s awareness. Accept the conflict. Sit with it in stillness. Ask yourself if you’re enjoying life while you’re living it in this manner. Ask yourself if you’d rather experience peace. If you would, ask yourself what would have to happen in order for peace to be experienced. Would all the external circumstances have to change in order that peace develop, or might peace develop if you could accept that this is part of the process of allowing the unconscious to surface? There is no coming to consciousness without pain, stated Jung. Damn straight. And as this pain surfaces, we’re either going to eat it for breakfast or project it onto others. What we project we must erect defenses against, because once we project–go on the offensive–we immediately go on the defense because the mind which projects believes that it’s going to be punished. This is straight out of Freud and ACIM, and there are no exceptions to this: projection onto others hurts us, as we’re the other person. What I do to you I do to me. If I project hatred, I experience it in my mind. If I learn to extend love, I experience it in my own mind. As my mind heals, I learn that love is more enjoyable, and I learn to do what leads to love.

      If we could accept anything and everything, come what may, we’re free. What you’re resisting is that you’re beautiful. That you’re worthy of love. That you matter. You’re resisting that God is what you are, that God loves you. So long as you project anger, you make it impossible to accept the beauty that you always already are. This is what we’re up to. This is the game. And until we choose to stop playing the game, we choose to be heroes, to prove to ourselves and the world that we’re great leaders, that we’re powerful, autonomous beings…and our lives go by unexamined. Who are you? Are you that which suffers, or are you something else entirely? Inquire within, my Brother. Peace to you.

  2. Marcela Reply

    Hey Steven! Great job on keeping it under 500 words! That’s a miracle in itself! 🙂
    As always, I appreciate your ability to concisely share big concepts in ways that we can understand and apply in our daily lives. Thanks so much for all of the writing and researching that you’re doing. Helps us all understand the beauty that Emergence Care is as we the practitioners get to receive and give regularly this supreme gift of the Divine! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! Will share. Much love, Marcela

    • Steven Teagarden Reply

      Thank you, Marcella…and I went over 500, but only by about 400, so the leash didn’t tug at me too firmly. I hope all is well with you and yours, and we hope to see you out that way soon. Godspeed, Sister!

  3. Judi Whitewater Reply

    This is an exquisite piece in many ways — the main thing for me is that it carries the ‘feeling’ of the acceptance you are writing about. This piece happened to hit my screen at the right time and turned me around probably about 180 degrees. Nonetheless, as an experienced habitual resister I appreciate your reference to ‘resistance’ both in the blog itself and your response to Em (thanks Em for your contribution!) since there’s a strong tendency to forget about ‘acceptance’ at the first available moment and fall into fight, projection, etc. But seeing how it works every which way (as you describe it so well !) encourages to make an effort to understand, catch in the moment and hopefully … respond differently ?! Thank you … and now I think i’ll just read it again …

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