For much of the last year I’ve been fascinated by the process of healing.
That’s partly because I’ve been in a deep period of life transition. But there’s more to it than that.
A few months ago I finished my final relationship coaching class. (Yay! I’m now a certified relationship coaching specialist.) And just like all the other coaching classes I’ve taken, we were briefed on the distinctions between counseling and coaching.
So let me bring you up to speed by quickly sharing them:
- counseling is about past issues, healing, and insight.
- coaching is about present/future issues, personal growth, and action.
Got it? You probably saw that word-healing-again.
If you look closely you’ll notice there’s an implication that healing occurs only with what we’ve experienced in the past. And once we’ve attended to the baggage we’re carrying around (and trust me, we’re all toting something), then we’re done. Fini. Healed. Past tense. No more need to deal with that stuff.
OK, I admit, this had me scratching my head for years. Maybe it’s because I’ve been a counselor a lot longer than I’ve been a coach. But it just doesn’t make sense.
I mean, isn’t healing a process rather than an end result? And doesn’t it seem limiting to apply it only to the past?
I’ve noticed it pushes its way into the present all the time, and we may be in need of emotional healing for any number of bends in the road. You know, detours like floundering relationships. Lay offs. Confusion about the future. Loss. The existential questions of life. Feeling stuck. Being mired in not-enoughness.
All life challenges, by the way, that you can work on with a coach. Some very good coaches, as a matter of fact.
So coaching, I think, has some relationship to healing.
And that’s what I told my teacher and the other students. They were cool with it and even sort of agreed with me. They also pointed out that perhaps the coaching profession has to draw these boundaries for fear that coaches will get nabbed for practicing counseling without a license. But that’s entirely another issue.
Anyway, you might think I got what I needed on the healing front, right?
Well, no. Because even after these conversations my fascination with healing continued. And then everywhere I turned I noticed someone or some thing claiming to have healing powers. In some cases, even asserting that they themselves were Healers. With a capital H.
Just then my cynicism kicked in. I know: it’s not pretty. But I have to admit it.
Don’t get me wrong, you have my utmost respect if you’re a bona fide Shaman or Curandera or Medicine Man. But the rest of us, I think, walk a potentially dangerous path when we anoint ourselves as Healers.
Certainly, in the helping professions, we’re in service of healing, but we aren’t actually doing the healing. And that’s the mystery that was trailing me. That’s where my questions came from.
What truly promotes healing, I wondered? And how does it actually happen, I mused?
I finally decided to stop asking the questions and simply try to be with them. In so doing, I dropped into a moment and heard a client’s story. Just like I do each and every day. And at the end of our session, I realized I already know something about healing. Because the act of telling our stories, allowing someone to listen and witness them, is in and of itself an act of healing.
Yes, of course. I know this. Yet it seems so simple. Perhaps too simple. But I try to remind myself that I don’t have to make this complicated.
Maybe healing isn’t so mysterious after all.
Moments after having that thought I opened a book and read an interview with Angeles Arrien. In it she discusses how most indigenous cultures have four types of healing in common. And she names them the four healing salves. All possessing remarkable restorative powers, and the ability to reclaim our spirits from the slings and arrows of modern-day life.
Four glorious healing salves: Singing. Dancing. Storytelling. Silence.
Wow. Creativity and quiet as the essence of healing.
I put down the book and immediately felt deeply grounded, realizing that this is something I know and have experienced. Something we’ve all experienced and can come home to with that deep-in-our-bones trust I’ve written about before.
I guess I just forgot what I already know. So I set off on a quest, only to discover that the answer was there all along, residing inside of me. Kind of like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.
Now, I’m interested in hearing from you.
- Does healing apply to the past only?
- Is it a process or an end result?
- How do you respond to the four healing salves?
- What do you notice when you spend time storytelling, singing, dancing, and in silence?
* * * * *
In the coming weeks I want to explore the four healing salves. In the meantime, you might like to consider these questions, from Angeles Arrien:
- Where in your life did you stop singing?
- Where in your life did you stop dancing?
- Where in your life did you stop being enchanted with stories?
- Where in your life did you become uncomfortable with the sweet territory of silence?
This post was recycled with fresh art for Art Every Day Month 2012. Comments are closed since I’m on vacation.
* * * * *