Joseph Hakim Anderson

What Is Healing?

EIGHT HEALING CONCEPTS

Angeles Arrien's The Four-Fold Way includes this set of "Eight Healing Concepts", developed by Jeanne Achterberg in Woman as Healer. As I continue to work with these concepts their wisdom gets stronger and more accurate.

  1. Healing is a lifelong journey toward wholeness.
  2. Healing is remembering what has been forgotten about connection, unity, and interdependence among all things living and nonliving.
  3. Healing is embracing what is most feared.
  4. Healing is opening what has been closed, softening what has hardened into obstruction.
  5. Healing is entering into the transcendent, timeless moment when one experiences the divine.
  6. Healing is creativity, passion, and love.
  7. Healing is seeking and expressing self in its fullness, its light and shadow, its male and female.
  8. Healing is learning to trust life.

WHAT THE HEALING CONCEPTS MEAN TO ME

  • Healing activities are much more diverse, rich, creative, empowering, and exciting than I ever dreamed.
  • The work I do with chanting, shamanism, teaching, learning, writing, reading, being in deep relationship - all have the potential to bring healing to me, and healing to others.
  • Any of those activities, if done in a narrow, egotistical or lazy way, can lead away from healing.
  • I have the chance to put these concepts into practice every single day: at my technology day job, on the bus, doing taxes, as well as in all the groovy stuff above.
  • The time I spend waiting impatiently for "healing" to start is time that healing is just waiting, waiting, waiting for me to open up and begin.
  • Healing is the hardest thing I do, the best thing I do, the most important thing I do - both for myself and for others.

HOW THEY INFLUENCE MY PRACTICE

  • Healing is a lifelong journey toward wholeness.
    T
    he greatest privilege for me is walking alongside people over time and helping them discover the full shape of their story. Quick fixes for some things may exist; what inspires me is working on the long-term, big-picture challenges and opportunities for health.
  • Healing is remembering what has been forgotten about connection, unity, and interdependence among all things living and nonliving.
    I love working with questions of identity and belonging - I think this the place where separation and isolation most often come into play. The remedy is being able to live into a sense of self that feels connected to All That Is in particular ways: through the natural world, through encounters with new and different cultures, through spiritual practices, and through community.
  • Healing is embracing what is most feared.
    In my experience shamanism in particular is very, very good at presenting us with circumstances that seem completely terrifying and are in fact completely liberating. I have encountered what might seem to be very difficult situations in the spirit world - with a few sensible precautions these encounters have been the source of some of the most potent healing experiences I've ever had. But it's not limited to shamanism: whatever the path, encountering the place of fear--from the garden of Gethsemane to the wrathful deities of Tibetan Buddhist--is a crucial psycho-spiritual phase and fundamental to healing.
  • Healing is opening what has been closed, softening what has hardened into obstruction.
    One of my favorite concepts, and maybe the most important physiologically. It makes complete sense: when we stop resisting life, life starts opening up to us. The Taoist principle of wu wei suggests that softness actually brings great strength and endurance. The water wears away the rock.
  • Healing is entering into the transcendent, timeless moment when one experiences the divine.
    Regret for what is past kills, worry about the future kills, living fully in the present brings life.
  • Healing is creativity, passion, and love.
    Life demands our active engagement, which is sometimes scary and always requires being willing to take risks. There is a stereotypical notion that healing involves backing away - sometimes "being a patient" does mean "being patient" - but ultimately forward is the direction toward healing.
  • Healing is seeking and expressing self in its fullness, its light and shadow, its male and female.
    This is another dimension of moving forward. In theatrical improv, the basic principle is saying "yes" to whatever arises. We are truly well when we can say yes to every aspect of ourselves.
  • Healing is learning to trust life.
    This makes healing a matter of faith: not belief in some doctrine, but rather confidence that the universe is providing for us, has placed us here for a reason, and brings to us circumstances that are perfectly suited for the unfolding of our being in the best possible way.