What does it mean to heal?

I lifted the below quotes off a blog called, “Determined to Heal.” These are ideas I work with too. What does it mean to heal?

I want to point out that healing to me does not mean returning to what one was before something went wrong. Wholeness does not necessarily mean normal. And even the word recovery is problematic because, frankly, I don’t want what I had before. Who wants to go backwards anyway? Healing means being whole even while still perhaps not functioning like others. To me it also suggests being even better than before for all that is learned on the journey.

It’s about accepting and being completely who you are with whatever limitations you have. I may be very sick now, but I also have a better sense of self and, well, wholeness, even in my broken body and that is because my body is not what ultimately determines my overall well-being. It is only a part of my being. And heck, our bodies do eventually all give out, don’t they?

These are just meanderings about a topic that deserves much more attention.

The Determined to Heal’s author’s personal definition is:

I define healing as a process of moving towards wholeness. To me, wholeness is the consciousness within all of us that knows no boundaries.

Here are some of the definitions she collected. (go here to see whole post)

“I like to think of the word ‘healing’ in the relationship to curing, as coming to terms with things as they are. What healing is is a process through which we come to terms with the actuality of our situation in the present moment. Now, the beauty of healing is that healing is possible even in the absence or the very improbable likelihood of a cure — that the work of healing can be done right up to our last breath.”  Kabat-Zinn (2004)

“Healing may not be so much about getting better as about letting go of everything that isn’t you – all of the expectations, all of the beliefs – and becoming who you are. Not a better you, but a ‘realer’ you….People can heal and live, and people can heal and die. Healing is different from curing. Healing is a process we’re all involved in all the time. Healing is the leading forth of wholeness in people. I think that healing happens only in the context of our imminent awareness of something larger than ourselves, however we conceive that.”  –  Remen, N. R.  (1993).

Healing as the ways that an individual relates to the suffering triggered by his or her medical conditions. Patients’ journeys through illness and healing manifest individualistically from their foundations in religious and spiritual belief systems and practices. Bedard, J. (1999).

Healing as transcending suffering. Egnew interviewed medical and psychological experts such as Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Bernie Siegel, and Carl Hammerschlag, and coded his findings into themes of “wholeness,” “narrative,” and “spirituality.” Egnew, T. R. (2005).

Healing as a relational process, one that is predicated on the harmonic interplay of physical and spiritual forces between beings and elements. Illness as a healing process in itself. – Barasch, M. I.
(1994, June).

Love that snippet at the end of the last quote. Illness as a healing process in itself. Yes! Because god knows deep parts of my being are far healthier now than when my body was seemingly healthy, though in point of fact it’s been many many years since my body was healthy. Illness can cleanse the soul. And learning to deeply heal the body is a lovely education in returning to the earth.

While I’m on this topic I just thought of a quote I once posted by Deena Metzger about “Sacred Illness.” I’ll share that too:

A sacred illness is one that educates us and alters us from the inside out, provides experiences and therefore knowledge that we could not possibly achieve in any other way, and aligns us with a life path that is, ultimately, of benefit to ourselves and those around us. – Deena Metzger

Little update. My husband shared some thoughts on this post and I’m going to share them.

As a reflection spawned by your post, it seems to me that our distorted view of health comes from living in an over-physicalized culture. We equate health with peak physical condition ignoring the fact that a person can have a perfect body yet a fragmented being, or conversely a sense of wholeness within what might appear to be a broken body. The real barometer of health is spiritual rather than physical. The times when we say we feel most alive are when we feel most deeply connected to life itself — not our own life, but life in its totality.

This is an edited and expanded version of an older post.

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