The Radical Healer’s Journey
It is only looking back that I can see the many faceted healing journeys I have travelled and with the benefit of time, see how a sort of theme or “schedule” has emerged.
Some may call this a spiritual journey into healing.
Some may call it a healing plan.
Some may call it the Five Stages of Healing
Some may say it is none of the above.
So humour me if you will if I just call it ...
The Radical Healer’s Journey.
Healing, not just fixing
There was a time in my younger adult years when all healing meant was recovery from an illness, getting over pain, a clearing up of a symptom and then it was back to life as usual. I still meet many whose definition of healing is somewhat similar.
Some 20 years ago, when all seemed well in my world, it was Caroline Myss,
theologian, mystic, spiritual teacher, and author who came into my life one evening,
as a guest at my then hotel, and first alerted me to the notion that most of us –
myself in particular as she was aiming this at me at the time – go through life asleep.
Spirit or God or the Universe, or whatever nomenclature you care to use, sees you are
on the wrong path, tries to tell you that you need to wake up and so will send a little
nudge here (you maybe lose your job), a little hint there (next month you maybe lose
your partner), little wake up calls if you will (a few months later you maybe have an
accident). And if you are so asleep so as not to notice, then you get the big whammy –
the full enchilada - when literally life will go down like dominoes – you’ll get the
job loss, divorce, accident, financial crisis, mega health scare etc. all at one and the
same time. And the Universe smiles – “Now do we have your attention? We have
had to stop you from continuing on the crash course you were on.
Wake up, smell the roses, and plant new seeds.”
She tried to tell me, in her inimitable direct way. And I had no idea what she was talking about so I ignored her (and the nudges winks and accidents.) Then a year later it happened. Suddenly, I would like to say without warning, but for goodness sake “they” had been warning me for several years with their winks, nudges, and obvious messages and I just had not connected the dots, but I had been warned and had ignored the warnings and one Friday night they went down, the dominoes -and within 24 hours I had lost everything – including my health.
And so began my healer’s journey, except at the time I was so asleep, I had no idea my life was being re-arranged and that numerous paths lay ahead.
The Hero’s Journey
Caroline was in fact describing a version of The Hero’s Journey – some of you may have heard of it. At the time, I had not.
The concept of the Hero’s Journey was first put forward in 1949 by writer Joseph Campbell in his book 'The Hero With a Thousand Faces'. He wrote about the widespread similarities between many well-known narratives from differing cultures around the world. He wrote, “
A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.'
Most myths and legends centre around this succinct journey, expanded by Campbell into seventeen stages which you can read about here. The link will take you to a new website.
The Radical Healer’s Journey
Stage One Asleep
Most of us, in what we call our real world, our everyday world, actually go around asleep, blind, and deaf. We are unaware or, at least, lack consciousness or our consciousness is limited to our own little world. We seldom notice what’s going on around us and the deeper societal issues that confront us. Similarly, we close our ears to what we hear.
We are hugely hypnotised by media, often into not knowing what to believe, confused as to where Truth may lie, numbed by terrorism and war, greed and corruption, it all feels just about too much and it’s easier to switch off, to disconnect. Except, it really isn’t easier at all. It’s like ignoring a huge, great big cancer.
Our mind-set, if we could but be honest, is often that life revolves around little old me – it’s all about me. Except we don’t really know who we are or why we are here or what the purpose of being here is.
This “real” world if the world of do as we are told, we fit in, we become ill, we take the meds, they don’t work, and we wend our way to an early grave. (I am being a little melodramatic! But it can happen!) We meet, we fall in love, we break up, we divorce. Well, that’s life in the real world is it not – easy come, easy go! Inside we hurt, outside we say we are fine. (Which really means we are fucked-up, insecure, neurotic and emotional!) Deep down we want to give up; having checked into life we find we don’t like it so we feel we want to check back out but few of us have the courage for suicide. That takes guts. And most of us at this level live with wishbone, not backbone.
Societies have mass medicating with anti-depressants, mood calmers, statins - just in case we get a heart attack, and to reduce our cholesterol, although there is no proven link between the two. Being conned seems the norm. Who can we trust? We talk of democracy but it is a sham because politicians with no qualifications to do the job, suddenly thrust into “power,” decide to run our lives and we in our lack of awareness, in our sleep, vote them in and put up with them. Except that, the populous is rising up; it is awakening. Or are you too asleep to notice? Interesting how many users of the NHS can see it crumbling, as a serious case for treatment, except politicians and those working for the NHS at a senior level.
And what of the uprising? Is this a new adventure about to unleash? Maybe, just maybe, we are learning today is a new day, a new moment to learn, to learn that our chronic fatigue is not just simple tiredness but that we have been living so much on fear and stress that are adrenal glands are no longer fully functioning. But then most doctors have yet to hear of adrenal fatigue so how do we get help on this journey to combat fatigue?
Or there are those serious life incidents which robbed our life of sweetness and joy and have triggered diabetes as we sought to cope by eating our way to comfort and sweetness, or that our lack of any sense of purpose or usefulness is maybe the consequence of a job that has truly crushed the life force out of our soul.
Today, as we awaken, we realise we can choose to see things differently, to do differently, and to be differently.
Then we think there is no structure, or model, or framework to get us through this day and so fall back into the next dark night, until we realise that if we each take responsibility for using our creative powers to find a structure and discipline, then we can find one collectively. We aren’t all individual individuals!
So really, what is stopping us stepping out on a new adventure? Nothing! Except ourselves.
Stage Two Awaken, become aware and informed
Things happen to cause us to see that life is not just about us; it is about us in the context of others, of community and movement, of energy and motion, us in the world, and that despite our differences we are all united, we are all One, the one spark of the infinite Divine, one diamond of the universal all. Whether we agree with it or not we are One spirit, we a fragment of the Universal Spirit. And it’s not religious for that is man-made.
This dawning can be a sudden awakening, or a gentle rising from the slumbers, exposed to a series of ever mounting-in-seriousness wake-up calls. The Universe knocks and if we are in a deep sleep, we may not hear it. But be assured, it will keep knocking, ever more loudly to the voice that says, “Awaken, become aware, inform yourself. There is another way.”
We move from living a life of lies, illusion, and deception, to an inner compulsion for the truth. We become aware of a still small voice within us that says today we are different from yesterday; we are on a new trajectory. Consciously or through hard work, we become aware of our childhood conditioning, the abuse we experienced, the times we were rejected or denied or made to feel less-than, we become aware of our limiting beliefs and we start to inform ourselves as to how we can wipe the slate clean and reprogramme ourselves for an authentic and true life of being healed, whole, complete, and healthy – living successfully and well with clarity of purpose and connection. And the blessing I, there I more than one way to do this – and it doesn’t involve drugs, radiation, or surgery!
We decide to take responsibility for our health and not to give our power to the big medical and pharmaceutical machines. We see more clearly our medical practitioners as human beings, mostly of good intention, but limited and held back as cogs in a very inefficient, expensive, outdated, and at times blind, deaf, and asleep medical, health and care system.
We honour our cynicism, we may get angry and for a time it may go out of control until we decide to channel negative emotions into even deeper awakening, for our greater good, and now for the greater good of all concerned. We set out to inform others, to help others; not all of us will choose large projects – some of us will help by sharing news, lending a helping hand, helping others wake up. It may be one person, it may be a hundred, it may be a whole nation. We each have our purpose, each playing a part in keeping this world alive. We feel empowered, impassioned. We hear the call, we heed the call.
One of the reasons you may be waking up is because your soul has always known that you are called to use your creative energy to heal not just yourself, but the planet and its people.
But you are a soul being of bits – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. So to heal, you have to heal all of yourself and not just the blemishes and the bruises, the fractures and fevers. You need to attend to the myriad fractured parts of your psyche, the parts of your mind that harbour thoughts and beliefs that not only do not serve you but directly do you harm. As you heal, you will almost hear the call of the wild that, even in the process of your healing, not waiting till you are healed, your duty is to serve the healing of others. And sometimes that will awaken you way out of your comfort zone but remember – you will never be asked to undertake something for which you are neither qualified nor are not supported to do.
Stage Three Be radical and bold
We start out with a radical concept – we choose to love ourselves, not in a
narcissistic way, but to truly love and profoundly accept who we are right now.
We cannot begin the voyage of healing if we cannot accept where we are right now.
Our actions and intentions become deliberate and mindful, we are aware of
the consequences of our actions and non-actions.
To repeat, because we often need reminding, we commit to love ourselves
even if it seems difficult and others think we are woo woo and deluded.
When people judge us, we now know they are hurting, and judging
We know it is radical to say so, but hey, let’s be bold, let’s admit it -
only Love works; it heals and holds everything together. Fear and hate and
the notion that my god is better than yours, simply drive people apart.
Whatever we call it, we commit to detoxifying (it’s an in vogue word!) – to ridding ourselves of unhelpful thoughts, attitudes, and behaviours. In practical terms, if we know alcohol does us no good, we quit – even with a struggle. If food is our demon, or dysfunctional, dishonest relationships are our addiction – we commit like the snake to a shedding of old skins that no longer serve. Sometimes this calls for radical, bold action – heavens, we may lose friends, we may not know who we are for a while – but at least we know we are in the process of finding out this time, not asleep and we can live without being held back by people and their judgements.
We explore and discover the core beliefs that are holding us back – maybe after dealing with our resistances to new language – like core beliefs!
If our health is our issue – we may choose to realise that all the answers are not to be found in an outdated paradigm such as that found in our present health system, and however we do it, we look elsewhere – to models and modalities that may have names, or may not – integrative medicine, functional health, CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine,) naturopathy and homeopathy; as we open to new ideas, they will come to us, we will find them and they us, and they may not all come under one umbrella. Your beliefs will change, more so than you could ever imagine…provided you let them and do not let your ego, small self, put them back in a box and constrain you.
And as we build new paradigms, we break down old ones, we shed relationships, jobs, lifestyles. Our priorities change.
And oops – just in case we get too excited we meet the demon “gloom” – in the guise of those in your life, including your medical professionals, who will not necessarily be supportive of your evolving enlightenment who will seek to do you down, judge, ridicule, and criticise you, disapproving of your new approach to health and healing, to eating and living. Be warned, you can expect to be severely tested, particularly to walk your truth when perhaps you are still not totally sure what that is but, anyway, you move forward in trust and conviction, a gut instinct telling you this is the way to go.
You may even feel isolated – but you boldly step on, upping your level of self-care and loving yourself at a time when it can seem no one else cares or loves.
Keep expressing gratitude for where you now are compared to yesterday; sure you may not feel you have arrived but isn’t life richer than where you once were, and we are not talking material riches for that is NOT what this journey is about. You know at this stage that pennies and pounds are not the purpose.
You are being tested to step into and live in authenticity – to know your high values and standards and live them.
Stage Four Be open and bless
This journey requires you to be open – even when doors close. To be open only to receiving all good – you are not in the market for negativity and judgement. By now you set clear boundaries as to what and whom you will allow into your life, and what and whom you won’t.
Energetically you send out a message to the Universe that you are open for business and people and possibilities to help come into your life (provided you still have not gone back to sleep!)
A sense of spiritual wonder is likely to have emerged though you may not call it that. It will be a sense of knowing that there is a power higher than your own brain and mind out there – and within you, that can be communicated with if you remain open, and more than that is the source of all the help you will ever need. The key is to open to your own inner higher mind point of contact that makes point of contact with the Universal Divine power.
You may experience greater moments of awe and wonder where you feel so blessed, you are fit to burst; you become a natural blessing to others, simply because of the joy you now exude.
And ever aware, you ensure that you stay aware to others; some may be blinded by your light and so there will be times and ways in which you choose to be a blessing to others and perhaps times not – but the key will be, without seeking reward or recognition. You are a blessing from the heart because the Divine heart within says so.
You see a poorly person on a bus and there is nothing practical you can do to help but you know in your heart that thoughts are energy and it is unhelpful to think thoughts of pity, poor them, and so instead you become a blessing, sending them thoughts for their success and well-being. Their Higher Mind point of contact will receive your transmission and a chemical reaction will be stimulated within the person and a healing process begun.
When you commit to being a blessing, the Universe will send you myriad opportunities each day to bless.
Your role is to show up and trust – to keep shedding your false self, and trust that the real self is emerging more and more deeply. Striving can go, ease and peace are ushered in. Sure you still have challenges but your energy is not one of struggle but to step forth in trust and faith. You surrender to know so many spiritual truths, how spiritual laws work, and you allow it to work for you. You know that as you created something, if it doesn’t fit, you can uncreate it and create something else. Is that not a gift to be blessed?
Is it not a blessing to be able to face the demons, embrace them, and replace them?
How peaceful is it when you know that all you need do is be the presence of Love and Blessing.
How peaceful is it to just let go and BE?
To give up on all the judgements and criticisms, comparisons and chaos, the asking why, why me, why this, why now, to just know that everything is in Divine right order.
Stage Five Be happy, be well
As you give, so you get.
As you bless, you too are blessed. And not just because you feel good at having done a good deed. In truth that may be your ego having a little pride moment; but if it feels right in the fibre of your being, it is likely to be the Divine, or Divine messengers, the angels, thanking you for your deeds, for your contribution.
Love is sometimes such a misuse word – but when you wake up and experience each day with a sense of gratitude, for being, for giving, for Loving, for blessing, then Love will feel like a huge wash of gratitude.
As you live, nurture, and love yourself and your life, your body will respond – it will come back into balance, and as it does, it will heal.
Healing is not just about having some pills, radiation, or surgery to chop bit out or patch you up; yes, sometimes that is needed. But radical healing is awakening and taking a radically different and often bold choice in the way you live.
We realise that health is not just the absence of disease – it is about a sense of well-being and wellness on a plane which almost defies description, it’s a living from the heart, a heart that connects with all other hearts, a heart that withholds nothings, knows no conditions.
There is no complacency that “I have arrived” for in truth, you go on learning. You’ll keep checking in on your blind-spots, pinching yourself in ways that ensure you haven’t fallen back asleep. Arguments and struggles will be more joyously held as you ask, “How would Love have me deal with this?” or “Is it important for me to be right or to be happy?” You see, you are reminded again, it isn’t all about you. And it never was. Only your ego told you that.
Community is key – beginning often with an empathy for others and an understanding for of them for why they do what they do and extending to feeling a deep soul of connection with all of humanity, a reminder that we are all one – regardless of our ethnic origin, colour, gender or any other way we have of demarking people.
The path of wisdom
In closing this page, there is another path to draw to your attention – the path or way of wisdom.
Angeles Arrien* says that life will be simple if we follow the four-fold way counselled by indigenous peoples:
1. Show up, be present with the sum of our parts - mental, emotional, physical and spiritual.
2. Pay attention not just to the mind as we favour in the West but to what has heart and meaning.
3. Tell the truth without blame or judgment.
4. Be open to what unfolds, to outcome, and not be attached to a specific outcome.
On a rainy, wet, cloudy, dark day we can wish all we like that it were different and get ourselves worked up or disappointed, or we can accept it is as it is, raining, rain is wet, skies are cloudy, light is dark, we can then more peacefully, calmly, and with acceptance, choose how better to respond.
*Dr. Angeles Arrien (1940 -2014) was an anthropologist, founder and president of the Angeles Arrien Foundation for Cross-Cultural Education and Research and author of The Four-Fold Way. She explained her own perspective in an interview in 2002:
I really trust the mystery. I trust what comes in silence and what comes in nature where there’s no diversion…There’s a tendency to want to be other than where I am, rather than to face that and to trust that I am on schedule and that this is what I’m learning.
What does this demand of you?
Self Love and Self Care
Awareness and acceptance
Openness and non-attachment
Honesty and authenticity
Diligence and discipline in staying the course, however you have defined the course for despite this “plan” – the content will be very different for each of us.
Space, time out, and silence.
An allowing instead of a forcing.
A noticing of the opportunities as the Universe brings them to you.
A facility to ask with each life experience, “What is this trying to teach me? What am I meant to learn?”
What are my relationships teaching me?
How do I express my gratitude?
How do I bless?
How do I love?
How do I influence change – away from the material, the organisational, the systemic, the inhumane and to create more compassion, understanding, and humanity?
How do I honour the Sacred and how do I encourage others and organisations to do so?
And when it comes to health, how will you maintain your influence in bringing about a change in our current paradigm, one that see the body and health as more than just a bag of bits with symptoms, as a whole, interconnecting, intercommunicating range of parts all of whom have their role in keeping us healthy, well, and alive.