“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” Helen Keller We all enjoy feeling good. In fact everyone on this planet would join hands in mutual agreement with this timeless truth; we all enjoy feeling good; no exception; its part of who we are! And yet we live in a world of contrasts that offers all of us the opportunity to experience mind boggling potentials and possibilities; nothing is static, everything is change, and no matter how good we feel in this moment, there is always the possibility that we will lose that feeling and desire it all over again. It’s been said many times: life has its ups and downs, there’s no getting away from it, yet the secret to a happy life is not avoiding life’s challenges, its not about striving to live in a one season world, its about learning to surf the waves of life that dance in an eternal state of flux.
In today’s culture we like to keep a bright happy face on things; we equate happiness with success, so what happens when we don’t feel happy? What happens when we don’t feel so good? I can’t count the number of people I have come across who balk at the idea of healing, they say “there’s nothing wrong with me!” And in that answer we can already see the problem; it’s very unattractive to admit your humanity, to become vulnerable enough to fail in the imagined eyes of others. When we become physically sick we have little choice but to admit we have a problem, because someone’s going to notice that something is wrong at some point. But what about other forms of suffering like depression, addiction, sadness, and trauma? Well in truth as a culture we aren’t very comfortable with those things; we deny their true reality, and keep their faces hidden from those we love. Buddha said “Our sorrows and wounds are healed only when we touch them with compassion.” I take this to mean that through compassion we are able to acknowledge how hurt we are, allow ourselves to feel what really is, and accept the truth of who we are and who we are not. I believe that acceptance is the threshold of true healing, and that part of the task is to bring ourselves out of denial. Healing is about looking at what is, and through deep acceptance, coming into wholeness. Awareness is a profound catalyst in the process of healing, for in those golden moments of clarity and insight, locked energy is released and transformation occurs.
In my view, given the world we are all born into, every single person will at some stage in their lives need to undergo a healing journey of one kind or another in order to renew life, love and happiness. Healing is in fact a natural part of life; it’s not something we ever need to be ashamed of; it’s not a sign of weakness; it’s not a symptom of failure. Modern culture is currently in a healing crisis of its own: we have become the most medicated generation in history, numb to our feelings and emotions, but we don’t have to wait until we get physically sick or have a nervous breakdown before we take action; we can learn to read the signs much earlier, and help ourselves much sooner.
So how do we know when to heal? In short, we have lost equilibrium when we realise that we don’t feel good anymore and feel stuck there. Knowing when to heal, involves honouring our feelings, and being honest with ourselves, for if we pay attention to what’s going on, we can more easily determine any decline in personal wellbeing. I believe that we should always be at the centre of our healing process; there is no one who knows better what’s going on than you. That means that we must learn to be our own navigators and realise that only we can heal ourselves; the odds of success are greatly reduced if we simply hand ourselves over to someone else to sort out our problems. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t connect with doctors, therapists or healers; it means cultivating healing relationships that make us equal participants, where we are actively involved at the heart of what ails us; we need to be willing to help ourselves. Tori Amos puts it like this: “Healing takes courage, and we all have courage, even if we have to dig a little to find it.”
There are many ways we can help ourselves; there are many roads to wellness, each unique to the individual, yet whichever route we may choose to take, true healing always involves change, for change is at the heart of renewal. In every community, there is work to do be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart, there is the power to do it.