“A cure signified the banishment of physical illness, but a healing could mean not just a physical cure, but a repairing and strengthening of the mind and spirit to improve the quality of life even when no physical cure was possible.”
—Susan Howitch, Absolute Truths
From a young age, I constantly experienced what it was like to have difficulty breathing.
Any allergens, a shift in weather, or something as simple as fresh cut grass would send my respiratory system into full attack. Constriction and restriction were all I knew for so many years, and by the time I was 18- I was sick and tired of this.
Years of hospitalizations, years of feeling deeply uncomfortable and scared, and years of my little body constantly pumped with steroids.
I can even remember being on a medication that worked to help me breathe, but would cause me to wake up in the middle of the night with heart palpitations. At the time I was 13 and would wake up in the middle of the night thinking I was having a heart attack and that I was too young to die.
Can you imagine?
And not only did these attacks affect my respiratory system- they also deeply affected my nervous system. Between the steroids and the constant fear of when another attack would spring- my nervous system was shot.
So not only was I a chronic asthmatic, I also felt intense anxiety for years. No doubt also due to my sensitive nature, but the asthma and the steroids did not help the situation.
But the only thing my family knew was traditional medicine. And while I’m grateful to my family for getting me the treatment I needed, I was tired of all the drugs. They made me feel like shit, nothing was getting better, and even when they helped me to breathe, they caused other issues.
I started to think- How long will this last? What are the long term effects of these medications? Will I live a long life? Will I ever be able to walk up a flight of stairs without having to whip out an inhaler?
I watched so many family members struggle with their breathing (cue ancestral trauma conversation), and grew up surrounded by oxygen tanks and shopping bags full of medication (no really, my grandma would travel with a plastic bag full of meds).
Something had to give.
And eventually, something did.
I found yoga. I found Reiki. I found meditation. And I realized, I didn’t have to be a victim to this chronic illness. That I could set myself free through alternative therapies and through the understanding that this illness does not define me and that it does not make me any less whole.
Don’t misunderstand, I still experience symptoms from time to time, and sometimes, they are intense. But the difference is that I don’t let it control me or dictate my life, and I certainly don’t medicate myself like I was as a child.
I have learned to listen more deeply to my body. To notice the signs of an oncoming attack, and what I can do energetically to get it under control. I have learned what to eat to reduce inflammation, and how to manage my mindset when shit hits the fan.
Ultimately, I have learned that I am whole in spite of my illness, and this is the difference between healing and curing.
Healing vs. Curing
So often in our society, when we think of being healed, we think of being cured.
This is because of Western Medicine’s perspective on dis-ease and our society's tendency to think in absolutes- categorizing everything in terms of being curable or incurable, leaving no room for anything in-between.
For something to be curable means that it can be completely dissolved, banished, and resolved- no more symptoms, and no more of whatever else is occurring.
Yet with chronic illnesses, and even trauma, curing is not always possible.
We cannot erase our pasts, our trauma, our stories, our chronic illnesses (most of the time), or our adversities.
Sometimes there are things that have happened or that will happen that are out of our control- and they cannot be “cured” or “dissolved”.
However, what can happen is that we can find healing.
Healing is not curing. Healing is not the erasure or resolution of a dis-ease or situation that has caused dismay or led us away from ourselves. Instead, healing, by definition, is the process of making or becoming sound or healthy again.
Healing is ultimately, a return to wholeness. It is a return to the self, the essence of who you are, without all the gunk and limiting beliefs that stand in your way of living a happy, healthy, and whole life.
And I’m here to tell you and remind you that healing is possible.
Ways to Find Healing
If we use this definition of healing, in order to heal we must embark on the journey to return back home to who we are.
Now, I don’t believe healing is linear, and I don’t believe we ever really stop healing- but, I can tell you from experience that it does get easier, and the path back home to myself has been the most rewarding, exciting, and the most beautiful experience of my life.
Has it always been sunshine and rainbows? Absolutely not. But it is 10,000,0000% worth it.
So if you are looking for healing, I encourage you to try one or all of the following things that have personally helped me immensely along my journey:
While some people have an aversion to journaling, starting and continuing a daily dialogue with myself has been one of the most important tools along my journey. When I journal, I do something called stream of consciousness writing, where I write whatever is on my mind, and then eventually my subconscious takes over. I don't think, I just write, and the stuff that comes up is amazing. I could be working through something or just reflecting on my day, but no matter the content, journaling has helped me understand my inner landscape on a new level, and it's a tool I will never go a day without.
Similarly, mediation can be a bit polarizing. One of the most common rebuttals to mediation I hear from my clients, friends, and family, is that they can't sit for long enough to concentrate and steady their minds. However, no one is expecting you to sit for two hours in meditation right off the bat, or ever, if that isn’t something you want to achieve. Mediation could look like a walk in nature, connecting to your internal and external landscape with intention. Feeling your breath, the sun on your skin, and each footstep as it hits the ground. Alternatively, it could look like 3 minutes of breathing deeply in silence, or listening to your favorite guided meditation before bed. Meditation takes on many forms, so take some time to find the version that works best for you.
3. Energy Work
May it be Reiki, Acupuncture, Cupping, etc. find yourself an energy worker. There is more to this life than what we can see physically, and I’m sure you believe that if you have found your way to my blog. Energy work gets to the root of the dis-ease to bring you healing, instead of just remedying the symptoms. Western medicine has a way of putting a band-aid on whatever we are experiencing without getting to the core of the issue. Energy work challenges that and promotes the body’s natural healing abilities. It has drastically changed my life, and I know it can also change yours.
Take a moment and think about your body as a machine. When the machine gets the proper lubrication and fluids it needs to function, it does exactly what it is supposed to do, right? But if it doesn’t, or we use cheaply made lubricant, we risk gunking up the machine, breaking it, and causing it not to function as well. Well, our bodies work the same way. In this metaphor, the proper lubrication is the foods and liquids we put into our bodies. If we are not supplying our system with healthy foods, enough water, and the proper vitamins and minerals, we are risking the same buildup of gunk and slow the body's natural ability to heal itself and recover from a long day’s work. Take a look at your diet and your symptoms and consider how you can begin to incorporate more healing foods that your body needs to function and watch what happens (I highly recommend the Medical Medium- look him up).
If you’d like to take a crack at journaling, I have posed the following four questions to help you dig into areas of your life that you’d like to find more healing. And if you’re not up for journaling yet, perhaps you talk these over with a friend or go on a walk and think about them. Whatever it is, I hope they help you along your way.
What would it look like for you to live a happy, healthy, and whole life?
What parts of that vision are missing from your life now?