The long awaited post about healing. This is a gentle PSA reminding you that if you are truly struggling through trauma, I want you to seek professional advice. No amount of spiritual practice, “love and light”, religion etc can help you in the way that a person trained to navigate these emotions and traumas. Be brave and seek help where you need it.
I wish I had a simple to follow, instructional list of things to look for when you know that you’re healing. The truth of the matter is that healing looks differently for everyone. I don’t want to discourage you from seeking it, but healing hurts. In yoga, we talk about “good” pain VS “bad” pain. Good pain is when the stretch is deep, but bearable, right on the edge of actual pain. This sort of action strengthens, lengthens, and loosens the muscles. It offers support to joints and key muscles that help you get stronger and healthier. Bad pain is sharp and causes injury. It over extends the muscles, forcing joints into unnatural places, and in the long run could really damage your progress. Each time you enter a pose, you go to the very edge of the pain before backing off just slightly, sitting with that deep stretch so that the next time you go into the pose, you can go a little deeper.
Thinking about it in another way, lets turn to surgery. Why do you get surgery? You get surgery in order to fix a problem or to remove or replace something that is no longer functional. There is, often times, a lot of prep that goes into surgery both for the doctor and the patient. Sometimes diets need changing, fasts must be practiced, certain medicines have to be taken or avoided, and a whole slew of safe practices done by the doctor to prevent infection or harm to come to their patient. But what about post-surgery? Are you good to go? Can you return to life as normal? The answer is sometimes, it depends on the surgery. More often than not, you are given a laundry list of things that need to be watched, taken, avoided, or practiced in order to aid yourself in the healing process. And it’s physically painful. Right?
As wounds close, or adjustments mend, you are given pain meds specifically to help you avoid the brunt of the pain experienced through healing. Often you are very sore, with sharp pains around where the surgery took place. As the wound seals, scar tissue will replace what was removed or cut into. That scar tissue, depending on how deep the wound was, can still be painful after you have healed. The same is true for psychological, energetic, or spiritual healing. Some wounds leave marks that cannot be forgotten, but they can be supported through proper healing and management.
In Buddhist philosophy, they speak about “tending your own garden”. If you are an avid gardener, this will probably make a lot of sense to you. Gardening is hard work. You have to know what plants like to be in full sun and which that don’t. Every spring you might have to add a new layer of dirt to the soil for nutrients or add fertilizer to the ground for healthy plants. You most certainly will have to pull weeds if you choose a more natural route (which I highly recommend!). Some plants grow better paired with others while some grow worse. At times a garden will require to be pruned back, damaged or diseased parts removed to ensure the longevity of the life of the plant.
If we pay attention and offer awareness to our gardens, and tend to them well, the work becomes easier over time. We find that there is less and less to do as the seasons progress and with a few minor tweaks, our gardens can be lush and full in no time.
But Storm, how does this translate to healing? What on EARTH are you talking about? I will tell you. As we begin to focus on our internal lives, we being to notice areas that require attention. Maybe we pass snap judgements on others (or ourselves *cough cough*) without taking into consideration these are people living human lives, which are messy and sometimes (often times) very challenging. So, we observe these actions and begin to “weed out” and “cultivate” new thought patterns, making sure to adjust those snap judgements to something more supportive and healthy. At first, it’s difficult, right? But eventually, over time and by carefully paying attention, we can see something new bloom from the seeds we have planted within us. Instead of saying “wow that person is dirty” you now say “I wonder if they have a place to sleep tonight”.
Maybe the thought pattern is against yourself (imposter syndrome is a bitch, btw). You begin to notice all those little self-depreciating jokes you’ve been saying actually have a negative effect on your mental health, so you start to weed them out and say things like “Actually, I’m pretty freaking great, thank you very much.” And you start to see and feel an odd change within yourself. At times it’s painful trying to stop yourself from saying those things when it’s been a habit built steadily over time, but you find a new rhythm, a new pattern of thought.
Those examples are very mild and easy (ish) to renavigate, or realign with a better process. Now I want to talk about the times when you hit a wall, when the healing comes from sitting in the back of your closet, ugly crying because you can’t take it anymore. When you find yourself out in the middle of a field on a full moon screaming up at the sky, tears rolling down your cheeks, begging for an answer, only to receive silence, that is healing. Or at least the very beginning of healing. When you find yourself in your own garden, tearing out the plants in anger (past trauma, learned behavior, having to reparent yourself) that is all healing. Aggressive healing, but healing none the less. You’ve reached a point where you can’t do it anymore. You have officially decided to rage quit. That is healing.
I cannot express how much aesthetic and salt baths alone are not all that you need in order to achieve healing. While helpful, they are Band-Aids to a much larger problem. Digging through the muck and sludge of what has been built within you because of society, toxic communities, friends, family whomever, that’s healing. Figuring out who you are, asking yourself “What do I want from life that doesn’t involve meeting someone’s expectations of myself?” That’s healing. Telling that one friend, lover, sibling, parent, teacher, boss (not highly recommended unless you have a safety net!), to go fuck themselves, even if it has to tear itself up your throat and burn your tongue, that’s healing. Burning bridges using napalm, that’s healing. Setting up a mine field outside of your castle walls, that’s healing.
What I’m trying to say, is that there is a major difference between healing and healed. Healing is messy, chaotic, confusing, painful, scary as shit, and absolutely thrilling. Healed is when you can sit comfortably within whatever it was that needed healing and say “I’m better.”
Healing may not always look like what you expected it to. Letting go of what you have been told is healing, is actually healing. Allowing the process of going through and actively changing aspects of yourself or accepting others to take control of the healing is an interesting journey. Surrendering to myself, trusting that what I pursue and cultivate within myself is good for me, (and not getting upset or angry when I’m wrong) is healing.
If you need to run wild through a forest, screaming at the top of your lungs to heal, go for it. If you need to quietly say “I’m done”, that’s also acceptable. Find what works for you to manage the pain. Acceptance, surrender, letting go, breathing, singing/chanting, praying, practicing magic, or a long list of cuss words are all viable tools to help aid you through the process of healing. The important part is that you don’t stop for too long. You can rest, you can take time off, but if that patch of your garden goes untended for too long, those weeds will creep back in and you will have to start over.
Another thing to keep in mind, when someone is healing from surgery, loved ones bring nice things to their room to “brighten their day”. Do not avoid this step for yourself. Bring yourself flowers or a warm cup of hot chocolate to brighten the darkness of healing. And remember, it’s worth it. You cannot feed a village if your fields are fallow.
Breathe, my darling practitioners. We need healed healers amongst us, keep going.