Since I stepped on to the Reiki path five years ago, my perceptions of health and healing have evolved greatly. For me, healing is a journey on which we remove the obstacles which imprison us, preventing us from experiencing our loving nature.
This perception of healing is explored in great depth in A Course In Miracles. To paraphrase part of the text, if our painful emotional wounds are not healed then we cannot love ourselves and cannot love another. If we map this idea on to the questions of maintaining good health, I believe that healing our emotional wounds is key to maintaining physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being.
Our bodies can self-heal. When I first heard this, it was as if I had glimpsed a truth I had known once but had long since forgotten. People are generally not brought up inside this notion and do not have the vocabulary to be able to speak about self-healing and our inner wisdom related to keeping ourselves healthy. Instead, we become accustomed to placing our trust in a doctor who tells us to pop pills that can actually replace one set of symptoms with another, thanks to side effects.
Eastern truths about holistic health are far removed from our Western conditioning that individuals do not possess inner knowing which can impact their own health. Let’s take smoking as an example. In waiting rooms all over the country we see posters emblazoned with Quit Smoking. Needless for me to say that quitting smoking is an excellent idea for anybody because breathing in those chemicals is really disgusting, so I am not undermining that message to quit. However for an addictive behavior like smoking to be phased out, it is the thought patterns and relationship with oneself that needs healing so that the person bravely choosing to quit, stands a good chance of staying cigarette-free.
What kind of relationship must one have with oneself that it is okay to suck on several carcinogenic toxins several times a day? I was smoking at a time in my life when I really didn’t like myself very much. In truth my relationship with myself was a hate/hate one and not even love/hate! I didn’t really care much for being alive but did what I could to cling on and sought out many distractions from my inner pain (drugs, sex and booze).
When I began the long road of healing my life, some of the outer behaviors began to fall away because I started to like myself more. Inhaling nasty cigarette fumes didn’t seem to appeal so much anymore. To return to the Quit Smoking poster, I look forward to the day when we might see posters in NHS waiting rooms that say, “Learn To Like Who You Are (it’s likely you will give up some of your unhealthy habits too).”
Western approaches to heath and healing were contrasted with Eastern holistic approaches on the Reiki retreat I attended last month. My teacher explained that in the West we are conditioned to think that a physical illness only has a physical cause, and the symptoms are treated accordingly, often with prescribed chemicals or surgery or a small nod toward holistic advice to stop doing something (like smoking) and start doing something (like exercise). The emphasis in Western medicine is on symptoms. Treat the symptoms and the illness goes away, and the person is healed right? Maybe not.
In the UK we do not often hear National Health Service (NHS) doctors talking about the original root cause of an ailment, the wounded part of our emotional body which has been ignored or left unhealed, so much so that a physical illness eventually develops on top of it. In Eastern approaches to healing, this root cause is the grass-root level which underpins our state of wholeness. Said another way, addressing the emotional wound or root cause can return us home to wholeness by healing emotional pain, making it unlikely for a physical illness to manifest as the original wound is being addressed. Reiki practitioners will know the term byosen which, roughly translated, means: what was here before the illness came. So we can see that the Reiki healing system actually has a word which hints to the premise that a root emotional cause, left unhealed, can manifest a physical ailment.
What is the most pertinent emotional pain or stressor for us humans? Fear—otherwise known as the disconnection between our physical selves and the Divine natures of our souls. We have turned our back on the loving nature within and the universe, our body feels this; in time, it manifests dis-ease. We can read more about this disconnection in Marianne Williamson’s text, A Return To Love.
When our bodies develop symptoms we may decide to visit our GP, although a number of people do not because of the fear of bad news. These symptoms may go away for a time when they are hit with chemicals and surgery, but what if that root cause emotional wound is left unhealed? One will continue to become unwell from time to time or deteriorate completely. The emotional pain at the root of a physical set of symptoms hangs around if a holistic approach to health is not undertaken. To experience healing or a return to our wholeness and love, we must view our life as having four planes of existence that require our attention: the physical plane, emotional plane, mental plane and spiritual plane. The loving energy of Reiki is applicable to each of them.
I believe that we are heading towards a time which will see the ancient Eastern healing modalities and philosophies married into a union with the skill of Western medicine. In the meantime we can all take responsibility for our health on the emotional, mental and spiritual planes and connect to the love that is present within us, so that our physical bodies stand a greater chance of health and remain free of dis-ease.