Heal and Tow
Two steps to healing
Whenever we heal, there are at least two steps.
First, the root problem must be healed. In physical illness, this might mean setting a broken bone and giving it time to grow back together. Then, after that, we must work through recovery and regaining our normal abilities. In the case of a broken bone, that would mean physical therapy, and maybe occupational therapy.
The same is true whenever we heal, whether the the healing is emotional, or mental, or energetic.
Energy work, prayer, and meditation
Suppose, for example, we bring some chronic issue to prayer, or to a healing meditation, or to a Reiki practitioner or some other form of energetic healing. In step one, we bring the root issue into clarity, and offer it up for healing. "Offer it up" implies sacred work, and, indeed, all healing is sacred.
Done well, such healing work causes a fundamental shift into a new way of being. But, just as setting a broken bone is not complete healing, so this energetic healing is not the complete story.
To remind myself of this, I make a pun - "heal and tow," which sounds like "heel and toe" the back and front of the foot. First we heal, and then we start towing!
First we heal, then we tow
When we have done the prayer, meditation, or energetic work (in one session, or many), we have given ourselves the opportunity to live and work from a new, healed, more empowered place.
But we can easily go back to the old behaviors and re-create the problem. So, we must tow ourselves to the new place. This is the difficult work of habit change.
This is obvious in the case of addiction. The healing begins when we see the suffering we are giving ourselves and others through our addiction, and see that the solution includes leaving the addiction behind. But healing is only complete when we are firmly grounded in the new healthy habits, and have left the old habits far behind.
But this is not only true in cases of addiction. It is true in everything. Heal a bad back, and we still need to change habits around stress and posture. Heal after a car accident, and we may need to change the way we drive to prevent future accidents.
So, the long slow work of "towing" ourselves into the new habit begins. Each moment we do the new habit, and not the old one, is a success. And victory is built on these small successes, just as a journey is made of a thousand steps.
Layers of healing
Sometimes, a single healing and towing is not enough. Sometimes, we do a healing, and we find we can't even start towing. This is difficult to bear, and daunting. When we try to heal and then fall back, it is easy to want to give up. So it is important to see the solution. The solution is to understand that a single illness can be composed of many elements that need to be healed. it is like making a bed in the winter - if the bed is piled with blankets, we need to take off each blanket, shake it out, fold it, get down to the sheets, strip them off and wash them, and then, when everything is clean, put the whole bed back together.
A close friend is healing her lifelong habit of procrastination around writing and creative work. She is successful already, in spite of the procrastination. But she wants to take it further. She wants to be able to write and publish a novel while also working as a college professor.
A week ago, she healed one level. She stopped denying she wanted to write the novel, and released a lot of self-shaming thoughts about being a writer. And she wrote for one weekend. Then, this weekend, she almost hid wanting to write again. But she saw, by Friday, that she wanted to spend the weekend writing. But then she got writer's block, and wasn't productive.
So she healed, and she towed, and she still wasn't writing regularly. What now?
She healed again. She found another level of shaming. This one prevented her from talking about the practical things she wanted to get done if she couldn't do them. And we created a ceremony to heal that shame.
We have a creative sense of humor around here. We took a crumpled kleenex wet with her tears, and she held it in front of her and put all her shame into it. Then we put oil on the tissue, put it in an ashtray on a stoneware plate, and burned it. That was the healing ceremony, the prayer, the energetic work. Her shame was given on the altar, and consumed and turned into light and love.
With the healing complete, she began towing. She made a shopping list. She set off to do a bit of work that needed to be done. She also needs to rest and recover, but she is on her way.
Late in life, Zen Master Hakuin said that he had spent his life walking back and forth, beating down the grass with his feet, to make a path others could follow. The path goes from where we are today to a way of living that is free of suffering. Meditation teacher Stephen Levine talks about how layers of grief pile up on top of our pain, and that peeling these layers is "the healing we were born for."
So, again, and again, let us heal and tow, heal and tow. Heel and toe, heel and toe, we dance our lives. As we dance, we are healed, and can dance the more. The more we dance our lives, the more we inspire others to dance with us.
Come, join the dance of healing, join the dance of life.