Healing & Well-Being
Hayley Cagan Kamis, MA
What is "Healing"?
Most of us think of 'healing' in terms of curing an illness, surgical repair of an injury, the easing of worries, resolution regarding traumatic pasts, and even finding a more peaceful (or less hurtful) relationship with loss. However, healing doesn't necessarily mean that our challenges disappear completely or that we return to our previous state of being. If anything, it implies much, much more.
The word "to heal" comes from the old English term "hele" (sounds a little bit like "Hayley", don't you think?) which means "to make whole". Sometimes we experience physical, emotional and even experiential changes that can be "repaired": the challenge is resolved, or perhaps the process is made functional, "reconditioned" or "recalibrated", so to speak. Does that make us less "whole" than when we started? Sometimes it feels that way - been there, done that, got a hospital gown. But what I've learned as the professional next to the bed and the patient IN the bed, is that allowing oneself to grieve that which is changed or lost, acknowledging a "revised" sense of self, and transitioning to a place of peace and acceptance makes all the difference in whole-person healing.
But I'm not the only person seeking a unified definition of healing. A social scientist by the name of Thomas Egnew (2005)* studied how professional care providers define the term "healing." Caregivers in this study treated clients from different age groups, genders, and cultural backgrounds. Dr. Egnew found a common thread in all the participants' responses:
"Healing can be defined as the transcendence of suffering."
(*If you'd like to learn more about Egnew's study, feel free to click on his name and the magic of the interweb will take you there)
But how in the heck can we "prove" that healing has occurred? That, my friends is a bit more subjective, as well as dependent on one's definition of "suffering".
As a healthcare practitioner, I've become accustomed to the mantra, "data, data, data". In other words, it's important to read, understand, evaluate and incorporate objectively-based, scientifically sound research in one's area of expertise as a service provider. I feel a VERY strong obligation to my clients to be well-informed, ethical, caring and professional; to clearly communicate my scope of practice; and to appropriately set and support reasonable goals and expectations.
On the other hand, there's the issue that Healing Arts approaches are inherently intuitive in nature. At some point in our training, we practitioners find our groove, balancing technical skill with instinctive practice, riding a wave that flows in the physical and metaphysical, objective and subjective, concrete and abstract, left brain and right brain. As such, we learn to let go of any personal expectations and to just be present to the healing process without pre-defining what that might look like.
Measurable, physical outcomes are often required in Western (Allopathic) medicine, as we are quite bottom-line oriented: you're either cured or you're not. And of course this is vital. But healing in and through a challenge can be achieved without a curative outcome.
Confusing, don't you think?
I'll tell you what I think. I've worked in the Healing Arts for over 17 years, providing services for clients from Labor & Delivery to End-of-Life care, in hospitals, homes and continuous care environments; within a variety of healing and wellness environments (over 30 years in healthcare); and as a member of community and corporate programs. I continuously study the data, additional data, and even more data, and try not to miss an opportunity for continued education and training. I understand, from the inside-out, the necessity and effectiveness of whole-person healing, in every stage of life. lf you choose to read on, I assure you will learn a great deal about why an expanded definition of healing and the efforts to achieve it are well worth the time and dedication.
How do I do this?
My father would likely answer this question, "verrrrrrrry carefully."
The first step is simple: I listen. Every individual with whom I meet has
their own unique perspectives, needs, beliefs and ideas regarding their
place at any given stage of life. Sometimes we know what we need, want, believe; sometimes we feel lost and adrift, and other times we surprise ourselves. My job is to meet you exactly where you are, pay attention to what is important to you, and ask clarifying questions. I can provide assistance in planning and preparing for your needs at any point in your journey, offer resources and referrals, and create a safe space in which you can identify your goals, exercise self-determination in your stage-of-life journey, or engage in healing practices (e.g., integrative energy approaches; mind-body techniques; self-directed relaxation and stress management). With the goal of "healing" being "the transcendence of suffering", the end-game is always to actually be more than your suffering.
For example, as a Healing Arts practitioner, I use various Energy Healing Modalities to tune-in to what your own energy is expressing (in terms of mind-body-spirit and emotional state). Once we've attuned to each other, and continuously check in to assure we're "on the same wavelength", so to speak, I follow your lead, listening in a different sort of manner. Your body's own healing wisdom knows where to send this energy and what to do with it (as does the energy itself). If you're familiar with Quantum Physics (or just physics-physics), you already know that all matter is made of energy, and that every field of energy interacts with the energy around it. When we talk about one person's energy interacting with another's, we are describing Human Energy Field (HEF) or Biofield Theory. The goal in Energy work as a healing modality is to clear any "stuck" spots, re-establish equilibrium in your system, and re-set your "norm", so to speak. The result: your mind-body-spirit remembers what it feels like to be still, calm and in balance. Not only does this offer relief from uncomfortable situations, but it provides you with some tools to help rewire your system to a new baseline of homeostasis, one in which you feel balanced and clear and can assess and respond to life events from a grounded perspective.
My work includes both providing Energy work and teaching clients self-directed methods so that YOU can guide your own well-being, whether this includes receiving energy healing services, independently engaging with energy work, or utilizing any of a number of mindful approaches...and likely all of the above. The goal is to empower you to connect, refine and use your access to balancing mind-body-spirit in order to experience greater ease in navigating difficult situations, sensations and interactions.
The most important aspect of improving dis-harmony in your life? Choosing to engage in your own healing...in other words, actively becoming more than your suffering. And that is no easy feat, my friends, but one well worth the effort.
"All medicine is energy medicine."
- Dr. James Oschman (2002)
How do YOU do this?
One of the most daunting aspects of well-being can be just making the choice to participate in your own healing. It may be tempting to hand over that responsibility to others whom we believe to be "more competent" or who offer a "quick fix" while we come along for the ride. Sometimes that's all we need at the moment, and that's A-okay. All of life's changes - positive, negative and otherwise - can be scary, even more so if we believe we are unable or unqualified to help ourselves. Most of us need guidance, direction or any of many forms of assistance in getting started, and that's a good thing - we don't have to go it alone. On the other hand, as my very skilled, talented and wise friend and instructor, Kathie Lipinski, RN* says regarding the greatest misperceptions about Reiki (one form of energy work, but it applies to all) is that "A Reiki practitioner will 'fix' me" (2004). The responsibility for healing requires one's acceptance and commitment to make choices and consider different perspectives in order to truly heal and make lasting change.
Receiving energetic intervention from a Practitioner is only part of the equation. Seeking education, feedback, guidance, and participating in decision-making is key to empowering you, at any point along the life continuum, to reap the most gentle, meaningful outcomes of your choice. You, my friends, are quite capable of taking the lead and using various Integrative tools to use on-demand, in the heat of the moment, when life feels a little extra. That means that you will also learn methods to ease through tough times as they pop up, and in my experience, they POP.
*You can click on Kathie's name above if you'd like to check out her website...it's pretty cool, as is she.
What about Modern Medicine?
If you read nothing else on this page, PLEASE READ THIS:
Integrative approaches to healing and well-being are just that: INTEGRATIVE. In other words, these modalities, when included as an adjunct for a variety of conditions and situations, allow for whole-self healing. They are never intended as a substitute for medical intervention, physician assessment, or healthcare provision from a licensed professional in a clinical setting, home care, palliative care or hospice.
That said, many studies have shown that incorporating Integrative approaches into one's efforts is useful in reducing pain perception, improving sleep, managing appetite, minimizing stress, lessening fear, and creating an interpersonal experience of support - thus mollifying the inaccurate belief that you're "in this alone". Integrative methods support clients to engage in healing at a time when everything feels topsy-turvy, which creates an atmosphere of empowerment. Too often we feel out-of-control in response to unexpected changes in our lives, our bodies, our relationships, and our plans gone awry. The truth is, we are all born with the ability to balance our mind-body-spirit connection, so that we may use our inherent skills to navigate the tough times with greater ease and less suffering. And there's no reason to go it alone: just because you CAN navigate your path does not mean you must do it all by yourself.
Here's What's What:
Integrative Methods (IM) of healing and well-being, sometimes called Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), have a solid presence in the wellness community, including the health sciences.
More than 60 hospitals throughout the United States offer Integrative Services to their patients, and over 800 U.S. Hospitals offer Reiki training. In Canada, Complementary and Alternative therapies are used by nearly 70% of the populace for wellness and as a complement to their medical care.
And that's just in North America - don't even get me started about the whole world.
The National Council on Complementary and Integrative Medicine (NCCIM) is the division of NIH (National Institutes of Health) dedicated to the study of IM. They state their mission as follows:
“To explore complementary and alternative practices in the context of rigorous science, train
CAM and IM researchers, and to disseminate authoritative information to the public and
Providing quality services supported by research and data are ethically tantamount to HANDS FULL OF HEART. If you would like references regarding the science behind these methods, I am most happy to share and direct you to additional resources.
Information is knowledge.
Are you skeptical?
Heck, yeah, you should be!
it is absolutely your right to ask questions, seek answers, and pursue intervention that is safe, beneficial and within your means. I invite you to follow your curiosity, inquire about any and all aspects of the Healing Arts, and get just the facts, ma'am (and man and non-binary). If anyone tells you otherwise, please run. Fast.