Nestled among the magical redwoods, in the hushed stillness of a Mendocino farmhouse, serenaded by a chorus of frogs in the green pond that my room overlooked, I slept and dreamed.
A deep, healing sleep it was, not waking once for eleven hours, cocooned in a sense of being stitched back together at a cellular level, some sort of essential transformation going on, seemingly down to my DNA itself. When I finally woke in the soft morning light, it was like emerging from a long journey and discovering that I had finally come home to myself.
Last weekend, I went away north to the tall trees for a weekend of insight and healing, to reflect upon my path in the world and what I offer. In the end, what I realized is that the heart of my work, which I have long identified as being centered upon “nourishment”, is really about healing. This might seem obvious to some who know me, but oddly it wasn’t that clear to myself.
Ever since my days at the Boulder College of Massage Therapy some twenty-five years ago, I have been leery of the word “healer.” It always carried a slightly sticky, somewhat self-important note to it, and too often worn as a badge for the ego. When people said of themselves, “I’m a healer,” some part of me simply wanted to roll my eyes, for I’ve long understood that healing comes from somewhere beyond, and it is not something any of us can take credit for. In hands-on sessions and coaching, I have witnessed clients undergo remarkable transformations, but it was never me that healed them; it is some other grace for which I was simply a conduit.
Too many people call themselves healers who haven’t done their own work. They don’t live a healer’s lifestyle, and some of them are profoundly unhealthy. Whether with television, junk food, or any other modern addiction, they fill their bodies, minds, and energetic fields with garbage. It’s true that some of them do possess genuine gifts, but identifying as a “healer” bolsters an otherwise low self-esteem or self-importance, and makes them feel good about themselves. I challenge you: if your own life isn’t about the highest transformation and evolution possible, how can you possibly be a healer?
And so I’ve always steered clear of the term and title, choosing instead to simply focus upon offering nourishment for body and soul as my path, both public and private, whether that role was bodyworker, coach/guide, chef, or as a writer. Indeed, it is one of the central, recurring themes in this weekly column: what nourishes the bodysoul?
These past months have been a time of powerful transformation for me, triggered partly by my electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) [read “Pulling Weeds, Seeking Health”], forcing me to lay aside my work with others despite the financial anxiety and squeeze of that (which offered its own healing and lessons), while venturing further into realms of healing and earth connection. It has been an Underworld journey of sorts; a passage into shadows and vulnerability, and emerging on the other side, transformed and carrying a gift.
This past weekend’s retreat to the redwoods marked the culmination of that journey — at least to the extent that I am able to perceive it now — and brought me back to center; embracing my deeper work, understanding that is what my soul came back here to do in this lifetime. More than that, it means finally picking up the term and placing it across my chest: healer.
“A healer who writes,” is what I just yesterday updated my website biography to read.
It isn’t self-important, congratulatory, or a crutch for my ego, but simply the truth. Everything about my life is centered upon healing: from the quiet, healing rituals of a deliberately built existence free of television and media, to the fresh, organic food that I prepare with gratitude and share with others, giving up everything that doesn’t support that higher work or my highest well being (including sugar, caffeine, wheat, meat, and alcohol), and embracing a deep connection with nature and the soul of the world.
I will continue to write books but it feels like an important shift, this letting go of identifying as a “writer” (and all the baggage that goes with that) and coming home to the heart of healing.
In our own ways, each of us is looking for healing. We might call that a quest for meaning, or wholeness, or connection; it might be a spiritual path or searching for our place in the world. Yet all of these are simply other facets of healing and the process of finding our own light, along with the gift we have to offer.
Dozens of times in this journal I have written that Soul Artists are radically authentic people who continually seek to offer something of beauty and value to the world. Truly, the soul’s journey and the healing path are the same: emerging past what limits and restrains us, opening the heart wider, practicing forgiveness, and diving headlong into the darkest depths of ourselves.
As I sat in the old wooden chair near the pond’s edge, writing in my little journal with my trusty old fountain pen while listening to a raven laughing gutturally from a high redwood perch, I realized that much of healing is about the spirit of empowerment. It is the receipt and assumption of power, igniting a vital life energy within us, that bestows a tenacity and determination to succeed in becoming our most authentic, creative, and unlimited self. Exactly like soul work.
Friend, what is it in your life that needs healing? And what are you willing to give up or sacrifice in order to embrace that transformation? We are all learning how to transform and let go of our past. Remember that your very words have power, including the ways that you speak of and identify yourself and your being in the world.
Here’s hoping you’ll move toward healing as you face your inner and outer work, letting go of the past that keeps you tethered, coming home to a true sense of yourself. And may you embrace forgiveness, soul courage and grace in all that you do.