Saturday, January 26, 2008

Healing is Believing

I'm preparing to teach Reiki levels I and II in a couple of months, thinking about how I want to describe it. Since Reiki is energy-based work, there really is no lingo in American English that can do it justice, but I have to say more than "Try it, you'll like it."

One of the major components of the work is prayer, that is, asking for divine wisdom and divine guidance during the sessions. Even the word "prayer" is scary to many folks, maybe because they associate it with something awful they were forced to do when they were children, or because it conjures up evangelical Christianity in their minds. For many folks, the word is offensive because they don't believe in it.

But all healing is faith based, always has been since healing was "invented" by our ancient ancestors who are now called "shamans" no matter where they lived or how they practiced or what they believed would work. It was about faith then, and it's about faith now. Oh yes it is!

Those who subscribe to western medicine believe in blood tests and MRIs, etc., procedures that are - for the most part - just another form of divination. Western medicine is an analytical belief system based on statistics, mostly. There can be love in western medicine, but it's not the basis of the work. If you believe in statistics, western medicine is probably your healing faith.

The Sufi acupuncturist tells me how funny it is when he meets someone who doesn't believe in Chinese medicine. The conversation goes like this:

Disbeliever: What do you do for a living?
Sufi Acupuncturist: I'm an acupuncturist and herbalist.
Disbeliever: Oh really? I don't believe in that. (or alternately, "Does that work?")

It is funny to realize that the disbeliever is so entrenched in his/her own system of faith, that she/he can't keep from being completely RUDE. Oh well.

Of course there are also people like me who "don't believe" in western medicine. Let me qualify that - for emergency procedures, western medicine is great. If I broke my arm, for instance, I would not make an appointment to see the Sufi acupuncturist. But for most of what ails me, low-level chronic conditions, I don't BELIEVE western medicine has much to offer except a lifetime of expensive prescription drugs and their "side" effects, along with a battery of expensive, not to mention very uncomfortable, tests of every kind imaginable. In my heart of hearts, I don't believe this form of medicine is, in any way, healing.

The editors of the Washington Post Sunday magazine this week are dancing in shamanic alignment with my train of thought. The cover story is about a quadriplegic who cured himself. I haven't read the article yet so I don't know how he did it, but the title of the article is "Walking Miracle." See? The language of faith is always a part of the story of medicine. The cover pic is of the guy hiking in the mountains above the Gobi Desert. Clearly this is a case of someone with faith in his ability to heal himself, in spite of what he was supposed to believe, that his condition was not curable.

The mind is so powerful, especially accompanied by faith in something, anything. Illness and injury challenge us to contemplate what we believe. Pain scares us into dealing with faith on some level or another. I guess in that way, the ills of the body are a blessing, but God, wouldn't it be nice if we could learn these lessons without all the pain and fear? Wouldn't it?


kimy said...

great post.

jake in shaman pose....quite excellent!

Gary said...


That last bit mirrors my thoughts exactly - wouldn't it be nice to grow without all of the pain and fear. This post is especially meaningful to me for both that message, the message of self healing and the power of Reiki. As you know I completed Reiki level 1 and would love to move to level 2 so please keep me posted on your class. Who knows, perhaps I will swing by. Anyway, thanks again. This post was just what I needed at this moment.

Reya Mellicker said...

Kim - wow, what an eye! I've been poring over Edward Curtis's photos of Indians, including of course the healers. Wow, yes, Jake as shaman.

Gary, my teachers believed that pain, injury and illness are one way that we work through karma. Apparently, the density of the physical body makes it possible to clear lots of old energetic knots, freeing us up for a more participatory kind of destiny.

I like that theory, though not sure I believe that's the whole story. Illness/pain/injury is complicated, involving spiritual and emotional concerns, but also accident, genetics, luck, timing - and a bunch of other things I'll never understand in this form!

Illness can be transformative. Rather than trying to figure out why it happens, why not try to understand the message it brings, to learn from it? Well, why not?

d. chedwick bryant said...

The whole prayer aspect, well, I have had practitioners say something like, go to the center of yourself, or find that place where you feel your spirit dwells, and ask yourself for...(Guidance, support) whatever prayer gives -- words...we still don't have the words some people need.

I agree that illness is transformative. I have seen major illnesses transform people and get them in touch with their core self.

Anonymous said...



Barbara said...

Natural healing is always preferable, at least for me, to taking pills and shots and using artificial Band-aids. I sometimes wonder if it won't be the overuse of antibiotics that ultimately does us in as we become immune to dangerous infection. History is certainly on the side of Eastern medicine, considering it has been used for millenia whereas Western medicine is still coming out of the laboratory. I agree there is a place for both, but always hope for a gentler path to healing when I am in need of it.

Absolute Vanilla (& Atyllah) said...

Amen to that post, Reya. You could have been reading my mind when you wrote it.

I was thinking about this term, "I don't believe in X", this morning - in response to someone saying, "I don't believe in Astrology". What's to believe or not believe in, I ask myself. We don't say, "I don't believe in Geography" do we.
Language so often helps to keep us separate from each other.

wordwitch said...

I completely believe in the power of the mind/spirit...I know of two people who were told by doctors "oh, you'll never..." and they both did. One walked again after having his legs shattered, and another regained full vision in an eye that had been deflated (sorry, kinda a "raw" image there)...Doc's are good to consult up to a point, but when they start placing artificial limits on your future, that's when your mind/spirit needs to be trusted and empowered.


Reya Mellicker said...

Doctors are trained to respond to all questions as if they know the answer. It's a shame really because no one knows how or when a person will die or if they'll recover from illness.

When people say "I don't believe in X" what that usually means is they don't know anything about X but have dismissed it anyway.

Steve said...

I think people say they "don't believe in" x because they have a sort of instinctive fear that it will challenge their beliefs and/or values. They usually don't know much about it -- as you said, Reya -- and it's a sort of automatic defense mechanism. I've never tried a lot of Eastern medicine, like acupuncture et al, but I absolutely believe in it.

d. chedwick bryant said...

This happens to all of us, no matter what our occupation. I get it all the time for being in advertising for 20 years. But I love advertising.

Old Hippie: What do you do for a living?
Creative Director: I'm in advertising, I create package design and print ads.
Old Hippie : Oh really? I dismiss all that, (or) it is almost meaningless to me (or "How can you do that work?") 

Oh well.... I can't stop loving what I do, it has taken me to dozens of foreign countries and once I had to attend the Cannes Film Festival and work in Paris for a few months. Not a hardship at all.

Lawyers get a lot of criticism, too!

Rose said...

Most of the time, when people tell me that they do not beLIEve in something I find that they are into their fear and usually are ignorant to what the something is really all about. JMHO.