Holistic Healing

The spiritual & holistic meaning of healing

In Native teachings, the larger meaning of healing is to become more Whole, or more at one with the greater Wholeness of Life. This then means that all people really need healing, in some way, because all people are on a path towards wholness. So, the topic of healing and the work of healing is not just for those who have a physical sickness or a problem to heal at this time. In other words, all of us need continuous healing, in the larger sense of what healing means. This is because we need to continuously return to balance with the Earth and all life around us. In Native teachings, balance is the larger goal of healing, or to be in harmony.

Life and circumstances are continuously shifting the equilibrium balance that we may have at the time, so we all need continuous readjustment and rebalance. As well, we all need to maintain a good vitality and will need to continually recharge ourselves. On the other hand as well, we all seem to get stuck at times in old patterns or repeating energies that are no longer useful to work through, so there is always stuff to let go of and be cleansed away.

Therefore, healing is not just about the physical body. We of course want a healthy, purified and balanced harmonious physical body. We need this. But we also need a healthy, clear, and harmonious emotional body. Our emotional body is the sum of our emotions, which is also our emotional energy field or emotional aura. It's our emotions, and how we feel about our self, others and the world. And as we all know, our emotional energies can get disturbed and out of balance sometimes. And we sometimes accumulate emotional stuff that is not so useful or healthy. Sometimes we get these energies from others, and sometimes we create them ourselves by what we hold on to and react to. So the emotional body is very often in need of healing, and the first step in this healing is most definitely clearing.

As well, we often need healing and balance in our mental body, which is the sum of our mental energies of thought, ideas, and beliefs. And as we all know, the mind can get pretty scattered, fragmented, and even confused at times. Sometimes even, the mind seems to have way too much stuff going on, and too many thoughts seem to bounce into and off one another, like a crowded party going on in our own head. So we need mental healing, and the best start to this is clearing the mind, clearing the thoughts. But most people don't have a clue how to do this. They think there is nothing possible to do about it, because it's just the way they are. But it is very possible to clear the thoughts and have a clear mind. It's a beautiful experience to have a clear, calm and peaceful mind. Just as it is beautiful to experience peaceful and harmonious feelings.

Thus, having a healthy and well functioning physical body is itself vitally important and necessary, but a wholistic healing is more than just physical healing. Also remember that the physical, emotional, and mental energies interrelate and effect one another. They are interrelated and interdependent. So if one is not clear and harmonious, then this will effect the other two. Each effects the others. So healing has to involve the whole deal, our whole functioning self.

The whole person

For the Earth People healing and health involves the whole life of a person, rather than just the physical body. Healing and health involves the physical, the emotional, and the mental aspects of a person, as well as their spiritual direction in life. These are the four basic aspects or sides of a person, and each aspect has its particular kinds of needs and its ideal of health and fulfillment.

Each aspect or side of the person can be healthy, more or less, and the degree of health in any one of the aspects will effect the health of all the other aspects. So the person can be understood as four-sided, or composed of four basic aspects, and each of these affects the others. Therefore, complete health and healing involves each and all of these aspects, since they are inter-related and inter-dependent.

The physical body effects the emotional life, and the emotional patterns effect the physical. The way one thinks, or how one thinks of oneself and the world, can effect the emotional life and the physical as well. And without spiritual direction and inspiration, or without creative inspiration, the mental life seems a bit lost and confused and the emotional life feels out of touch and insecure. And if the emotional life is upset or in turmoil or dominating, then the person cannot think straight or is unable to meditate and unable to find their spiritual direction in life. If the physical is weak or sick, then the emotional life suffers as well, and one’s thought and creativity is effectually weakened. Examples of this interrelatedness are endless, the point being that every person is multi-sided, comprised of the four aspects, so that true health must involve all these aspects, and the health of any one aspect depends on the relative health of all the other aspects.

Yet complete health is not a static state, nor is it simply a matter of good food and exercise. The physical has its own needs and the emotional its own needs. The emotional life needs the feeling of peace, security, love, friendship, as well as challenge and excitement. The emotional needs are pluralistic and often interwoven with the physical, mental, and spiritual needs. Let the emotions tell of its own particular needs. Listen to your emotions and your feelings, to hear what is being asked and needed. The mental life is seeking understanding, about oneself and others and the world in general, and it is seeking coherency and logic in the order and events of the world. Sometimes the mind is troubled, because it cannot seem to make sense of things, or it is trying to solve some problem, so the troubled mind is the mind seeking its own health and harmony of being.

The mind will also be seeking spiritual direction in life, or spiritual purpose, or some creative aim which feels meaningful and significant. The illumination and unfoldment of this spiritual or creative purpose becomes a great healing for the mental and emotional life, because this gives purpose to one’s life, a purpose and direction which relates one with a greater view of life. This helps one realize their spiritual relatedness to other lives of creation, and how one fits into the greater picture or circle of life. This spiritual awakening, or inspiration, may emerge gradually, and it will gradually harmonize and give direction to the other aspects of the person.

So true, complete healing can be thought of as a gradual life-process, as the emotional life is gradually fulfilled, as the mind gradually comprehends more of the greater picture of life, and as the spiritual and creative purpose is gradually awakened and gradually fulfilled. Therefore we can see the whole life of the person, in each and all their aspects, gradually coming to fulfillment, as the various aspects are harmonized and integrated and interwoven into one complete health.

So healing, in its greater meaning, is continuous, as long as the spiritual purpose, the understanding, and the relational love continues to grow and unfold. Health is understood as a relative balance in the person or in the body, while healing is really continuous as the person achieves ever-greater self-integration, harmony, beauty, and understanding, within oneself and also with the social and physical environment around them.

Balance and related integration are central to the ideal of health, and to become more balanced and integrated, in all our aspects, is true healing. And this balance and integration is not just about oneself, but also involves our relationship with others and the environment. Our life, our emotions and understanding and creativity necessarily exist within the context of our world or the environment. So health and healing of the whole person, or even of just the body, cannot be separated from the health and healing of the environment and the other lives of our world.

Wholeness with our natural world

Each of us exist in relation with a greater field of life and in relation to the various energies of the world around us. The idea of a separate self is an illusion or false concept of the mind. So each must find integration and balance in oneself, and this self-integration must find its integration with the energies and lives of the world. Being in balance, or in health, then must involve a harmonious balance and integration with one’s social community and with the natural environment.

This harmonious and balanced relationship between the person and the environment is an emotional, ethical, and creative relationship, as well as physical. It involves a responsibility in relation to the environment, or an ability to respond cooperatively to the needs of the environment, respecting and responding to the needs of the environment as well as to one’s own needs. In fact, the self-needs and the environmental-needs, and also the community-needs, must be seen as relating and working together. The needs of the whole must all be fulfilled together, and then each life within the whole is benefited. Separation is ill-health, while integration is health.

The Native View recognizes this relationship between each life and its environment, or between oneself and the world. And this relationship is not merely physical, in the sense that each life depends on resources and food from its environment, but also is spiritual, in the sense that the various lives and forms of the environment are meaningful to one’s own self-understanding and to one’s emotional feeling of unity and harmony with the world.

The Native View recognizes the whole world as one’s Greater Self, including all natural forms. So all of life is seen as a reflection of one’s whole self, and our personal self is seen as reflecting the forms and qualities of the world. The great Unity of Life is acknowledged, and the native person seeks to cooperate and harmonize with this greater unity of life. At the same time the person seeks to creatively express beauty and nurture beauty and harmony in life – to nurture and express the wholeness, the harmony and the beauty, through the physical, the emotions, the mind, and the creative will. This is the ideal of complete health and balance.

Thus health is not static, because it involves an ongoing process of harmonization, within oneself and with the environment, and an ongoing feeling of emotional connectiveness, and an ongoing unfoldment of creativity towards enhancing the beauty and harmony of life. One respects the unique beauty and expressive qualities of each life within the Whole, and allows that beauty to unfold and be-as-it-is, and one also respects and allows the expressive and creative qualities of oneself to unfold.

The natural lives around us express unique creative beauty, and so can each of us, if we respect and allow our creative and expressive potentials to unfold. And just as each natural life seeks to empower and enhance its own survival and creative expression, but also serves the well-being and nurturance of other lives within its ecology, so too can we, as human beings.

Healing our separation with nature

Our human creativity and expressive will does need to be in conflict with the sustaining and nurturing of the greater ecology in which we live. If it does, then this creativity is coming from a short-sighted and emotionally selfish perspective. It is ultimately coming from a misunderstanding of life as it really is. It is coming from the illusion of separation and the misguided thought that one can be fulfilled without respect to the greater whole of which any life is just a part.

Selfishness, or creativity without regard to others and the environment, is ultimately stupidity, since it fails to see the interrelatedness of life and how one’s self-fulfillment is interdependent with the needs of the greater environment, both physical and social. But because humans have been given a greater power of freedom and a greater potential for diversity of self-expression, we unfortunately have the potential to act stupidly and harmfully, with disregard to the greater whole in which we live, and so unnecessary pain and imbalances are caused in the world. So healing must also involve the relieving of pain and imbalances caused by selfishness and stupidity. This is re-establishing the harmony and balance which was upset and distorted by unenlightened activities of man and society.

The Native View recognizes an inherent intelligence of Nature, which is continually in process towards harmony, integration and balance, and this intelligence of Nature works within the human being as well. But the human mind and free will is capable of creating a separation within oneself and also with the environment, and thus the natural intelligence within is denied and suppressed, and the intelligence of Nature is denied and fought against, so that imbalances and disharmonies are then created within oneself and in the environment, all of which makes it ever-more difficult for Nature to heal itself since there is this continual struggle against that natural healing intelligence.

Because of this past and present struggle between the free-will and Nature, much of healing will involve a dis-arming of the fight against Nature and a re-establishing of respect and creative harmony with Nature. This is to do with the natural environment, as well as within oneself. So, on one hand, healing must deal with what’s gone wrong and out of balance, and seek to re-establish the lost harmony and unity. And on the other hand, healing involves nurturing and enhancing the harmony, health and beauty, which is still present in oneself and in the world.

Re-establishing our natural balance

The greater process of healing is this enhancement and unfoldment of self-wholeness, of balance, of enjoyment, of true understanding, and of one’s creative potentials for increasing beauty and fulfillment for all life. It is a continuous path towards a greater comprehension of all life, the diversity within the unity, a wonderful journey towards greater spiritual wholeness and connective relatedness to all lives, and a continuous unfoldment of the beauty of the nature within, the unfoldment of our own natural, spiritual self in relation with the spiritual Nature all around us.

The spiritual journey is the unfoldment of the Nature, or Spirit, within, as well as being of help and service to the spiritual lives around us. The unfoldment of our Nature, or Spirit, is the unfoldment of our natural, spiritual intelligence and love and creativity, all of which is inherent within us and ready to grow and expand, like the seed of a tree. Let your true nature grow and expand and be fulfilled. This is the great unfoldment and the greater healing.

Then, along the way we must also heal the temporary imbalances of the body, emotions and mind, and the suppression of the spiritual nature within us. This healing of the imbalances requires a balance of two basic forces or activities. On the one hand, the way to healing imbalances requires an attitude and energy of trust and letting nature heal itself. This applies to the healing of the environment, as well as to oneself or to another person. And on the other hand, the way to healing and re-establishing balance requires a decisive and intentional directing of energy, which may involve a clearing of old energies and patterns and may also involve a directed energizing and re-establishment of the natural flow. In other words, it may involve a removal or clearing of the pain or obstruction to the healing flow, like the clearing of trash or debris, and it may also involve a concentration of healing energy (vital and intelligent force) in areas of weakness, and this renewed healing energy may come from outside that particular energy field or it may come from retrieving and allowing forth the inherent energy which became lost or suppressed or blocked or merely forgotten.

Native Earth Healing

Nature is the real healer! Some Native teachers say that Mother Earth is the healer, while others say that Great Spirit is the true healer. But they all mean the same. Great Spirit is the absolute Source of all consciousness and all healing energies, but remember that Great Spirit pervades all of Mother Earth, through the land and through the air. So Great Spirit lives and works through Mother Earth, or we can understand that our Mother Earth is the creative womb for Spirit – the nurturing container and giver of the Great Life Spirit.

Healing comes from all aspects of Mother Earth. It comes from the land, the trees, the plants, the waters, the air, and can even come from animals. So when we walk, sit, or lay down in an untarnished natural area, we can receive healing from any or all parts of the immediate area we are presently in, as well as from the surrounding natural landscape. Consider that natural healing comes from the ground below us, from the air above us, and from the life that surrounds us. Feel the healing energies of Nature completely surround you and embrace you.

This itself is so simple, yet so profound an experience. Feel this healing from the earth, and breathe it in. Even, breathe in it and with it. Let your breath, your mind, your feelings and your body be absorbed in this totality of surrounding healing energies, from all these aspects and parts of Nature, and let it be transformative. Let it all transform your whole energy and experience, and let yourself be at one with it all. This is the transformative healing experience of Nature.

All Native teachers realize that Mother Earth and the natural world carries the healing energies. Physically, these healing energies or healing medicines are found in the plants, the herbs, and the trees. And so the great healers of any culture or community are the native herb healers, the medicine healers. Though let's not forget the healing powers of crystals and other natural gems, so the mineral kingdom also has healing powers. But the idea of 'medicine', in the Native view, has a much larger meaning than just physical substances. Thus, there are also Medicine Healers who work with spirit animals, or with natural-spiritual energies of the Earth, and also shamans who work with spirit guides or who know how to work in the hidden energy dimensions of life.

Shamans and medicine healers use all sorts of techniques, and each person has somewhat their own unique ways. Most often a shaman or medicine healer carries on what they learned from their teacher, but each also learns a lot from personal experience and practice. So in the Native world, or really in any culture or in any religion as well, we might find various medicine healers and shamans, who each use a variety of techniques or have their particular specialties.

Of course, within the Native American sacred traditions, the whole idea of healing is especially important. There is the sweat bath for purification, the medicine wheel for balance, and the vision quest for spiritual inspiration. Elders and their students often have medicine bags with various sacred objects such as special stones, crystals, herbs, flowers and seeds, feathers or other animal parts, which were either given by specially revered elders or else found with the guidance of Spirit. Each of these objects have a sacred natural power, such as a talent-giving gift, a visionary or a healing power. Some objects are used as power objects – giving one a certain kind of power. Of course all powers or power-objects can be used either wisely or foolishly.

Animal spirits are always important in native cultures and many are known to be healing. Animal masks are often used in spirit ceremonies and healing rituals, and each animal spirit has its own special power. Masks used in healing rituals can be very powerful. Yet one should be careful with masks, because masks tend to invoke the mask spirit; so you first want to make sure that this spirit is helpful and healing. Many native cultures use masks, head dress and body decoration in group celebrations, though the exact kinds of masks and decoration are unique for each culture.

And we should not forget music, voice and dance, which are often used in healing. Music can be sacred and healing, as well as simply enjoyed. For healing, the native flute is often used. Native drums are also important in healing, as drums are used in traditional healing rituals and some shamans use a drum in their healing work and spirit-world journeying. Singing and chanting most often go along with drumming rituals and healings. Each native language has their own particular healing chants, which are usually forms of prayer or expressions of gratitude. Dance can also be important in healing ceremonies. In fact, dance itself is healing. So let's all get dancing! The Bear Dance is especially known as a healing dance ceremony, because in certain traditions the animal spirit for healing is the bear. But in fact, many animal spirits are healing since each spirit has its own special quality of character strength. As for which animal spirits are used for what particular strength, this varies a lot over different cultures, so there is no definitive bible on which animal spirits do what. It's best to just go along with the culture or group you're in, or else discover what works on your own, for your own self, which is the way I use.

Native American healing and ceremonies will sometimes use the sacred pipe. For some of the native cultures and for some of the medicine healers, the sacred pipe is very important. It's used for sacred gatherings and group ceremonies, and it's used as a peace pipe for elder meetings. The pipe and the smoke are very often used in prayers and in healing. The medicine man or woman says the prayer, or chants it, or sometimes just thinks it in the heart, and then the rising smoke takes this prayer to Great Spirit. There needs to be a whole lot of sincerity and heart in this prayer. Another great practice to do with prayer and connection with Great Spirit is to – on a clear night, look out at the stars and deep into space, and then make prayers with or communicate with the Great Spirit, Who is everywhere in the vast Cosmos.

The healing energies of Nature

The greatest healing energies are found in the beautiful places of nature. But you have to be there. You have to get there and then be there. What I mean is that you can go into nature, yet not really be there. Your body is there, but your mind and heart is somewhere else. Very often the thoughts and the talk are somewhere in the past, in memories, or else the mind is wondering about the future, like what to do when you get back home or what to have for dinner. The goal-oriented mind seems to have a difficult time just being present in the present moment and being aware through the flowing present. Like I've said so many times, first you have to really get here, and then be able to remain here. And here is wherever you are. So when you're in a beautiful place or on a beautiful walk, the biggest step is to not wish or think about being somewhere else or in some other moment but right now. Then you can really be here, wherever you are. This is the first important step in receiving healing from Nature, from Mother Earth.

Now, once here and completely present, being fully awake in mind, heart and body; the next step is relax the mind. In fact, relax the need to think at all. No need to think. Just breathe, be conscious, be relaxed and present. Relax and breathe consciously. This helps a whole lot. The breath itself can be relaxed and unforced; not trying to be in any particular rhythm, but simply relaxed in the joy of just breathing, and breathing in all this beauty and good healing, even at times taking in some nice enjoyable deep breaths. So take in some nice deep breaths, if you feel like it, and let out some deep releasing breaths. This also feels great.

Breathe in all the good, and breathe out all the old stale stuff. Breathe in the renewing energies, and breathe out all the stuff that needs to go. This is all part of the clearing work and the revitalizing healing. But no need to force anything or try too hard. You do this because it feels good and because you know it's good. But keep coming back to the relaxing and just being here. Because this is how you become attuned with the natural world around you. Relax, be here, and harmonize with Nature.

Your particular needed effort in all this is to stay awake, to be conscious of what's going on, and also conscious of your own feelings and thoughts, and perhaps tensions or resistances. Whatever feelings of tensions or resistances, let them go, as this is part of the conscious clearing practice. Breath helps us be more conscious and also more sensitive to our own energies and reactions. The only kind of thought you really need in all this is realizing why you’re sitting here. All other thinking is unneeded and can be part of the clearing practice.

The final effort you need is to harmonize with the Natural energies in front and all around you... making some degree of conscious effort to be in harmony with Nature and with the natural place you’re in. You need to have a conscious willingness to harmonize yourself with the healing energy and healing intelligence of Nature, and what helps in this is decision. You might need to decide: I'm willing to be in harmony, I'm open to it, and I choose to harmonize myself with Nature. This conscious decision or choice is what I mean by willingness. And the little bit you need to do to help make this happen is your effort in it. It's a kind of effort, yet balanced by a kind of allowing.

It's a kind of effort, in that it's like making an adjustment in your energies, as best you can. It's like adjusting your own sound to the harmonious chorus around you. Yet in some sense, it's also like allowing yourself be adjusted or harmonized by the greater harmonies of Nature. So to some degree this might require an effort, but to some degree it's more a matter of allowing. This might involve some letting go, and it might involve some opening up, and it also might involve some trusting and allowing. Then, the healing energies of Nature can absorb into you and harmonize your energy field into natural health.

The final step, then, is to simply sit in the presence of this natural place. To sit in its presence is to sit in its spirit. Then start to receive and absorb the healing energies of this place. Just sit, be, and absorb. Let the sounds of Nature and the beauty of Nature and the presence of Nature, heal you. Let it heal you from head to toe. Remember that Nature itself is the great intelligence of natural health and harmony. So let it heal you all through your whole energy field and through your whole body, and through your mind and heart. Let it all in and let it all be healing.

To be fully conscious, in one's breath and also in one's senses, is the best way to work with the healing energies of Nature – to bring in these healing energies and to become harmonized and balanced by the natural world. But one doesn't always have to be intensely conscious in nature, in order to gain healing from an area. What I've been telling you is the best way to receive from nature, but you can also benefit from simply resting or even sleeping in a sacred or beautiful or peaceful natural place. This works best, though, if you first make a conscious intention to be receptive of the healing, before you drift into a rest or a sleep. So it's really best to first make some conscious effort and practice, and then, if you feel the need, lay down or sit relaxed, and allow yourself to drift into a trusting rest.

The main advice in this kind of practice is to drift into a deep rest or into a sleep with the feelings of trust, peace and gratitude. These are the feelings you want to have just as you drift into deep rest and into the dream world. Imagine and feel that you are sinking, with trust, into the loving and healing body of Mother Earth, as She wraps you in her warm and tender love. Or in other words, fall into sleep with the feeling of being embraced with healing love. And trust that this restful sleep will bring healing to your whole body, emotions and mind. Then, as you rest or sleep, the healing power of Mother Earth will absorb into your energy field and through your body, and this will all work in a subconscious way. All you need to do is to trust and let it happen.

From this practice of intentionally resting in Nature, you can receive one of the kinds of healing or maybe even all four. During this rest time, you could become cleared of lingering negative energies or emotions, as this clearing would happen subconsciously while you are resting. Or during this time, you could become more vitalized, as the vital-life energy enters into you from the ground below. Or during this time, you could become more harmonized and balanced, in body, emotions and mind. Or during this time, you could be given a spiritual inspiration or an important vision, and then wake up remembering it. Shamans and also vision questers will often receive visions or guidances while dreaming during sleep or in a semi-unconscious dream state.

So, healing or vision can happen, all while you rest or sleep. Yet this will more likely occur if you make a definite intention before you drift off, which is to have an aim in mind about what you are doing and what you want to happen. Or this intention could be to decide in what way you'd like to receive or get help from Nature. Or you can set up your intention by clarifying to your subconscious why you are needing to rest and how you hope Nature will be healing to you. The intention could also be voiced as a prayer. Having an intention, an aim, a prayer, or even a hope, and thinking about this before you drift off, will open up the possibility of this healing happening while you rest or sleep. So all this is possible, and it does really work, but as I said, the most effective and direct way of healing from Nature is with a conscious practice, when you're awake to what's happening and working consciously with it. This is best.

Also important for this healing work is that you choose a good healing place to meditate in or to rest in, some place that you feel is safe, comfortable and with the feeling of beauty all around you. Certain places, and even certain spots within certain places, are especially healing. The land at these special places have healing powers and were considered sacred places. In native indigenous communities the elders and medicine teachers passed down the knowledge of where these are, but they were also careful about who actually knows and what rules should apply there. You don't want everyone to know that a particular place has special powers, because you don't want teenagers to simply party there, and you don't want it to become a kind of tourist attraction. Too many people can ruin a special place, unless they walk in quiet deep respect. So it's generally best that these special sacred places are not advertized. Then, the only people who will know about these special sacred places are those who are really awake and sensitive to the earth energies.

Find special healing places on your own. Really, they're all over. If you just trust your natural senses and natural feelings, you'll find them. There might even be some good healing places in your own backyard, or you could even make a nice area to lay down for healing rest when you need it. Any place can become more healing if you bring special love and care to it, and if you build it with a peaceful and beautiful quality.