The Healing Arts: 18 Things Healers Learn, #18; Healers Need Healers, Too
By Russ Reina
Compassion comes from the Latin com (with) and pati (suffering), roughly combined as "to suffer with." Another interpretation of the word, which is a bit closer to our typical understanding and usage of it, might be "connecting with suffering."
Suffering is part of the human condition. To connect with suffering does not mean experiencing it as the other experiences it. Just like any other feeling, what you see happening in others is run through your own filters. Everyone suffers in his or her own way. Connecting to suffering may be better understood as not separating from the experience of it.
As a healer, your role is to lessen or alleviate the suffering of others. You and your peers deserve that very same kind of comfort.
The mistaken impression is that healers are supposed to remain rock steady through all phases and types of the pain of others. Nowhere is this more evident than in the relationship of healer to healer. There are few systems in place that support the people who know the challenges best to work with each other.
What the culture seems to support is an acceptance of building walls and barriers of separation, both in the moment with the "patient," and afterwards with each other. Acceptable behavior involves all shades of avoidance, from silence to the tolerance of any number of forms of abuse. With continued exposure, and in the absence of any relief valves, these barriers become progressively impervious. Over time, less and less of anything gets in.
Moment to moment, we have different emotions coursing through us, like surges of electricity: "Wow, dig that." "That's funny!" "Are you serious?" "Oh-oh, that's scary!" "How sad." These are energies in motion (e-motion). The mechanism of handling the moment, during times of crisis is a string of choices that allows those feelings to keep moving underneath the surface, without fixating on any one of them long enough to interfere with taking the next action step.
Where the trouble comes in is afterward.
Each event and the waves of emotions that accompany it is subject to interpretation. Moments determined to be relatively benign are allowed to move through one's being without question. But "negative" emotions become the focus of an inordinate amount of energy that is expended to deny, suppress, avoid or somehow block the reverberation of their impact. From there arises a process of "burying alive" what was real. Nothing buried alive goes down without a fight.
Compassion for self is the touchstone to which healers must continually return. That means allowing the echo of disturbing moments to be experienced rather than suppressed. Compassion (again, to suffer with) does mean to connect with one's own suffering, but this paves the way for resolution in the moment and places the experience into a broader, more useful perspective.
Any form of suppression, however, takes what was an energy in motion and freezes it in place. The practical aspect of this is it takes a lot more time and energy to thaw and get to the energy tomorrow than it would have taken to move with the energy today, while it was still active.
By first establishing a regular time and place for you to sit down and face your own feelings, you bring what is real into the light. Often, that's all you need. By framing what happened as something that happens -- without judgment of it or yourself - you can allow yourself to let the energy of the emotions that passed move through you. You will be surprised how self-limiting they are when allowed to run their course.
Face your experiences. Write about them. Draw them. Put them on tape. Rant and rave about them. Scream them. Cry them. Make them real. Then, let them go.
But sometimes, the shadows are so numerous, you need whatever light is available to be reflected and magnified. That's where others come in. Ask for help. You can make an appointment. Ask for undivided attention for 15 minutes where you can simply be witnessed. You can ask that no comments be made except at your request. To know there's a time waiting just for you is magic.
Being a healer means creating a sacred space for healing to occur. That's what you do whenever you enter a room. It is your intent that calls forth the wisdom you need to use your experience and tools properly. What healers often forget, however, is they and all the healers around them need that sacred space as much as any of their charges.
By banding together and creating safe spaces to share and bring the incredible experiences that are inherent in the ebb and flow of life and death to the light, healers accelerate the recovery of each other as surely as they change the lives of others.
Russ Reina shares over 35 years of experience in the healing arts through his web site http://mauihealingartist.com. It is a potent resource for those wishing to deepen their abilities in connection and develop their powers as healers. For a powerful free tool to explore your inner world, please check out his adjunct site http:// thestoryofthis.net
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