Q & A: Why is healing some times successful and sometimes not?

I’ve always been curious about why it is that healers can have powerful healing effects on some and not on others. In your experience, why do you think your work is successful with some and not others?

The short answer is I don’t know.

The fact of the matter is, we don’t know how or why it does work so can’t conclusively say why it doesn’t at times. In my experience there are some commonalities that we can use to make some associations and suppositions. To start this discussion, I think it’s useful to define what we mean by ‘healing’ and ‘success’.

For the first part of the discussion I’m going to define ‘successful healing’ as it relates solely to physical and mental illness: all medicalized symptoms vanish and don’t return. I’m choosing this for any number of reasons but the primary one is this: with the exception of the canine prostate cancer and osteosarcoma cases ‘proved’ cured by x-ray, there is no ‘evidence’ of remission or disappearance outside of client self-disclosure that symptoms have vanished and the issue can be (or has been) identified, defined, and measured. As far as I know those who have experienced loss of symptoms related to Lyme, Herpes Simplex 1 & 2, have not returned to their physician for a titers test to determine if the virus actually disappeared. Folks who have stop taking prescription meds or physical therapy again, as far as I know, haven’t gone back to the prescribing physician unless the process of doing so required supervision. I think my clients and I would both agree that ‘successful healing’ means they feel better and the presenting issue or diagnosis did not recur.

Of those human & canine clients who have come to me for relief of physical problems, there have been a few unsuccessful. There is no pattern really. Funky foot man was on the waiting list for a podiatrist at the Mayo Clinic and wanted to give something alternative a go. Abdominal adhesions did not dissolve, one person’s Lyme did not resolve, and an attempt at psychic surgery on a shoulder still required the scheduled under-the-knife surgery. A dog with osteosarcoma did not live and a paralyzed pig passed away without walking again (yes, I’ve worked on a pig), and another dog remained terrified of thunder.

One of the standard healer answers that I bought into for some time was that it was a matter of mind over matter or, rather, the client getting in the way of their own healing and while that may be the case in some instances I don’t believe it true in all. I used to believe that the success while working with animals was an indicator of why it didn’t work with humans. My reasoning went something like this: Animals don’t have the attachment to belief systems,  thought patterns, and expectations like humans do and, therefor, would prove it was those things were the impediment to healing. I had a 100% rate with dogs, horses, and cats that presented with measurable, documented physical illness, dangerous behaviors (the cat!), and mental effects of trauma. Until I didn’t.

Obviously, there are mental aspects to the healing process. We all know about the placebo effect (which, in my view, is merely another phrase for healing). We know the role it plays in every aspect of life and that nothing physical happens in isolation of our mental and emotional processes–and vice versa. In my experience, though, successful healing has little to do with belief and possibly something to do with expectation. I’ve had skeptics experience remission and fervent believers not.

The mental aspect of successful work has also been talked about in terms of client ‘buy-in’, follow through and ‘investment’ in themselves. I do feel the mental aspects work on the subtle and overt levels. There are some clients who come to see me, for whatever their own reasons, don’t want to make the lifestyle changes that would sustain the initial physical healing and thus, in my mind, wouldn’t be considered successful healing. And there are those who desperately want to be healed physically  for whom there is no immediate physical relief but changes in other aspects would lead me to consider the healing as successful (because I can see the long term effects that they can’t quite grasp until they see it, which can sometimes take a few weeks). For instance, one of my first clients was a musician who came to me to address tinnitus. The ringing never did disappear but during our second session, he said, “I’m just not pissed off all the time like I used to be. Is that normal?” I think he and I would both agree that that was successful even though it wasn’t the initial desired outcome.

Oddly enough (or maybe not), if I were to consider only those who’d come to see me with a focus on relief from mental health symptoms–whether they believe in healing or not–all experience relief, damn-near spontaneously but all within three sessions. And I’m sure they’d agree that is successful.

Moving into the less definable and measurable like ‘spiritual healing’, I think the definitions of ‘successful’ and ‘healing’ don’t belong in the discussion.  However, if I were to consider ‘unsuccessful’ as disappointed in outcomes those who are seeking a ‘spiritual’ healing or ‘awakening’ tend to be the most disappointed. Here, I think unsuccessful is the wrong word but the experience and/or subsequent outcome is not what the client desired or expected. If one comes seeking a Jesus-moment but doesn’t get it, they may not consider that work a success but I might because other things appear or arise. A couple of people have had experiences that were initially exactly what they wanted but their introduction to the invisible universe has scared the snot out of them and they were pissed off. Again, they didn’t consider the work successful but I did. Conversely, folks may have those experiences during a session and consider it a successful one, but when they choose not to follow through, I may be the one disappointed. To me, all of this is simply related to mental processes connected to expectation and definitions for those things outside the boundaries of such. However, I do not support the idea that people are ‘blocked’ from healing or unable to heal because of those mental processes.

We humans are complex creatures and, as much as we’d like to think we understand our relationship with the invisible aspects of the universe, we don’t. We don’t even fully grasp the relationships within (or upon) our skin. So I don’t know as we’ll ever know why healing in the fashion I do it or even allopathic treatments are sometimes successful and sometimes not.

Here are a few commonalities I’ve noticed in the past four years that may be useful in further discussion:

  • Those invested in healing who arrive without expectation of a particular outcome are the most ‘successful’. Invested in healing means showing up in with all your shit, and changing behavior patterns that sustain health–if that’s necessary (because sometimes it’s not). It doesn’t mean paying money although it’s interesting to note that those for whom there wasn’t ‘success’ are people who didn’t pay. However, since I do most of my work for free, most of the free folks are ‘success’ stories.
  • As long as I keep my own mental processes out of the way, ‘success’ occurs more quickly. If I just let energies ‘rock-n-roll’ with the focus on the relationship with the client, without seeking to create a particular outcome, amazing things happen. I’ve also learned that sometimes it’s not a one-off shot and folks require more than one session.
  • While there may be a mental element involved that prevents or slows ‘success’, it has little to do with ‘belief’ or ‘faith’.
  • Definitions of success and healing are sometimes different for every encounter and each person involved.
  • Healing within a group context or community is as effective, if not moreso, than individual work.
  • Ecstatic or mystical experience opens the door to a new way of perceiving and being, that some folks choose not to walk through (or to run from).
  • Honesty is always the best policy on the part of healer and healee.
  • The body, brain and mind are brilliant. Given the chance to dance with you, they will bring amazing gifts.
  • You get to choose whether that dance is a herky-jerky, fear-laden one or a smooth tango that lights you and those around you up.
  • When you expect one thing and get another, roll with the unfolding and see how the two are connected.
  • You can’t put god or the universe back once you’ve been introduced to the beyond.
  • I don’t know much.

We don’t know why or how healing of this fashion works so we can’t know why it doesn’t. The factors involved probably include both the healer & the client, and I surmise that there are environmental, physical, mental, emotional and communal factors that should probably be included in discussions of successful healing as we move into the future.

What I do know is that when I let myself be and the person or people with me do the same, magic happens. Every time. Even if it’s not what’s expected.

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