Healing Work

As a culture we’re passive about healing. We expect to show up at the doctors and get some pills, or some surgery that will make the problem go away. Or we want a magic herb, wand or laying on of hands to the same effect. We say ‘healing work’ when we mean the work that healers do, when perhaps we should be more willing to apply it to ourselves. We all get sick. Many of us will experience mental health problems too. Healing work is something we could all do with paying some attention to.

There are a lot of ailments that can be tackled, and if not sorted then alleviated by lifestyle changes. Diet, exercise and sleep patterns have a lot of influence. A good diet isn’t merely about weight, it’s about giving your immune system some decent raw material to work with.
Exercise isn’t just about weight either, keeping the heart healthy, working off stress, building physical confidence, keeping mobile. We do a lot of healing work when we sleep. If we don’t give time to sleep, how do we expect to heal in a timely fashion? Diet, exercise and sleep all impact on mental health, which in turn impacts our ability to deal with other health challenges.

It is work. It takes effort and discipline to try and change your lifestyle, change harmful thinking habits, and maintain wellness. This needs recognising. People who expect the magical fix (from the doctors or the reiki) will get disheartened by the lack of a magical cure all, and won’t stick at doing the needful work. There are no ‘cures’ there are things that supress symptoms, ways of cutting out problem parts of the body, things that boost the immune system and things that prevent you getting the disease in the first place. Whatever route you go, your body has work to do, healing from the experience and sometimes from the knock on effects of the treatment – as with cancer, or having an operation.

I’ve been trying to fix my head for years now. I’ve had brief stints on medication, had cognitive behavioural therapy interventions (all on paper) had one to one counselling, time with a support group, self help books… and I’m still not there. Depression and anxiety continue to flare, affecting my body as well as my mind, and limiting what I can do. There are days, I confess, when it feels pointless to keep fighting this stuff. Then I stop and look back and think about how much more ill I was a year ago, two years, three… I’ve come a very long way. The effort that went in was worth it, and I remind myself that it’s going to take more effort to go the rest of the distance, and that it can be done.

It doesn’t help that we aren’t really taught to feel responsible for our bodies. We could take huge strain off the health care systems just by learning how to look after ourselves, learning how to work at being well. Maybe not all the time, but enough of the time that we aren’t flirting constantly with disease. That would mean taking stress seriously too. Stress is not good for your immune system, heart, nerves. Stress begets mental illness, makes us sleepless so we don’t heal, makes us feel we can’t stop to take care of ourselves. If we took stress seriously we might have to face the uncomfortable truth that a lot of workplaces are contributing to the ill health of employees in big ways, and then it might be possible to sue, and big business isn’t going to like that. So keep taking the magic pills, and don’t ask any awkward questions…

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

7 responses to “Healing Work

  • ysgawen

    Wise words.

    I’m generally pretty good at repairing damage – I know my herbs and such – but when it comes to looking after myself in the first place, I can be pretty lazy about it.

    I’ve had some pretty bad leg and back problems in the past year and took a lot more painkillers than I would normally. For reasons more spiritual than health related, I took up belly dancing a few months ago and the more I work on the dancing, the less trouble I have with pain. I hadn’t realised how much tension was held in my back and shoulders and I am also discovering that the circulation in my legs has improved and so has my basic agility.

    I’ve lived too much in my head and left the body to fend for itself, now things are getting more in balance.

    • Nimue Brown

      I’ve been thinking I wanted to try belly dancing, am now even more persuaded, I defintiely hold tension, and some basic agility would be fab. Thanks for sharing.

  • tiapandora

    Hi Nimue-I agree with most of what you’re saying, except for the last paragraph. We are taught to care for our bodies, but sometimes we didn’t listen. Remember when the Grandmothers told us, “Eat more slowly, dear”.
    “Don’t go without a hat”. “Don.t borrow trouble”. “You need to get more rest.”
    “Don’t sweat the small things”
    We were taught to care for ourselves, just sometimes we didn’t listen..

    • Nimue Brown

      Some of us were better taught, and some of us were taught unhelpful things, and many of us get a mix – my Gran was a stoic, beleived in not making a fuss… there are times when making a fuss helps. I didn’t scream in early labour stages, so no one in the hospital took me seriously that I was in labour, but that ‘don’t make a fuss’ thing was so ingrained, I couldn’t have screamed my pain when I needed to. I find it hard to cry in front of other people, too. I was taught as a child that I’m a hypoochondriac who makes too much fuss about pain and illness, it’s left me finding it very difficult to acknowledge problems and ask for help. But I do know some good tricks with herbs. Mixed bag, really.

  • helgaleena

    I don’t like your lumping Reiki into the ‘magical fix’ category, friend. For one thing, magic works, as do placebos. For another, it hurts my feelings when people won’t accept available help. Often it is because they have a mental barrier, but it still stings a bit. (I am a Reiki practitioner if you didn’t catch on)

  • Nimue Brown

    Sorry!
    Lack of clarity on my part, sorry, what I was trying to get across is the idea that showing up for a magical fix (no difference between conventional medicine, alternative and magical healing here) and assuming that’s it, is not for the win. People who won’t change their lives and expect magic, including reiki to do it all for them, are not going to be able to heal if the problem is in their life.

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