What is health? When we talk about health and healing what is our goal? I’ve been thinking about these issues for a while and how they relate to shamaism. When I ask for a healing what am I really asking for. Do I just want the pain from a problem or disease taken away? Do I want a magic wand that give me what I want when I want it, including curing disease?
The World Health Organisation defines health as
Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
This definition was formulated in 1948. It does move beyond a definition based on a medical model of disease alone. Yet it would seem to suggest that if I have any residual illness, say a chronic illness, then I don’t meet the standard. It also does not directly include spiritual health.
So when I’m looking for healing is this definition of health what I’m aiming for?
I would describe what I’m looking for is to be fully me, engaged in the community around me, and able to work in a way that fulfills me,which delivers benefit to myself and those around me. Now this description is very personal to me. It requires me to be connected to my true self, without obstruction. It requires me to know what fulfills me. It is very much an aspiration. It is one that has led me on a very varied path, yet at each turn has been at the underlying root of the decisions I have made.
I feel that it is only through shamanic healing that I have been able to step much closer to being fully me. The removal of spiritual barriers such as soul loss or overshadowing of other spirits enables me to gain a much better insight into who I truly am. Over the years I came across a few things that helped me (like understanding my purpose in life) but nothing else that engaged with my true self at such a deep level. Shamanic healing is a great gift to receive. It is also a great gift to work with others.
Shamanic healing though is much more than a simple healing tool. Firstly it requires of the person being healed to engage with the work. Often I have been asked to do things as part of the process. I also have to engage with others differently. It can be an ongoing process as I learn more about myself.
Secondly it works at a level beyond the intellect, indeed the intellect can get in the way. It is nice to have a healing story at the end of a healing, so my mind can deal with the changes. But for me the greatest changes have been the revelations that come from the heart. Working with the revelations has brought pain, as I feel my own hurt or feel the pain of the universe. These revelations have taken my outside myself and into the community around me. I’m no longer a separate being but one who is more connected into the web of the universe.
Thirdly, it is part of a deeper spirituality. It takes us into nature, to connect with the world around us. It connects us into the vitality of the universe and the things around us.
Working with the spiritual has helped me with the physical and with the mental. For me they are all interlinked. Physical illness is influenced by the mind and by the spiritual. Mental illness is influenced by the spiritual and the physical. Spiritual illness is influenced by the physical and the mental. Yet it is the shamanic healing that has most aligned me to what I’m looking for in terms of my health.