The first step in spiritual healing is to recognize our own needs for healing. With physical illness these needs may seem obvious. In other situations, the needs may not be so obvious.
Some conditions of suffering seem to involve other persons or external circumstances. If we are blaming other persons or circumstances for our suffering, then we are not seeing the need for our own spiritual healing. Spiritual healing begins with the recognition that “I'm the one who needs to be healed.”
Healing Starts with Willingness
Spiritual healing begins when we are willing to be changed. It will not occur if we want others to change or if we want circumstances to change but are not willing to change ourselves. Other people in our lives may need healing as much as we do, but we will never become whole if we focus on their need for healing instead of our own.
Spiritual healing begins as we turn to God for help. We turn to God first because our original nature is spiritual. As spiritual beings, we are expressions of God, never separated from our Source.
We turn to God first and then to human beings as God guides us. Turning to God for help does not necessarily mean that we avoid human assistance. It does not mean that we refuse to change harmful conditions in our lives. We may need to turn to God for help and move our feet. God works through us but not for us. God is not a giant in the sky who will solve our problems for us, but God is that Giant within us who will guide us to right understanding and to right action.
Create the Healing Vision
Any condition of suffering—physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual—is a condition of disease (dis-ease). We define disease as “any departure from wholeness; any harmful or destructive condition; any condition of suffering.” We begin the spiritual healing process by acknowledging our own needs for healing and then turning to God for help.
The next step is to look at our responses to the experience of disease. Often our initial response is “Something is wrong; this shouldn't be happening!” We may feel resistance and anger. We protest. “Why did this happen to me?” “Why now?” “I did all the right things and now this happens; it's not fair!”
God works through us but not for us. God is not a giant in the sky who will solve our problems for us, but God is that Giant within us who will guide us to right understanding and to right action.
We usually view our suffering as something that happens to us. It may appear that we've become victims of some unwanted force disrupting our lives, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. We are conditioned to believe that we are in control of our lives. When something unpleasant happens that seems beyond our control, we may feel like victims of some “evil power.”
If you should find yourself responding in this way, do not become self-critical. That will only increase your suffering. Responding to a major disease with denial, anger, or guilt is very common. These responses are ways that we defend ourselves against the more vulnerable feelings of intense fear or grief.
We need to recognize and honestly acknowledge our responses to the condition without guilt or apology. We must have compassion for ourselves or else we add to our suffering. After becoming aware of and accepting our initial responses, we may then ask ourselves, Is there another way to see this?
How the Oyster Experiences the Pearl
Often we respond to a disease the same way we would respond to a flat tire: “Let's get it fixed so that I get on with my life.” We may see suffering as a major inconvenience that is getting in the way of our plans. We usually see a disease as a “stumbling block,” as something that blocks our conscious desires and intentions.
Spiritual healing begins when we are willing to see our suffering as a stepping-stone rather than as a stumbling block. Healing begins when we can open ourselves to the possibility of a hidden gift within the suffering. There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands.
An oyster's first experience of a pearl is that of an irritating grain of sand that shouldn't be there. Just as the pearl forms from an irritant in the oyster, we can discover great pearls of wisdom from those conditions that irritate us. The potential wisdom is already within us, but it may take an irritant to bring it forth.
In dealing with our irritants skillfully, we discover something within us that we never before could see. Who would believe that the lowly oyster could produce such a great prize as the pearl? Within us lies the potential for the “pearl of the great price.” This pearl is the priceless wisdom, power, and freedom for which we would gladly have given all our possessions.
Excerpted from The Quest for Wholeness.