So I know I’m a little late to the party, but I’ve recently become hooked on Netflix series ‘Outlander’.
Set in 18th century Scotland, there is a lot happening: time travel, witches, hot men and kilts. But one storyline follows the main character, Claire Beachamp, befriending a local woman, Geillis Duncan. Geillis and Claire (a nurse in her former life) share an ability to use medicinal herbs to help with illness.
In the show, the gentry and village folk alike flock to Geilis and Claire to solve a variety of issues, both physical and spiritual; and are they are therefore referred to as ‘healers’.
That got me thinking.
This intersection between ‘health’ and ‘healing’ has fractured more and more in the centuries since the world of Claire, Geillis, and medieval Scotland. Organic methods of herbs, energy, and spirituality became the realm of alternative practitioners; whilst the traditional and scientific based ‘health’ practices became the stomping ground of qualified doctors.
And yet, in recent years, there has been a notable rise in the numbers of commercial ‘healers’.
So what IS the role of the modern healer?
There are many varying levels and abilities of modern-day healers.
Healers work in many, many different ways. Some use music, some use massage, some use crystals. They might work off information you’ve offered, whilst others might offer you their diagnosis. There are energy healers, chakra healers, acupuncture healers, pranic healers, shamanic healers, water healers, and singing healers. (And that’s the short list…)
What they all have in common, however, is the ability to transfer or communicate spiritual energy from a higher source, or otherworldly place, to the recipient.
One Sydney-based healer, Theme Rains, offers this explanation:
“At the heart of Spiritual healing is an understanding that we are much more than our physical body, and that our health, wellbeing, relationships and overall quality of life is affected by our spiritual dimension of being… regardless of whether or not we believe in it,” she says.
“Spiritual healing focuses on bringing more spiritual energy into the ‘being’ of the one receiving the healing. This is seen to help ‘lift’ the receiver into a higher state of awareness, supporting them to effortlessly release energy blocks and ‘denser’ vibrations (such as disease, distress, anxiety, grief etc) and align more fully with ‘spirit’.”
Right. So what does that mean they, er, ‘do’?
“Spiritual healing is not ‘done’ by the healer, but rather the healer ‘gets out of the way’ and allows themselves to be a conduit for the Light to flow through them to the receiver.”
How to look after your mind. Post continues after video…
At this point, the conversation generally divides the listener up into three camps:
- What a load of sh*t.
- I absolutely subscribe to this belief.
- I’m wary, but interested.
I personally have undergone a shift from Option #1 > Option #3 in recent months. Living in the North Bondi area, it’s hard to escape the hordes of natural and alternative medicine practitioners. A hivemind of urban hippies and health nuts, I could possibly be the only resident who has not yet been touched (physically, spiritually, emotionally) by a healer.
I did, however, come close.
It was a few months back, and everything was crowding in: work was frantic, there were issues with my family (who live interstate), and I was perpetually run down and stressed. Anxious. Nibbling at nails and lying awake until the wee hours.
Mindful of my dwindling health, I decided to take some action. And rather than sit with yet another middle-aged-white-man doctor and explain that no, I didn’t want a prescription for sleeping tablets, but a solution – I opted for a healer.
What harm could it do?
He was a music healer, and I had seen him perform at a local night in Bondi. He was young, and passionate for his work, and really talented – but moreover, he had a solid reputation as a healer. I messaged him, and a time and date was set.
But something skewed, and I couldn’t make it. We rebooked, then he had to cancel. On and on we chased our tails, booking and rebooking some eight or nine times before I got cold feet and canned it. This time around, it just wasn’t meant to be – but it did spark an interest to keep searching for an alternative answer.
And yet, something inside me – likely to be my suburban upbringing by a GP and a skeptic – shrivelled at the thought of seeing a healer. It seemed… silly. Make believe. Indulgent. If I really had a problem, I should hurry along to the qualified, middle-aged, male doctor; and take his qualified, middle-aged, male advice – right?
The issue with subscribing to that line of thinking is that it is simply not true.
In a world where anxiety is rampant, and social networks (the IRL type, not the URL type) are disintegrating, more and more people are feeling ‘lost’. More often than not, it’s without reason: there doesn’t always have to be a sick parent, or a stressful job, or a failing marriage. Sometimes people just feel like they are not flowing through life, getting the gear stick jammed and unable to move forward.
With this in mind, I wanted to know who was able to find relief from that situation, via the workings of a spiritual healer.
I put out the call to my immediate network to ask for the innumerable people who have been positively affected by a spiritual healer, and offers of interviews came in thick and fast.
One pal, Emily*, spoke with me for almost half an hour about her experience with a healer. A self-confessed country kid who "never even went to a GP, unless there was a bone jutting out somewhere!", Emily was a skeptic until she too moved in the Bondi area, and decided to try her hand at some healing practices.
"The first time I saw an Energy Healer," says Emily, "for 2 weeks afterwards I was an emotional mess! When I contacted the healer to ask her, "What have you done to me"? She responded saying that I was like a bottle of water with mud on the bottom.... and she had got right in there and stirred it all up."
The stirring of emotions came in a variety of reactions: visions, 'blacking out' during treatment, bodily shocks when the healer touched her heart, and weeks of feeling unsettled and upset after her sessions. But she maintains that the process has shifted her to a more stable emotional place.
"It's a bit like Pandora's Box," she says. "Once it's out, it's out for good. I just learnt a lot about myself and am extremely emotionally and socially aware now. I think it's a positive thing."
Another friend contacted me to say she actually became a healer after a strange string of events. Always a vivacious party girl, Hayley and I met on the dancefloor almost a decade ago. I could hardly believe she was now a healer.
"I got into it by accident actually," she explained.
"Someone I knew recommended seeing an esoteric healer about two years ago when I was going through a tough time. If it wasn't for this specific person recommending it to me, I probably wouldn't have gone as I have a Christian background and hands on healing had a spooky connotation."
She describes her first session with the healer as a hugely physical experience - she started sobbing as soon as she lay on the table.
"I felt a deep longing and missing something, at the time I thought it was my parents but now I realise it was love. I cried throughout the session and felt a lot lighter afterwards. I had occasional sessions after and although I didn't cry all the time, I would feel very centered, still, warm and loving in my body. Sometimes I'd get tingly feelings or sensations but then they'd go."
But it's what came after that, that was most shocking. A year from her first appointment, Hayley - an actress - had planned on moving to L.A. for work. But what happened next changed her forever.
"Half an hour before I was supposed to get on the plane I got an intense migraine with blindness and vomiting and they wouldn't let me fly," she remembers.
"I should have cancelled the trip then as I felt that I wasn't supposed to go. But two days later I got on another flight. When I arrived border security almost didn't let me in and (I'll do my best to describe this), I felt these massive waves of 'bad energy' running through my body, an intense grief, I would cry at intervals, I was sleeping only 1 hour out of every 24 and found myself in some pretty dangerous situations."
She realised the universe was sending her a message. She cancelled everything, and flew home within just a week.
"The journey home was the easiest thing ever. A family member helped with my flights, friends helped me get from the airport (there and back) and I had a lot of support when I came home."
Two weeks later she booked herself into an advanced 'esoteric healing' course, and to her, 'it felt like home.'
"I never planned it or thought about doing it, but I know it was my soul's intention for me to do the course. My life is astounding now. My whole life has improved drastically."
"I have formed close and intimate relationships with most people around me, healed issues between myself and family members, stepped into my power, am able to express, don't have social anxiety. I haven't had a migraine for a year and I get no period pain after 20 years of having it."
I have never believed in blind commitment. Whether to a job, a religion, a relationship, or a cut of jeans (goodbye, bootcut) - moderation is always key. But can you be 'moderate' in your approach to spiritual healing? Or is 'all or nothing'?
Earlier, I mentioned that the talk of spiritual healing generally divides people into three camps. But I'm starting to think that perhaps it is just the two?
- I am welcoming this into my life
- I am not welcoming this into my life.
There is, surely, another force active in our world. Something beyond traditional medicine, and middle-aged-white-male doctors in lab coats dishing out sleeping tablets. Maybe we have swung too far from the innate understanding of 'the invisible' that ancient cultures understood; and into a place where we mask our natural, normal, human feelings with fancy names and even fancier drugs.
Indeed, there is a longing in most women for connection and understanding. We live in a disconnected world, and the cracks are starting to show: anxiety, insomnia, even just plain and simple loneliness. And this applies from the fictional moors of 18th century Scotland in Outlander, to the barefoot cafes of Bondi in 2016.
Young, old, rich, poor: I know first hand that this sense of unease and need for healing - whatever that might be - permeates every corner of our modern society.
Spiritual healing might be curing ailments, but it also might just be connecting two people for a moment in time. A connection that is so pure and without judgement, it can cause the recipient to fall into a state of total trust and relaxation. Call it placebo, call it a spiritual touch, who cares. It feels good.
And hey, that can't be bad for ANYONE.
* This post does not pertain to medical advice. If you have health care concerns, please consult a medical professional.