Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The Healing Process

The Healing Process

Healing is a process that takes time; a person in pain must be allowed that space and time to recover. Usually, he or she has to go through what is called the trauma cycle: a whole gamut of emotions will take its course--starting from shock and denial, progressing to anger and fear and finally acceptance.

Ultimately acceptance has to take place, and through total and complete acceptance, real healing begins. Sometimes we find ourselves very helpless when faced with a situation where we can't seem to do much to help a person who is in pain. There's actually not much that we can do except assist the person in lessening the impact of the trauma cycle, and hasten the process of recovery.

When we live in a family or community, we naturally develop an attachment to the people around us. This bond is forged through having a shared destiny and a mutually nurtured atmosphere of love and understanding. This interdependent community of people is what I call an ecosystem of love--a group-soul with its unique ego and identity. It is another step on the path of humanity's spiritual evolution, a notch up from our individual egocentric worlds. Such a group-soul behaves almost like a single organism.

When we learn to love or care for someone other than ourselves, we are progressing along the path of spiritual evolution. The world "spiritual" unfortunately brings about certain mystical connotations but in reality there's nothing supernatural about spiritual evolution; it is simply an emergent property of biological systems--a spontaneous organization of matter in accordance with the natural laws of the universe.

When an emergent organism forms, it begins to distinguish what is "external" to itself, and seeks to preserve what's within its own boundary--what is "me" and what is "not me". Ego is a natural consequence of the process of the emergence.

Our physical body is an emergent system. When a part of the body is severed, we suffer enormous pain because the system is disturbed. The nervous system issues a warning--pain--telling us that a part of us is missing and we need to do something to rectify the situation.

The pain of losing a loved one is like having a part of our body being torn away. This kind of pain is even more acute because not only physical loss is involved, the rest of the four-layer stack are also affected: that is, the emotional, intellectual and spiritual layers. We bleed and suffer through all four bodies.

When a system encounters shock and pain, it attempts to reorganize itself to achieve stability again. This is the healing process. If somehow stability cannot be achieved because the shock encountered is too severe, the system disintegrates, dies and dissolves itself back into the environment.

Helping someone to overcome pain is to ensure that the person does not veer into a state of instability. One has to protect the system from further shock so that there's proper space for the healing process to do its work.

Sometimes, the system undergoing the process of healing takes a perverted path and latches on to a temporary stable state, which usually impedes further healing. There's momentary comfort in such intermediate states, but they are ultimately unstable.

We can see this happening when a suffering person latches on to his feeling of anger or self-pity and begins to develop a deep hatred towards the world or withdraws himself completely from it. Because of this reaction he often gains a certain strength--all because he has found a cause, warped though it may be, for his wounded self to rise again.

Healing is a slow and delicate process, but it is a natural one. We must let nature take its course. Depending on the kind of wound inflicted, sometimes the scars can run deep. But heal it must, and heal it will.

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