What is Healing?

Person sitting on the dock at dawn

What is healing exactly?

The meaning I use is: the process of recovery, repair, and a return to wholeness.

In fact, the root word “to heal” actually means wholeness, to become whole again. It is the same root from which the word “holy” comes, meaning sacred. Thus, healing, wholeness and the sacred are intertwined.

Traditionally the idea of becoming whole has been an important part of what people and societies mean by healing. But that begs the question: What is a whole person? If you seek to become whole again, what are the parts that need to come back?

A whole person is one integrated in mind, body, and spirit.
It is not the same as one without disease.

That is key. Healing may – or may not – result in cure. You can see healing occur and sometimes witness the most profound wholeness at the end of life, when individuals are reconciling not only with themselves and the challenges that they have had personally, but also reconciling with their families and their communities. This reconciliation can heal not just the individual, but the family and community as well, leaving a healing legacy for the next generation; even as the individual is dying.

One cannot talk about wholeness unless one also talks about the social connectivity that makes up a person; the family and the community in which we are embedded.

Wholeness also means social wholeness. You can also have individuals that are cured, having absolutely no sign of disease, but who are terribly unwell, unhealed and fractured from society. Everyone has seen examples of both of these. Healing and cure intersect, but they’re not the same.

Science has shown that restoring connection to self and community results in healing, not just emotionally, but also physically. Its impact can be as large as any drug or surgery.

Next week I’ll discuss two approaches to pain and illness and what that means for our future.

Until then, what does being a whole person mean in your life?

Are you fully connected and at peace with yourself; your past; your future; your family; the community around you?