Friday, February 19, 2010
Hands-on-healing starts making sense to me, when I start watching people’s reaction to today’s modern culture and natural environment. My son was seven years old when he was operated on for his tonsils. They were unusually large and often infected for years. I tried every thing to by pass surgery but in the end, it was the only treatment that would truly work for him. I remember seeing the fear in his eyes when the nurses literally dragged him into surgery. The only way he managed to relax is when I promised to be there when he woke up. It took a lot to actually hold that promise because the nurses didn’t exactly want me to be by his side in the post-surgical room. Nevertheless, I was there when he opened his eyes. I remember the way he looked at me at waking. He was surprised to see me and totally happy.
“You’re here mommy,” he said as if he hadn’t really believed it when I made the promise. I massaged his arms, his back and his iv hand that day to relieve pain, to appease fear, to send the message that he wasn’t alone and that he was loved. Whatever I did worked because all through the room I heard children crying, vomiting, screaming but my son didn’t do anything else but sleep and heal. We returned home that day and I learnt something about sacred touch.
In the years that followed the theme of sacred touch kept repeating in so many different ways. At the grocery store one day I noticed that one of the cashiers was having trouble with her cash. She was new to the job but even then, she seemed to struggle more than most. People complained in the line up and some even harshly complained to her face. When it got to be my turn I noticed that the young woman was scared. Her hands trembled and she made ridiculous mistakes most probably because her emotions were over riding her practical mind.
“Of for God’s sake!” I remember saying when I stretched over and grabbed her hands. I pulled the young girl to me and forced her to look into my eyes.
“Look at me I said,” with a bit of reprimand, “You can do this. Don’t concentrate on the people. Concentrate on the produce, the prices, and the money. Have some fun.” Then, I winked and smiled. The young girl stopped breathing for a minute and then, giggled. Our grocery went by without a problem. The week after when we returned I decided to go back to the girl’s cash when she saw me she chuckled and told me that she needed the touch of both the hands and the eyes to survive her first day.
In the last decade I’ve been in the Hospital quite a bit because of personal health issues and what I found most upsetting while there – was how people forget, both patients and medical personnel, that we are humans and we are all mortals. At some point or another we will all get sick. Holding someone’s hand can go a lot further than actually finding a cure for cancer sometimes. In the earlier years of my illness, I met this elderly woman (87 years old) who had been in the hospital for twelve years. She was blind and paralyzed from the neck down because of a stroke. She had no family and thus, was a ward of the State. They couldn’t find a home for her because she needed full medical care and so she lived in the Hospital. Room mates never lasted more than 24 hours because the woman was bitter and nasty. When I arrived the nurses and doctors promised they would find me a room as soon as possible.
I’ve always been the kind of person that doesn’t back down from a challenge and I’ve always been the type of person who refuses to let people suffer if I can provide a solution. And so that night, I decided that this woman and I would become the best of friends. A bit after supper, I approached the old lady and started asking her questions about her life rather than sharing my own. She seemed to like that. There was no doubt that she was rude but wouldn’t you be if you were old, blind, paralysed, alone and alive when you wished you weren’t?
“What is it to you?” she said pretending that she was going to sleep.
“Nothing really…” I replied, “ I’m bored.”
She giggled at my honest comment and then, didn’t stop chatting until close to sunrise. I found that lots of what she complained about wasn’t so foreign to me. She harboured resentment against family members and even priests. Her stories were incredibly lucid and extraordinary. I learnt that she had been a school teacher her whole life. She mentioned a few local landscapes and pointed out that at some point in time these places had been small, one room schools. She put words to inner thoughts. At night she prayed and I prayed along with her. She was impressed with the fact that a 20 year old could know all of the Catholic prayers by heart. We spent six days together and each time the nurses would offer me a new room I’d say: “No!” From the corner of my eye I’d watch the old lady smile and I knew that she liked me.
After I went home, I kept returning for visits. She was no longer just a woman I met in the Hospital, she was a friend somehow. One night when I came by for a visit I didn’t bring any flowers like I usually did because I noticed that she didn’t like them too much even though she politely said: “thank you for the gift” each time. Instead I brought my florescent prayer beads. I told her that my grand-father had given them to me when I was little and that I left them on my lamp, near the table, by my bed so that I could feel close to him. She held my face that day when I told the story because she wanted to feel my expressions. For the first time in my life I realized how much we talk with our body and not with our words. She saw in me things that I hadn’t slipped into vocabulary just by the way my cheeks burnt and my lips trembled. When I wanted to step away from her somewhat embarrassed, she pulled me close. Rather than getting upset, I allowed her the moment because she deserved it more than me.
We prayed together that night one more time and she held the florescent beads in her hands. She asked me if “I believed that Jesus had forgotten her?” She seemed upset when she asked the question as if she believed it… I laughed so hard that she was startled. She didn’t expect my reaction.
“What’s so funny?” she asked a bit insulted.
“You,” I replied putting my hands against her cheeks.
“It’s not Jesus that has to come and get you,” I told her, “it’s you that has to make the decision to leave.” She looked down at her hands and suddenly saw the beads. She jumped with joy and started babbling that she could see them sparkle.
“I can see them, I can see them…” she kept saying.
I knew in that moment that she had made the choice and that she would be gone by morning. The next day, I got a call and a nurse told me that she had passed in her sleep. The florescent beads were given back to me along with some objects that she had left for me. When I picked them up I was greeted by a few doctors and nurses who told me that my presence had been the best medicine that Mrs.R. had gotten in over a decade.
Touch is no doubt healing but healing isn’t about “curing anyone from illness.” Healing is about bringing resolution, love, peace, integration, wholeness, wellness to someone’s life. In Shamanic Tradition – healing is simple, practical, and often mundane. It’s not something that is outside of the ordinary although when you’re in the healing moment it can be quite extraordinary. Great healers aren’t people who cure people from cancer or other diseases but people who can bring light and hope into some dark and desperate times. You can touch with words, with music, with silence, with gifts, with physical touch, and so much more….
G and I teach Sacred Touch according to the Sixteen Mysteries. Each mystery reveal a particular kind of touch and show how these touches can heal and in what circumstances. Sacred Touch isn’t a massage technique – it’s a life technique. It’s human basic touch done with consciousness and applied to situations that need healing.
There are countless examples of sacred touch in my life – but before I make this blog entry a 300 page book, I’ll leave you with these words -- food for thought.