Category Archives: Spiritual Healing

The Spiritual Purpose of Physical Illness

An excerpt from The Miracles Course by Lynn Woodland


Illness results when we’ve grown out of alignment with our highest good and highest purpose. Whether it’s on the small scale of several days in bed with the flu or the large scale of years of struggle with a debilitating illness, getting sick has a wonderful way of stopping us in our tracks, forcing us into new priorities, and redirecting our lives. From the big-picture paradigm of our Higher Self, illness helps satisfy unmet needs and gets us back on track in ways our conscious choices don’t. Sometimes this is as simple as a few days of enforced rest when we’re feeling overwhelmed and need a little assimilation time. A more serious illness may push us to change a lifetime’s worth of old habits.


Consequently, even though we may address any number of symptoms, the root of an illness won’t go away until we willingly choose the new priorities ill health forces upon us, and when we ignore our minor symptoms, we tend to invite “louder” ones. True healing requires coming into alignment with our highest good, and if we address symptoms without supporting this realignment, we probably won’t sustain a state of health and well-being for long. We’ll need to manifest some new event to help us continue the deeper process of change we’re ready for spiritually.


There are many proponents of mind-body healing who hold that we’re responsible for the health or illness of our physical body only to a point and then heredity, circumstance, and environmental factors kick in. However, when we take a longer, spiritual view, and let go of the notion that illness is bad or that we must have done something wrong to bring it upon us, all illness can be seen as purposeful, both to the personality and to the soul. The ego, (that is, the part of us that believes we’re defined by the limits of our physical body and, thus, highly vulnerable) can’t help but find illness threatening and regard it as the enemy. The ego, which tries to “control” its way to safety, turns the idea of self-responsibility into an exercise in fearful personal control, with illness being a sign of failure. However, as we address more deeply in another lesson, “responsibility” is not the same as “control.” We can only control what’s within the range of our conscious awareness. Illness is often a way we bring hidden, nonintegrated aspects of self to the surface and open to new options. This is, perhaps, one of its most important functions. So, rather than seeing illness as our failure to be responsible for our health, it’s more useful to view it as a sign that we’re ready to grow. The part of us that chooses illness is the “Self” with a capital “S”, the Spiritual Self that sees our highest good in a way the limited perceptions of our ego can’t.


From the perspective of spiritual reality, illness is a step toward wholeness. No one consciously chooses pain or illness, yet the experience of dealing with these challenges can lead us on a journey that ultimately delivers great rewards. I’ve heard many people with cancer and other life-threatening diseases describe their illness as one of the greatest blessings of their lives because it forced them to completely reshuffle priorities and pursue new paths that brought profound fulfillment. The illness gave them permission to make choices they wouldn’t have considered otherwise.



Illness and Change


While illness may signal our spiritual readiness for change, our personality may not feel the least bit ready or willing. Typically, the more we resist exploring new priorities, lifestyles, and self-awareness, the more illness forces us, against our personal will, to submit to a life circumscribed by painful symptoms. We may feel victimized by these changes or empowered, depending upon whether we let the experience of illness lead us somewhere or force it to push us, kicking and screaming, into our next step. The more we surrender willingly to the changes illness brings, the less we experience pain and struggle, even when the final result of an illness is death. Ultimately, death, too, is a realignment with our highest good when “life” becomes a state we’ve outgrown.



Illness as a Metaphor


Even at times we don’t consider ourselves ill, we may still have a symptom or two: chronic allergies, a tendency toward headaches, a pain or weakness in a particular body part, or a susceptibility to certain kinds of illness. Whether we’re dealing with the experience of serious illness or simply the occasional minor symptom, listening to these physical manifestations of dis-ease can uncover levels of meaning and purpose to them that we may never have realized were there.


Our physical symptoms communicate to us in a language filled with obvious metaphors. If we’re willing to pay attention, they tell us a great deal about our needs, our imbalances, and our path of healing. The very metaphors we use in speaking often mirror the physical symptoms our body manifests. I first became aware of this when I was director of a Center for Attitudinal Healing in Baltimore and worked extensively with people dealing with physical illnesses. I noticed how people’s pet expressions had a way of literally describing their illness. A woman with cancerous tumors in her leg frequently used the expression, “I can’t stand it!” Someone with food allergies continually said, “I can’t stomach it!” A woman with skin cancer spoke of things “getting under her skin.” (As I shared these examples in a workshop once, a woman spoke up and said, “I have difficulty receiving from people, and I just realized that my favorite expression is,

‘I can’t take it!'”)


To start understanding the language of your own physical symptoms, consider the metaphorical meanings of the affected body parts and functions. For example, hands are for handling things. If you have pain in your hands ask yourself: are you are holding on too tightly in some way? Are you trying to “handle” everything yourself? Do you have difficulty “reaching out” for love and support? Are you having difficulty “grasping” something? If your neck and shoulders hurt, are you “shouldering” more than your share of responsibility? Are you being “stiff-necked,” or overly rigid in how you’re seeing things? If you are a woman with tumors or pain in your breasts, have you been suckling the world until there’s nothing left for you? Do you feel in need of nurturing yourself? Do you feel in some way inadequate about yourself as a woman? If you have heart problems, have you felt “heartbroken?” Have you closed your heart to warmth and love? Have you lost your joy and passion for life? See which metaphors best fit the way you feel.


A woman in one of my workshops once couldn’t see how there could be any link between the back injury she sustained in a car accident (that wasn’t her fault) and her emotional needs until I asked how easy or difficult it was for her to feel supported in life and to allow others to support her. (Our spine is what provides “support.”) She admitted that receiving support had always been extremely difficult for her. As a result of the injury, however, her life changed to include a regular routine of various therapies with caring professionals whose sole agenda was to “support” her.


Addressing the situation indicated by the metaphor can powerfully assist healing and sometimes even alleviate the need for other treatment. For example, during a time when I felt sorely burdened by the pressures of life (“shouldering” more than I could carry, so to speak) I developed a painful “frozen shoulder” condition for which a medical professional prescribed several months of physical therapy. I “treated” my emotional condition of feeling burdened by clearing many projects from my plate and giving myself a highly uncharacteristic several-month break. I played more, worked less, and made relaxing a priority. As I felt less stressed, my shoulder improved so quickly that I wound up not needing the physical therapy.


While there are some amazingly literal connections that can be made between symptoms and illnesses, it’s also important to recognize that there’s no simple mind-body cookbook explanation that can be applied to every illness. There may be profound spiritual purposes to a condition that aren’t readily visible. For example, a my dear friend Cheryl, who was born with a crippling degenerative disease that took her life when she was thirty-one, was occasionally accosted by over-eager healers who told her that if she only had enough faith, she could heal. She took offense at this, primarily because these individuals assumed that just because she lived life in a wheelchair and in an obviously different body that she was not “healed.” Cheryl strongly believed in a spiritual purpose to her physical disability. A believer in reincarnation, she felt certain that she had committed suicide in a previous life and had “chosen” her current situation to help her learn to love life no matter what. She felt her life lesson was not to change her physical body but to appreciate life in spite of any pain and limitation her body created. By the end of her life, she unquestionably did.


Many people are familiar with Louise Hay’s classic book, You Can Heal Your Life, which has a listing of physical symptoms and their corresponding emotional dynamics. While I highly recommend this as a useful reference to have on hand, I don’t suggest you start by reading someone else’s interpretation of your symptoms. Symptoms and their messages are complex and very personal. Sometimes reading what the “expert” has to say closes our minds to our own insights and even if a correspondence is right on the money for us, if we don’t feel the truth of it for ourselves, the information won’t change anything.


In coming to an understanding of why we have a particular symptom, instead of rushing quickly to a neat and tidy theory about what it means, it’s perhaps enough, at first, to simply trust that there is meaning, maybe many layers of meaning. While the following exercise offer some insight into the “language” of physical symptoms, keep in mind that a dis-ease often speaks to us on many levels at once. Be mindful not to latch on to one explanation to the exclusion of all others. Keep listening and opening, letting the messages of your body take you deeper into “Self” understanding.



Exercise: The Language of Symptoms


The following exercise can help you understand the messages your body is sending through your physical symptoms. You’ll probably find that more information and insight come to you if you do this exercise in writing. Even more effective is to do it with one or several other people, sharing each question out loud and giving each other feedback and added input. Often the messages in our physical symptoms remain stubbornly invisible to us while they are glaringly obvious to an objective observer. Another viewpoint can be invaluable in bringing some of these dynamics to light.


Step One

Where in your body do you manifest physical symptoms? What chronic or recurring physical conditions do you have?


Step Two

What are all the physical functions of this part of the body and what metaphors come to mind related to these functions? Also look at some of your pet expressions and see if they have physical body references. These expressions may tell you something about real symptoms you manifest. For example, I’ve had a tendency to manifest headaches since I was a child. I also inherited my mother’s and grandfather’s condition of growing large, benign cysts on my head. An expression I used to say frequently was, “I feel like my head’s going to explode!” I didn’t say this when I had a headache, when I literally did feel like my head would explode. Instead, this was my spontaneous expression of exasperation when I had too many things going on in my life, too many things on my mind, and felt overwhelmed. (I’ve taken this expression out of my speech. I seldom have headaches any more.) Play and free associate with your own metaphors and expressions until they reveal insights into the emotional dynamics underlying your symptoms.


Step Three

Next, ask yourself how this physical condition is serving you. As we’ve touched upon in other lessons, any life condition that we struggle with but can’t seem to change has some unconscious payoff keeping it in place. Physical illness is no exception. For example, I discovered over the years that headaches have a number of payoffs for me. Among other things, it slows my mind down when I “feel like my head’s going to explode.” When my head’s full of pain, it’s not full of thoughts. So, ask yourself what your physical symptom may be helping you, allowing you, or forcing you to do, be, or have that you wouldn’t otherwise experience. Write down everything that comes to mind, even things you wouldn’t normally define as positive. Specifically:


1)      Is it forcing you to let others help you?


2)      Is it causing you to spend your time differently? If so, what might be the gain in this?


3)      Are you receiving attention (positive or negative) that you wouldn’t otherwise get? If so, how is that attention giving you something you need or expect? (Sometimes negative attention preserves a familiar identity we’re not ready to let go of, or keeps people from expecting too much from us, to name just a couple of possible gains.) Was illness the way you received love and attention when you were young?


4)      Is your illness resulting in your developing new strengths and resources?


5)      Is it preserving a familiar identity? If so, what is that identity and what might you lose that you don’t want to lose if you acted outside your own box?


6)      It is allowing you to put off doing something burdensome or frightening?


7)      Is it protecting you from failing by preventing you from beginning something?


8)      Does it distract you and keep your attention away from things that are too painful to look at? Does physical pain take the place of emotional pain?


9)      Does it allow you to avoid painful or frightening emotions, such anger, sadness, guilt, or shame? Is illness a way you implode instead of explode?


10)   Does it give you permission to say “No,” set boundaries, get angry, be selfish, or grieve?


11)   How are your relationships with others affected by your symptom? Have they deepened as a result? Does it provide an acceptable way to be vulnerable and more open emotionally? Does it create “space” interpersonally: fewer relationships, more privacy, or more time alone? Does this condition offer protection from intimacy and possible hurts that could result from getting close?


Step Four

Review the information you’ve gathered so far and explore what secondary gains this physical condition is offering you.


Step Five

What would you need to do to receive the secondary gains without needing the physical condition? The true answer to this question invariably involves some degree of risk and stretching beyond your comfort zone. Keep exploring this question until you find where the risk is for you. This is where the greatest healing lies. It might mean taking a day off without being sick or finding ways to ask for the love, attention and support you crave without having to “need” it first.


If we look deeply enough into the payoffs of our illnesses we’re likely to uncover ways our lifestyle has gotten significantly off track. While this may push us toward difficult choices, the end results are far richer than simply being symptom-free.


Step Six

Create and act on a plan of things you’re willing to do to give yourself the secondary gains you identified without illness forcing you to it. See if you can find at least three things you’re willing to do without having to have your symptom as a motivator.


I don’t mean to encourage anyone to forgo sensible medical supervision or suffer unnecessarily without medication. I’ve certainly downed my share of Excedrin when in the throes of a migraine. I am suggesting, however, that we not rely solely on medicine to effect healing. Listening to our symptoms and letting them guide us somewhere instead of seeking the most passive release from discomfort isn’t the easiest path in the short term, but it invariably holds the richest rewards in the long term.


Preventive Health Care


I sometimes ask people what they would do if a chronic health condition became life-threatening. Without giving it much thought, many people immediately come up with a whole list of major life changes, such as leaving a relationship that isn’t working or a job they don’t like, taking time for projects or self-care that always gets back-burnered, or spending more time with family and loved ones. These folks describe all kinds of things they’ve wanted to do for a long time but feel unable to.


What would you do if you were diagnosed with a life-threatening illness? If there are important things you’d do if you were direly ill that you feel you can’t or shouldn’t as long as you’re healthy, you may be unconsciously setting the stage for a health crisis to enter your life to give you permission to change. The wider the gap between the life we’re currently living and the life we’d create if we knew we were seriously ill, the more we “need” illness to help us grow. You can practice preventive health care by finding ways to implement your illness plan now instead of waiting for a crisis to give you permission. If this plan necessitates difficult choices, ask yourself, would you do it if your life depended upon it? Act as if it truly does.



Questions for Thought


  1. Are there significant changes you’d make in your life if you were diagnosed with a life-threatening illness?


  1. If so, is there at least one of these you’re willing to do now?



If You Are Currently Living with a Life-Threatening Illness:


  1. Replace the question, “How can I get well?” with the questions “Why do I want to get well? What do I have to live for? Do I feel complete with my life as it stands? If not, what is there left for me to do?”


True healing occurs when we embrace our passion and purpose for living rather than our battle with illness and fear of death, and when we live as though each day is our last, completing whatever is unfinished and making the most of each moment. When we pursue healing in this way, the outcome of the disease becomes less important. We may find that our physical healing process speeds up miraculously, or that our symptoms remain the same but no longer inhibit our joy in living. We may find that our disease progresses, yet we experience a profound sense of peace around the transition of death. Ultimately we call forth whatever outcome best serves our highest good, and we feel at peace with it.


My previously-mentioned friend Cheryl, was an excellent model for pursuing her passions and living life to the fullest right up to her very last minute of life. Just months before her death, when she was completely bedridden and heavily medicated for pain, Cheryl was busy planning a trip to Disney World! Of course she never made the trip but she did have many better-than-Disney experiences of leaving her body and being with her angels. Her very last day included a two-hour phone conversation with me in the middle of the night describing, excitedly, a feeling she had that she was on the verge of being born. The next afternoon, hours before her death, her friends, visiting her in the hospital, sneaked her down the hall for a forbidden but much desired shower and afterward shared a last supper of her favorite chocolate doughnuts. Shortly after everyone left, Cheryl easily left her body. While we all wanted to be there, we suspected that she waited until she was alone because she knew we’d be upset watching her go and forget the truth of how delighted she was to take the leap.


  1. What are you willing to do this week, this month, and this year to pursue what you love the most? If you knew tomorrow was your last day, what do you need to do today to feel complete? How can you make today the richest time of your life?

Distance Healing

What is this service, and who is it for?

This is a free service offering personalized, distance healing from a group of Lynn Woodland’s ordained healing ministers. If you would like to make a donation to support this ministry, there is an option below

Feel free to use this service any time you’re experiencing a health crisis, chronic health issues, or dis-ease in any area of life.

To receive healing, complete the following:

Distance Healing

The healing ministers will generally offer distance healing on your behalf within a week of receiving your request.


To contribute to The Distance Healing Ministry use the Paypal button below

Contributions to the Distance Healing Ministry

Why Would We Not Heal?

  • We’re stilling learning something from the illness/symptom. Perhaps it’s meeting a need we haven’t found another way to fulfill: for caring attention, time for ourselves, protection from risk-taking, etc.
  • Healing it too quickly would shake our sense of reality in a way that would be more uncomfortable than the illness. This level of discomfort may be unconscious until we’re faced with it. A healer I know who had successfully healed himself of a terminal heart condition, diabetes and more, decided to grow a missing tooth back after seeing this happen in his work with the dental healer, Dr. Willard Fuller. He set about it in the way he had healed so many other conditions and there was a point in the process where he actually felt a cracking sensation in his jaw, right where the missing tooth had been. Instead of embracing the sign of healing, his first impulse was a big inner, “NO!” He was very surprised at his own response and understood it to be a manifestation of his limiting beliefs: even though he had healed himself in so many other ways, this one seemed “too big!” Fortunately, the more we’re aware of these hidden agendas, the more power we have to choose and the less they control us.
  • We’re focused more on battling something painful than on pursuing something joyful. What we give attention to we magnify. If we’re giving a large amount of attention to our distress over the problem, we hold it in place. When we stop battling an illness we free up a tremendous amount of energy that can then move in the direction of healing.
  • The pain we know may feel safer than the potential risks of the unknown. If there’s a symptom or problem we’ve been living with for a long time, one that’s gotten a lot of our energy and attention, its sudden absence would undoubtedly leave a big empty place in our lives. While on the surface this might seem all good, this change could create significant stress and anxiety if we don’t know how to fill the space. A Pandora’s Box full of issues, from intimacy to life purpose, may be next in line to be addressed once the familiar struggle is no longer there.

Listen to a Guided Healing Meditation

Listen to a Guided Healing Meditation

Click to hear the meditation


Healing Prayer

God (Goddess, Creator, Higher Power, Universal Spirit),
I turn to You with all my heart.
I joyously realize Your absolute presence.
I see You everywhere-in all places, all people,
all that is.
You breathe life and light into my very soul,
YOU who are Infinite Love.
Yes, I feel Your Presence-You live in me!
Thank you for the Divine Spark within.
God, You have said “Ask and it shall be given.”
I come to You now in gratitude and love
for Your assistance that is ever present.
Receive my prayer as an offering of faith that what I ask for has already been given and received.

(Take a moment to bring your prayer intention to mind. Speak it out loud or silently to yourself. Imagine handing all dis-ease and lack over to God, and God lovingly receiving it. Create a vivid inner experience of already having, doing and being your prayer request. And then hand this, too, over to God asking that Divine Will be done.)

Thank you, Divine Spirit!
I have faith in reality of Miracles!
I believe in the power of LOVE!
I release this intention into Your hands.
I surrender to Your will.
May the Divine Design now manifest!
I know I am whole and perfect as You made me.
There is nothing to be healed;
only DIVINE LOVE to be revealed.

Now I join with my brothers and sisters
as we speak to You in unity.
Our hearts join and overflow with Divine Love,
And we become a powerful channel for
Your Healing Work:

By the Grace of God, Divine Love now heals and guides
all those who have prayed for Your help!

By the Grace of God, Divine Love now heals and guides
every member of our personal communities!

By the Grace of God, Divine Love now heals and guides
all life on our earth!

Divine Spirit, spark our faith, hope and love into new action this day.
Our lives fill with gratitude, wonder and awe. Miracles happen.
We receive the blessing of Your perfect love and wisdom.
And with this prayer we now embrace the call
You gave us-to be spiritual beings,
in service to each other
and to You.

Listen to a Healing Prayer Meditation

Click to hear the meditation

Potential Healing Outcomes

Along with the expectation that healing will happen for you, also be open to it taking the form you most need, not necessarily the form you expect. Healing comes in whatever way best serves us and as you prepare yourself for a healing experience, trust that it will happen in the best way for you, not just the best you can currently imagine. Typical healing outcomes include:

  1. Spontaneous physical healing where manifestations of illness disappear instantly. In my own healing services as well as the distance healing work of my prayer ministry, I’ve seen many examples of a physical condition disappearing so completely and immediately that surgery or medication became no longer necessary. These occurrences seem to happen as often over distance as in person. On a night when my weekly group was experimenting specifically with dental healing, a woman with a painful dental condition who was unable to be there, just took a moment out from her other commitment to join her mind with the group work in order to receive healing. Not only did her tooth stop hurting, but she kept her scheduled dental appointment the next day just to be safe and the dentist could find nothing wrong.
  2. Attitudinal shifts such as feeling at peace even though circumstances haven’t changed, or seeing new options where choices had seemed limited. For example, a woman who attended a series of monthly healing services with me, first came wanting to heal the chronic pain she had lived with for years. The next month she appeared quite improved and reported that her pain hadn’t gone away but she did have an experience during the healing service of feeling happy for the first time in years. This happiness stayed with her all month and so changed her state of mind that her pain slipped from the foreground to the background of her awareness. She felt able to get on with her life in a whole new way and several months later, she reported that the pain was much diminished.
  3. A slow steady course of growth and healing where results may not be noticeable for some time (like planting a seed that grows invisibly at first). For example, another woman who had attended many healing services with me reported that a chronic condition of asthma had gone away and she didn’t even know it until she found herself in a situation that would have ordinarily triggered an attack. As she tried to remember the last time she’d had an asthma attack, she realized it had been many months.
  4. Circumstantial shifts that bring new conditions, opportunities or people into our lives. It’s very common for fortunate “coincidences” to occur within days of spiritual healing work. Jobs show up unexpectedly, money shows up, new relationships form, connections are made to the perfect medical help or healing practitioner, etc. These are things we might not see as directly connected to the healing we want yet they support the totality of our well-being in a way that serves us even more than the simple disappearance of a symptom.
  5. Relationship healing where specific relationships or relationship patterns shift to create deeper love, compassion, forgiveness and interpersonal harmony. I’ve often seen this happen with great serendipity, as with a woman whose estranged daughter called her after years of silence, just days after she’d talked about this painful situation in a healing service. Because the connection between love and healing is so strong, as our relationships heal, so do we.

It’s important to understand all the forms healing can take because it’s easy to come away feeling like nothing happened if we don’t get the outcome we had in mind. While we could participate in healing work and receive its benefits passively and unconsciously, it becomes far more powerful when we consciously recognize the positive results. Firstly, as we’re able to recognize the tangible results of our spiritual work, we have more faith in it, which makes it more effective. What’s more, when we recognize the subtle beginnings of healing, we’re more apt to nurture them and allow a small healing effect to grow into a greater one. Imagine if the woman with chronic pain dismissed her experience of happiness as momentary and insignificant and left the healing service disappointed that she still had pain. She might never have nurtured that new state of mind into a more fulfilling life that ultimately resulted in far less pain. Last but not least, any time we give grateful attention to our blessings in any form, we attract more opportunities to feel grateful. Recognizing healing is, in and of itself, a healing act.

Seven Key Elements of Healing

The following are some key elements that facilitate a powerful experience of healing with any of these methods. The first two are aimed specifically at the recipient in the healing interaction but many of these are equally applicable to the healer achieving an effective state for facilitating healing.

  1. Identifying a desire for healing: Identifying a desire for anything we wish to call forth is a creative act. It directs intention and focus toward this issue and starts healing energy moving in the direction of our intent.
  2. Identifying and releasing the payoffs of dis-ease: As last week’s lesson addressed in depth, as long as we need the payoffs of a painful condition, we will subconsciously hold it in place. Giving attention to how a condition is still serving us makes any form of treatment or healing more effective.
  3. Living in the moment in unconditional love: When Lawrence LeShan studied a large group of spiritual healers, as described in his classic book, The Medium, the Mystic, and the Physicist, he found the experience of deep caring to be common to all. In the words of one of his healers, “Only love can generate the healing fire.” This is also the essence of attitudinal healing which is all about letting go of the past and the future and simply amplifying love in the moment. In Gerald Jampolsky’s early experiments with this, he brought seriously ill children togeter with adult helping professionals to relate as peers, practicing these principles of unconditional love. What began simply as an exercise in creating a peaceful state of mind proved to facilitate healing miracles as children defied doctors’ prognoses and healed from terminal illnesses. Dean Ornish’s excellent book, Love and Survival pulls together decades of medical research documenting the connection between all different forms of love and physical healing. He concludes that, “love and intimacy are among the most powerful factors in health and illness.” Quite simply, every time we experience even an instant of unconditional love, inner peace, compassion and forgiveness, we’re in a powerful healing state. We heal ourselves and we become a healer to others as well.
  4. Faith: Faith isn’t a hope or wish for a future outcome. Rather, it’s the feeling of certainty that the future is going to be fine, no matter what. When we have faith, we’re free to be at peace in the present and able to let go of worry about the future. With hoping and wishing, we’re focused on what we don’t have and attach our peace of mind to a specific future outcome. It then becomes easy to vacillate between hope and fear and, consequently, lose our ability to be present and at peace. Ultimately, faith isn’t about trusting in an outcome; it’s a willingness to trust God and the process of life. Paradoxically, when we deeply trust we’ll be OK no matter what, we begin to attract miracles.
  5. Surrender: Surrender isn’t the same as giving up in defeat. The kind of surrender I’m suggesting here is a lightness of being, not about losing the battle, but about stepping out of the fight. So often we think of ourselves as “battling” a health condition and even use that very word. (Choose your words carefully as you speak about illness as they describe the reality we’re creating. Would you rather be battling cancer, suffering from cancer, living with cancer or healing from cancer? Think carefully of the implications because your words help shape your experience.) I once knew a woman who “battled” melanoma for fifteen years and finally became cancer free after weeks of working with the affirmation, “Thank you, God, for cancer.” The first thing she noticed, just days into this affirmation work and before there were any noticeable physical effects, was that for the first time she felt at peace with her disease. Every condition we battle is in some way serving us. Even if we don’t fully understand how, the more we accept the truth of this, the more swiftly we can release the struggle and pain. There’s an exercise I sometimes do in workshops where I have an individual who feels hopelessly stuck in some area of life invite people from the group to represent the various limiting messages she has going on in her own head. These helpers externalize and dramatize the person’s inner dialogue and what ensues is generally a noisy debate between the protagonist and her “voices.” At some point in this drama I ask the rest of the group to call to person, now locked in battle with her own demons, and see if they can entice her with offers of love and kindness. It’s fascinating to see how many people stubbornly hang on to the fight and find it more compelling than the breath of fresh air coming from beyond. There’s never an end to these battles. They could go on endlessly if I didn’t intervene and, even though fighting in the same old way doesn’t produce any new results, people keep at it as long as I let them. When I do finally step in, the protagonist typically says, “Yup, this is how I feel stuck in my life!”Eventually, many in this exercise discover that as much as they hate the battle, it’s energizing and seductively holds their attention. Some realize that battling their own self feels comfortably familiar, and safer than being fully available and intimate with another. Those who break free from this inner war don’t do it by “winning;” they do it by losing interest in it. They shift their attention from fighting what’s wrong to embracing love. The voices don’t go away; they just fade into the background and eventually wither from lack of attention. This is the power of surrender. It requires letting go of stubbornness, of being right, of trying to control the outcome, and stepping back from fighting whatever condition we love to hate.One last important word on surrender: it’s not to be confused with the highly debilitating states of passivity and depression. There are times when achieving a “fighting” state of mind is a good thing and supports healing. “Battling” is a big step up from hopeless despair, and early studies of mental attitude and illness showed that the more “difficult” cancer patients who fought their treatments and medical caregivers had a better survival rate than passive, “good” patients who just gave up and died. Sometimes getting mad is a step toward feeling alive. Surrendering to love is a next step, if and when we’re ready.
  6. Envision healing: Instead of waiting for healing, envision it. Any time your in a healing process and may be tempted to dwell on the evidence of your symptoms still there, vividly imagine them leaving or already gone. Build this envisioning into your daily routines. I knew a young woman with cancer who attached her healing imagery to the unavoidable act of peeing. At every opportunity, she imagined herself peeing out all the cancer cells in her body.
  7. Group Agreement: The opportunity to do healing work in a group offers some powerful advantages. Some healers have even noticed a higher proportion of healings in their group sessions than when working with people individually. There’s a powerful amplification of energy created when a group of minds join forces. Excitement, faith, and willingness to believe grow exponentially in groups and create fertile ground for miraculous outcomes. Individuals are propelled far beyond where they could go on their own steam alone. Even nonbelievers are more likely to experience dramatic results as the energy of the group becomes wave-like, lifting everyone.Group intention can literally suspend the rules of the natural world as we know them. For example, if you put your hand in fire, do you believe it would burn? Of course you do, and it would! But if you were to attend a fire-walking event and spent a few hours with a group of people convincing yourselves that the fire wouldn’t hurt, more than likely you’d successfully trot across a big bed of hot coals, unharmed.States of mind-over-matter that might take years of dedicated practice for an individual to achieve alone can be realized with phenomenal speed in a group, even by those who feel doubtful of the process or of their own ability to have a positive result. When people join together in an intention that reality is going to work differently, miraculously, it does. This even happens in groups that are separated by space or by time, as with my online classes and phone-in healings services. Quantum science and relativity theory have taught us that the fixed nature of space and time are as illusionary as the apparent solidity of the physical realm.

    We all have the power to heal and even if you don’t think of yourself this way, know that your sheer intention to help adds power to the whole. As Delores Krieger describes this in the context of therapeutic touch, “…from the moment one turns one’s attention to helping or healing another, an energetic interchange between those two people has already begun… The focusing of your intention gives explicit, although perhaps unconscious, direction to your energy flow.” So as you participate in a phone-in healing service or listen to a down-loaded meditation, know that you add power to every listener’s experience.

What is Spiritual Healing?

An Overview of Spiritual and Energetic Healing
There are countless methods for spiritual and energetic healing and the following offers some explanation of the different broad categories most healing approaches fall into. Some modalities require many sessions, some take just seconds. Many use different hand positions and specific manipulations, some involve no touch at all, and others are practiced over long distances. Some are designed to treat specific symptoms and some are aimed at changing our very DNA. Some are steeped in religious dogma, ritual and ancient traditions while others are founded in science. Here are a few basic styles of healing and what characterizes each of them.
Energy Healing

Energy healing works with an energetic field that permeates and extends beyond the physical body. Signs of illness show up in this field before manifesting as physical symptoms and with a little practice this “aura” can be experienced, even by a novice. While the awareness of an energy field has been an integral part of mainstream medicine in the Eastern hemisphere for thousands of years (with medical systems such as acupuncture being every bit as precise, specialized and effective as Western medical techniques), it’s a relatively new addition to Western ways of thinking.

Energy healing generally operates in much the same way as conventional medicine, by addressing symptoms, identifying energy blocks and areas of dysfunction, and moving energy around in specific, mechanical ways. The healer often visualizes transferring or channeling healing energy to the recipient, using energy in much the same way an MD uses medication, surgery and other treatment. Therapeutic Touch, a technique developed by nurse, Delores Krieger, Ph.D., R.N., is a well-known example of this approach that has become increasingly integrated into mainstream medicine since she introduced it into New York University’s nursing curriculum in the 1970’s. Her book, The Therapeutic Touch is an excellent introduction to the practice of energy healing.
Spiritual Healing

With spiritual healing, instead of moving energy around to address specific problem areas, the healer goes into a powerful state of unconditional love and has an experience of becoming one with the healing recipient. Rather than focusing on illness, the healer joins with the person’s spiritual self, where there is no illness. This powerful attention to the recipient’s intrinsic wellness helps call it forth. I think of this style of healing as “repatterning” rather than repairing.

Faith Healing

Faith healing doesn’t require that the healer “diagnose” energetically, direct energy, or be versed in a particular methodology. There may still be a focus on symptoms and on disappearing signs of illness but healing is performed by invoking the power of a higher spiritual source, as in Christian faith healing. Faith healers often describe their work as “prayer.”
Attitudinal Healing

Attitudinal healing is simply a shift in perspective that assumes illness to be illusionary and the spiritual essence of our being to be eternally whole and complete. Thus, by identifying with our spiritual wholeness rather than our physical dis-ease, we can feel at peace regardless of outer circumstances and often release physical symptoms of illness as well. The term “attitudinal healing” was coined by psychiatrist, Gerald Jampolsky to describe a philosophy he drew from A Course in Miracles and applied in his work with children and adults experiencing illness (there are now many Centers for Attitudinal Healing around the world based on Jampolsky’s modelÑGoogle “Center for Attitudinal Healing” to find out more) but there are numerous approaches to healing that give attention to attitude rather than illness. Some metaphysical paths even discourage healing practices altogether on the premise that the act of “healing” affirms the reality of illness and is counterproductive to achieving the greater reality that we are already perfectly whole.

The Common Denominator: Healing Follows Intention

All of these methods are very good at facilitating a peaceful state and all have been known to facilitate the spontaneous healing of physical illness, sometimes quite miraculously. Is one method better than another? I tend to think they’re like apples and oranges, different and useful in different ways. The key principle that makes them all work, even ones that seem to contradict one another, is that healing follows the intention of the healer. While healers may be using hands or voice in very specific ways to direct energy, invoking higher powers, using elaborate ritual or working within a framework of specific religious dogma, it’s their expectations, beliefs and envisioning of the healing process, along with their heart-felt caring, that are bringing about a healing response.