Healing is a ‘process’, or at least that is what we are told.
And it’s true that actual physical and mental healing can take considerable amounts of time: recovery from cancer, a car accident, or chronic disease are all experiences that may require and involve long time recuperation and intensive therapies of many different types.
However, this process does not need to take years off your life, nor be the result of hours of psychoanalysis and a cornucopia of notes written by your trauma therapist or health practitioner.
Healing on some level is possible right now, in this present moment, when we are encouraged to develop the presence of mind to see the opportunities.
Whilst our physical ailments may be very real and the accompanying mental and emotional fallout can be screaming in our heads so loud it is hard to ignore, there is something we can all do that is seemingly so simple and yet brings instantaneous relief.
Thich Naht Hanh has, over the last forty and more years, become the father of Mindfulness and Mindful Meditation. The refreshingly simple approach of this Zen Buddhist Master has brought relief and freedom to many and, essentially, all you have to do is sit and breathe.
Okay, so it’s not as easy as it sounds but once you get the hang of it - boy does it work!
And how does it work?
The monastics of Thich Naht Hanh’s Plum Village Tradition have many beautiful meditations on their App which encourage us to sit in a comfortable upright position, calm your thoughts and breathe. Sure thing, I breathe all the time so what’s the big deal? And as for calming my thoughts you and I both know our thoughts are dodging this way and that, arguing with the man at the bus stop, worrying about what a colleague at work just said, or fretting about what I'm going to cook for supper. Fat chance of sitting quietly and breathing! Hah! Bah Humbug!
But whilst listening to one of the PlumVillage.app guided meditations something miraculous happens, a delightful yet grounded voice tells me “As you breathe in, you are aware this is an in breath; as you breathe out, you are aware this is an out breath.” Crikey! Suddenly I’m not all over the place. Five or six breaths later I find that my breath really is becoming deeper and slower. Gradually all the noise in my head starts to calm, my body begins to ease. Yikes, I could get hooked on this – it’s a great feeling!
I’ve tried loads of different meditation resources and got so hacked off with spookily eerie manufactured music and a sickly sweet voice, whilst my thoughts, worries and fears come crashing in!
However, The Plum Village App carefully carries us along with key words to hold the attention and keep us on track as we develop our meditation muscles! Yep, I’m aware I’m breathing in and yes, as I breathe out I really am smiling.
Many of us carry a vast, turbulent array of different life challenging situations, but again and again I find that it is not the circumstances or situation that are the problem so much as my thoughts about them. When I calm my mind by concentrating on what is happening right here in the present moment, there arises some space in my head that allows me to relax and, when that happens, it is possible to see life in a different and wider perspective and to gain insights that were previously unavailable.
And so, healing can be achieved on various levels. Firstly, in the present moment; the relief from shutting up the incessant drone in one’s head brings instant benefits. Secondly, the calm experienced allows the body to heal more efficiently on a physical and cellular level. And thirdly, by approaching our pain in all its forms with clarity allows us to engage with a whole range of different methodologies and practices which are life affirming and supportive for our overall health and wellbeing.