My friend Mark has been a physician for over 40 years. Recently he told me a story that helped me understand what real healing is.
While Mark was vacationing in Maui, his nephew, a younger man vacationing in Honolulu, had a heart attack. Upon learning this, Mark flew to Honolulu and sat with the nephew’s distraught wife in the Intensive Care Unit for 24 hours, until her husband had stabilized. Mark went not in his capacity as a doctor, but as a friend.
As Mark recounted this story, I recognized the distinction between a doctor and a healer. A doctor treats symptoms. A healer treats the soul. Mark’s commitment to the well-being of his nephew and his wife went far beyond fixing the man’s body. His intention was to soothe their souls.
Of course doctors, like Mark, can be healers, too. When the two vocations show up in the same person, you have a divinely appointed combination. If you are such a healer, you are blessed, and so are your patients.
Another friend of mine, Don, is a radio personality who has hosted his popular show for many years. In addition to playing hit songs, he daily reads an inspirational message on the air. He is known and loved in his community.
Recently Don went through a severe bout with depression. One day he revealed to his radio listeners that he was depressed and having a tough time. A few days later Don received a letter from a psychiatrist who is the director of a psychiatric hospital. She told Don, “Thank you for courageously sharing about your current emotional challenge. I know this can be a very difficult process to go through. I am certain that you helped many of your listeners who are dealing with the same experience, giving them permission to authentically express their feelings, the first step to healing. I have enjoyed your show for many years, especially the inspirational quotes you share. I hope you will continue to progress and feel better.”
When Don sent me a copy of her letter, I was touched. This person, obviously busy in a position of high importance, did not have to take the time and caring to send Don such a supportive letter. But she did. I told Don, “This woman is a real healer.”
Regardless of your profession, the vision you hold of your clients makes all the difference in how successful you will be with them, and the amount of personal satisfaction you receive from your work. If you see customers as bodies or dollars only, you will operate at a very shallow level of existence. You can get results and make money, but in your quiet moments your soul will ache and you will wonder what you are doing with your life. If, on the other hand, you recognize that your customers are so much more than their bodies or what they can pay you, you have the golden key to success. Within the body lives a spiritual being who yearns to be acknowledged and supported. Pay attention to that person’s inner self, and you will sleep well at night, make a contribution to the world, and your material needs will be met.
Doctors are busy and have many pressures and demands. Most doctors really want to help their patients, and they do. They hear about people’s problems all day long, which can be daunting and cause a physician to become impersonal. Yet, the creation and maintenance of relationships, however brief, is the building block of real satisfaction.
A Sufi story tells of a poet who went to a doctor and complained of all kinds of physical symptoms. “I don’t sleep well, I get headaches, I have this rash,” and on and on.
The doctor asked the poet, “Have you recited your latest poem yet?”
“No, I haven’t.”
“Then would you please recite for me?” The poet did so. “How do you feel now?” the doctor asked.
“Much better,” replied the poet.
All healing is not as simple as reciting one’s latest poem, but the dynamic of recognizing and honoring the needs of a client’s soul is a much greater element of healing than most doctors recognize. What’s happening in our body is intrinsically linked to what’s happening in our mind. Richard Bach said, “Your body is your thoughts in a form you can see.” To really be healed, we cannot simply address the symptoms. We must address the source of disease, which always has something to do with a blockage or imbalance of our life force, and denying our spiritual expression. Restoring that expression leads the restoration of physical health.
Doctors are instruments of God. The doctors I most remember are those who have touched my soul. We all have the capacity to heal each other and ourselves at the deepest level, and we must. Let us meet where we really live.