I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be in the role of a healer and what it means to heal as a person in this world. The books “Medicine Woman” by Lucy H. Pearce and “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron have been part of my reading the last few weeks. Both of the authors have made me think a lot about what are the conditions that allow for healing – it seems to me that the conditions that created a wound can not be the same conditions in which healing occurs.
In her book, Lucy Pearce defines healing as a restoration to sound health – sharing its roots with the term wholeness; the restoration of health is a creative act, alchemy. Author Julia Cameron goes on to state that creativity flourishes when we have a sense of safety and self-acceptance – our artist, our small child is happiest when feeling a sense of security; toxic playmates can capsize our growth.
This may sound a little “woo-woo” for some but neuroscience confirms that an overactive stress response (which most of us have in this society, especially given the fact that there is a global pandemic occurring amongst other things) is not conducive to healthy functioning. Georgetown University researcher and professor, Dr. Elizabeth Stanley states that chronic worriers actually have thicker amygdalae (part of the brain that triggers your fight – flight – freeze -fawn responses) and that the thinking part of our brain tends to go on autopilot with worry, mind wandering or spacing out, and multitasking.
Guess what happens in multitasking?
Your attention toggles back and forth with less accuracy. Ever been working on something and keep checking your phone? After a while, you don’t know what you were doing anymore.
There’s more – multitasking can cause declines in attention, memory, and cognitive switching speeds.
Wait – I’m not done yet! Multitasking affects your Anterior Cingular Cortex (known as the ACC) which impacts impulsivity, sensation-seeking behavior, challenges regulating emotions, and processing new information.
I think our society is a pretty good reflection of all this, especially if you watch the news.
So how do we interrupt these cycles? We can not heal wounds in the same conditions that created them – internally and externally.
This means, slooooooowwwwing down. I know there is a lot to do but I invite you to explore how can you create a safe place for your inner child to come out to play, to be seen, to be heard, to be loved? That little child that is in all of us needs and deserves care – or else we may have a raging and destructive teenager on our hands and that certainly is not helpful.
What does a little time just for you look like? Sometimes we have to start small – it can be really scary to dial down the intensity. Think about it as a little investment in yourself, so that you can show up in your life with a little more intentionality and peace. Healing begins with you – go for a walk, meditate, pray, cook (for fun), draw, play, sing, dance, go to therapy, read, do some yoga.
Find what works for you – because peace begins with you and me, and god knows we all need it.