Articles & Reviews
What Heals, How Do We Grow?
By Niyaso Carter
Every human being is inherently good and beautiful, and even though their action may seem strangely contradictory, every being is striving toward understanding of their deeper nature and desiring to move toward light, God, wholeness, enlightenment or whatever you want to call it.
All the human drama is just steps along the way. Knowing this, however, doesn’t always make the human drama/trauma any easier to deal with, as I’m sure many of you have experienced first hand many times. How many of you have struggled with a particular situation knowing full well that there must be an easier way to be with it, and yet you didn’t find the way through. Sometimes it’s merely slightly annoying and other times we feel like we are trapped in hell. That’s the human experience. There is a lot of glossing over, distracting and pretending that can happen along the journey in the name of non-attachment and transformation, but that’s missing the true beauty, aliveness and depth of the process of life. Besides, many of the tricks we learn to cope with and survive life only work temporarily; even though temporary could mean a lifetime or more. So what heals and how do we grow? Being in the profession of helping people with their journey, as well as being a journeyer myself (sometimes a struggling one), this has always been one of the most significant questions for me personally and professionally. The best and simplest definition that I’ve ever come across of what a therapist, teacher, healer or guide is meant to be, is the following phrase by Abram Kardiner quoted by Judith Lewis Herman in her book Trauma and Recovery: “The role of the therapist is that of an assistant to the client, whose goal is to help the client do the job that he/she is trying to do spontaneously.” What’s implied here is that our being knows how to heal. Our body, our nervous system and our psyche have the innate ability to restore health and well-being given time and the appropriate support. Our soul is naturally seeking wholeness. I especially like the phrase”being an assistant to the client,” putting my skills and resources at the disposal of the client but always honoring the fact that the client is in charge of their own process. Given enough space and support they probably know better what they need than I do.
A good therapist or guide, in my eyes, is someone who is a good listener and never insists that he/she is right. Making suggestions, offering possibilities, of course, but never forcefully pushing their concepts and opinions no matter how right or valuable they might be. No two people are alike, no two situations are the same and everyone’s journey is unique.The person and their experience is always more important than any concept of what might help them. Our souls have their own timetable and we as healers are only here to support and ease the way. What heals? How do we grow? What’s the way to wholeness? have also been key questions in most spiritual traditions since time immemorial. The whole master disciple relationship was centered around them. Now with modern day complexities, these questions are even more meaningful. It was a little easier in the 60’s and 70’s when there really weren’t all that many different workshops and teachers available. We all just went for what was new and exciting; everything was worth a try. And so we grew. And now here we are in the 90’s and what’s being offered has grown too. Certainly the variety is immense. “What do you think heals?” is a good question to ask the therapists and teachers you want to go to or whose workshop you’re considering joining. Especially when you are feeling vulnerable, it’s a difficult time to go out there and seek help; chances are you will find only too many people who want to give you their answer and advice instead of listening and supporting you until you find your own way. I’ve had all kinds of experiences myself in trying to get help. Many very good ones, fortunately, and some total disasters also. One danger in the growth movement is the quick-fix mentality; just like fast-food is quite tasty, this may give you lots of experience in the moment but maybe not always much nourishment or integration. We all like the idea of all our troubles gone forever in one big bang, and so we are attracted to experiences that promise this – but that’s not necessarily how things work. One of my teacher’s slogans is “slow is faster” , and I’ve seen the validity of her words many times. Sometimes taking lots of time to relax, breathe and build safety is like fertilizing the ground before the flowers can blossom. In ancient times, every village or culture had their elders, shamans and wise women, and they were available for everyone in times of spiritual, emotional or physical need. That’s how wisdom and spiritual understanding were passed on. It was an absolutely crucial part of the social structure that kept everyone nurtured and in touch with the depth of life. I view today’s workshops as much-needed modern day mystery schools; the 20th century evolvement of ancient day teachings, rituals and rites of passage. In the development of the Sacred Loving workshops over the many years we’ve led them now, we’ve created such a learning context; a space where people are honored and deep growing can take place. To be a conscious (or an educated) consumer in the new age world of spirituality and enlightenment is no easy task, as you are seeking to find someone who sees you more clearly than you can yourself. Since there is much to choose from, my simplest suggestion to you for choosing well where you go, is to give yourself permission to ask questions, as many questions as you want, and then to let your heart guide you.