Allow yourself to heal, grieve, emote, release, and even cry. You cannot heal the wound you do not acknowledge.
Archetypes are recurrent symbols that offer spiritual advice to men and women as we travel the journey of life. This is the eleventh in a 12-part series, in which this ancient wisdom is made relevant both to ecumenical (book) religions and to the non-spiritual as well through real life examples and everyday application.
While I highly encourage a spiritual path, as it feeds the soul, this wisdom will resonate regardless because it is within our bones and sinew as men. Twelve is a very significant number in spiritual circles. There are 12 months, 12 signs of the Zodiac, Jesus had 12 disciples, 12 indicates a complete cycle.
As we complete our cycle through the archetypes, we will experience the ancient wisdom offered to us around manhood. Whether you are gay, straight, bi, curious, confused, trans, married, unattached, looking, or fearful, this wisdom has the power to meet you where you are and help you experience the slice of divine that is you, as a man.
“I need to do some healing around that.”
In our modern society, you might hear this concept often, especially in new age circles. Although it’s not as often heard in ecumenical circles, it is a reality for many people. Spiritual and emotional healing is an important part of the growth process. Relaxation, taking time away from work and tasks, bathing, and even sleep are all parts of healing or recharging.
Most men are familiar with the necessity of healing from sports. Ice baths, heat pads, and massages all contribute to more rapid healing and muscle repair. If strength training, you know that leaving 24 hours for your muscles to recover is essential and is a form of healing.
For most men (myself often included), it is easier for us to take a day away from the gym and to let our muscles heal than it is for us to take the necessary steps to heal ourselves emotionally and spiritually. This healing time, though, is the cornerstone to all the spiritual work you might do. The effects on your life may seem subtle but will have massive results in how you are with others and yourself.
The archetype of the Healer is someone to whom, in your spiritual path, you may wish to return from time to time in order to take advantage of its unique restorative energies and encouragement. When we begin our spiritual work, the need to heal certain wounds becomes immediately clear. Often, it is those scabbed emotional wounds that kick-start spiritual development.
In 2009, thanks to an emotional crisis, I found myself in weekly therapy. The next three years would be dominated by healing events, memories, and hurts that I was uncovering from years before that seemed to have slipped away from me but that I had subconsciously stored until overflowing. Don’t be afraid of this process—open yourself to it. You don’t have to examine every problem and trauma at once. It takes time, and the healing occurs in layers. The more you work on the pain–the more you commit to the work–the more you learn and the less you feel those wounds as they finally begin to seal up.
Why We Need the Healer
The archetype of the Healer is crucial in our lives because we have areas that need tending when it comes to healing.
Our Body and Mind
We all have past issues worthy of reflection and healing. Whether it is a damaging relationship with an ex-partner or negative, unwanted thoughts rattling around in the brain, the Healer can help clear that.
Men tend to hang on to hurts—from the small slings and arrows to the very real wounds. Over time, that begins to build up and weigh us down. A lack of healing can manifest itself in a variety of ways, but addiction is one of the biggest culprits. Look into the eyes of an alcoholic, and usually, if you scratch the surface, you’ll find that the source of that behavior is an unhealed wound.
Imagine going through life with an open wound on your body. You wouldn’t live very long and it would fester and fill with infection. Why would we allow that when by treating it, we could prevent that pain? We cannot live, thrive, be present, nor be the men we need to be if we cannot take the necessary time to heal emotional wounds.
Relationships are probably the hardest to heal because inner work is only the first step. The second step is to approach the other person and address the problem (s) that are at issue. Whether it is your partner on a financial matter or your father on the past or lack of a relationship; you can do it if you can arrive there with compassion, kindness, and empathy, which are all at the very core of the Healer archetype.
When a relationship ends, allowing your spirit to heal is vital. When you have shared your life with someone and that sharing comes to an end, there is always hurt and pain. Rather than running to the next person that strikes your fancy, take the time to do the real healing work around the relationship that has just passed. Some men think their healing will be complete as soon as the next condom gets rolled on. That’s simply not the case. Healing takes place in our bodies, our minds, and our souls. Let all of those heal before taking on a new relationship, even if it’s just for an evening.
I encourage patience. Take a week for every month, and a month for every year. Learn your space again, whether that is playing video games in your underwear while eating Coco Puffs or enjoying your favorite activities solo. Regardless, let that time pass. You will be able to get everything (emotion, anger, sorrow) out of your system, and on the other side you will have peace, confidence, and calm. You will also be ready and emotionally available for your next relationship.
Our Body and Mind
The Healer is also a lesson in physical self-care. One of the hardest lessons I learned in graduate school was self-care. I made the fortunate mistake of doing both my B.A. and M.A. in 4.5 years. However, it almost killed me, twice, due to my quite severe asthma and a regular smoking habit at the time. I was in the hospital twice, including a near death experience. I learned a valuable lesson; I could not go on if I didn’t take care of myself physically, so I quit smoking (by and large) and I started working out. Most importantly, I slept for more than four hours per night and started to take weekends off.
In short, I learned how to let the wondrous bio-chemical machine that is my body heal in a real way that allowed it to perform rather than jump from emergency repair to emergency repair. That holds a powerful lesson for us. Too often 60-80 hour work weeks with no vacations become the norm. Not only is it unhealthy for our relationships, it is unhealthy for our long-suffering bodies. They are amazing machines and they allow us to do so much! All that stress causes problems from weight gain to exacerbating chronic conditions.
We need to heal our bodies by getting enough sleep to allow the machine to rest, the chemicals to settle, and the mind to process the events of our lives. The best part is that healing leads to optimal performance. Rather than spend your money on a drink or a pill, just be kind to yourself.
The Healer is here to remind us to experience the healing force and to above all: Be kind
- Be kind to your physical body
- Be kind to your mind
- Be kind to your relationships
This is where the deep inner journey is so important. Healing the soul’s wounds and past traumas can be daunting. Most men avoid it. I did for along time. I concealed my own inner pain until I had a nervous breakdown (which you can read about here) and I reached out to a therapist for help (in full disclosure my girlfriend at the time did pretty much force me to go).
Whether it’s seeing a therapist, seeking spiritual council, finding help from clergy, or walking in the woods in deep reflection on a regular basis, (possibly while hunting which can be very therapeutic for those violent feelings and also produces a great meal) it is important to do something that lets the old energies out and for new energies to infuse your body, mind and soul.
In all areas of our life we need to be kind, and it starts inside ourselves. Managing our thinking is one of the hardest problems to solve but is also a big part of success, particularly on the emotional side of life. Having unwanted thoughts is one of the many signs that can conspire to demonstrate real clinical psychological problems. In the most important moments in our lives, sometimes our own brains can betray us with the worst self-defeating talks and conversation.
“I can’t do this.”
“I’ll never measure up.”
“He/She can’t really love me.”
“I don’t deserve her/him.”
“What are you going to do if they find out who I really am?”
When you find those thoughts, there are several healing options. You can save the thoughts for meditation where you can evaluate what motivates them. You can visualize packing them up and sending them away into the universe. You can write them down and then recycle the paper. The more you bring those thoughts into your reasonable mind, the sooner you can stop them. Healing occurs when you counter these thoughts with positive thoughts or affirmation.
Healing others is a powerful gift. When you can talk to your friend or co-worker and they “feel better” that is a form healing! Using what power you have energetically or with a listening ear is a form of healing and is vital to people around you. Every one of us is a Healer. Whether you are wrapping up someone’s physical wound or helping a buddy through his divorce, don’t underestimate your own healing powers. From your own healing process, you can heal others.
Getting the Life you Want
The most amazing part is how much your life will change after the healing process. I’m not here to say that the healing process is easy. Just as sometimes we have to do surgery (harming ourselves more) to eventually heal our disease, the healing process can sometimes feel like things are getting worse. But if you can go through it, you can be truly present on the other side.
I repeat that often, but I can’t express how important it is. It might seem like right now that you’re doing okay, but if you’re committed to improvement and having the life that you want, healing is a crucial first step. When we heal, we become whole again. We can reclaim the lost parts of ourselves that others have taken or damaged along the road of life.
Comment below with how you want to heal, what you find helpful, or what you want to try in your own healing process.
Image credit: iandeth/flickr