Updated: Mar 7, 2019
Something I fundamentally believe is that you heal yourself. No one else does it for you. Even if you believe in a deity, such as Jesus, being responsible for your ultimate salvation, you and you alone would have to choose to go along with that. In spite of what some researchers and philosophers say, I believe we all have some amount of free will.
If I am trying to facilitate someone’s self-healing, any healing that happens is because they are ready for it, want it, and contribute effort accordingly. I’ve found, for myself, that the necessary amounts of those requirements can vary a lot. There have been times when I was so ready for change and healing, that even if I didn’t consciously want it and put effort into trying to stop it, it still came when the time was ripe. And I’ve had times when I thought I wanted to heal, but no matter how hard I tried, it simply wouldn’t happen—*yet*—because I wasn’t ready for it. I can’t say that my efforts were or weren’t helpful. Sometimes I needed to exhaust myself before I was ready to look at things differently enough to be able to change. And I’ve definitely benefitted from the assistance of others as I’ve healed myself.
However, I know that the opposite can also occur. I’ve been relatively lucky to not have suffered too much of that, but I’ve experienced it. People who believe that they know better than anyone else. People who project instead of listening. People who trust their judgement and intuition to the point where they refuse to acknowledge anything that contradicts it. People who put themselves above others and act accordingly. Who don’t respect healthy boundaries. Who don’t operate from a place of love, though they might believe that they do. All of that is problematic enough in mundane interactions. When people operate like that while calling themselves teacher, healer, guru, master, etc., it really has the potential to do harm.
I want to share an example from my own life. Once, I decided to do Holotropic breathwork. That was a very nice experience for me, for many reasons. I don’t think it’s for everyone, but the group I did it with did an excellent job preparing everyone and holding space. But what I liked most was the commitment to not interfering with anyone else’s process. Everyone has a partner, and they take turns doing breathwork. Before either breathwork session, you establish your ground rules with that partner and choose signals you will use to ask for various things, like a tissue, hug, or assistance from group organizers. If someone starts to get physically active while doing their breathwork, group facilitators monitor to make sure they pose no threat to others and surround them with pillows to help corral them in. Apart from that, NO ONE INTERFERES with you unless you ask for something or previously told your partner to do something for you. People could be screaming at the top of their lungs or snot-nosed and tear-faced—but you leave them alone until they request you to do something. I found being a sitter during my partner’s breathwork to be a wonderful exercise in compassion and detachment. And I really loved the agency I had when it was my turn to breathe, as well as the respect the facilitators had for all of us and our ability to guide ourselves. I felt that everyone had as much or as little help as they wanted available to them.
Now I want to share a different experience I had. I decided to try another, much lesser known, type of breathwork. While I ultimately had a fair experience and healing on my own, I felt that that was in spite of what the organizers were doing. The preparations wasn’t good. Talk of boundaries and confidentiality was quick and superficial. It was a much larger group, though much less diverse somehow. In my Holotropic breathwork session, I think there were 15 participants at the most, with 3 group facilitators who had undergone extensive training. The other event also had 3 facilitators, 2 with little training and one being the creators of that style of breath work. Yet there were over 50 participants in our group. Quite a few people in that group said they were “groupies” of the creator, which that person did nothing to discourage. But the worst thing of all, to me, was that they were *constantly* interfering in my process. They didn’t seem to think I could do it without them. Although I’m not opposed to help, I was constantly touched without my consent or told to do something differently, even though from the beginning they said that we should follow our own pace and find the most comfortable position for us to breathe. They also said we should make noises if we felt like we needed to, but I was hushed and touched when I felt like I quietly needed to tone. Overall, I felt unempowered and violated at that event.
The two experiences, together, were educational. Anything can be training if you allow it to be. I learned more about how I would and wouldn’t like to be treated, which influences how I treat others. I’ve also learned to be more discerning in selecting events and guidance.
Part of healing yourself is figuring out how to. Figure out what’s true for you. What helps you and what harms you. Even if you rely on someone else’s help for almost every step of the way, make sure it aligns with you. And if it doesn’t resonate, pay attention. Approach it with curiosity. Whether a thing’s right or wrong for you is always your call. I’m not claiming that a lack of resonance means something is wrong—but that feeling points to something that is worth looking into. Don’t discount your own feelings in favor of someone else’s certainty. Find your power and walk in it. Don’t walk in the shadow of someone else’s. Anyone who truly walks in *their own* power will not be threatened by you walking in yours. They will welcome it wholeheartedly.