In my life, two major (health-related) events have catalyzed my quest for learning very detailed ‘stuff’ about my own body and various healing modalities and medicines.

The first were a handful of pretty bad knee injuries that weren’t getting better with conventional therapies (actually the knee pieces got fixed really well, it was the rest around it that was the tricky part). The second was being struck with an uncomfortable bout of skin eczema.

The former was in 2001, the latter in 1997.

Now in 2011 I am dealing with another bout of eczema. After ‘thinking’ I could simply modify my diet, breath, visualize and use it as a ‘learning’ experience for my psyche, it became very clear that I needed some outside guidance and help. A boost. A catalyst. Something! Perhaps this basic need to actually ask for help was what I needed the most. And so I did. I sought refuge in the familiar. Something that helped me back in 1997 the first time around:  Chinese herbs. (and, the diet, breathing and visualization is still happening, and helping…)

In re-visiting such familiar territory, I decided to re-read the first book that really spoke to me about alternative methods of healing and may have given me some clues to seek out traditional Chinese medicine in the first place; “Spontaneous Healing” by Dr. Andrew Weil.

When I first read Dr.Weil’s book I was purely a recipient of the information. By this I mean I was not well and needed guidance. This past September 2010, when my skin flared up I was classified back into this niche, but there was a huge difference. Mainly that now, ten years later, I too am one of those that help people in need. Did it today. Doing it tomorrow. It is my ‘work’. I am what Dr. Weil would classify as ‘an alternative form of medicine’ and I practice ‘a modality that can’t be explained scientifically but just works. ” In simpler terms, I am what he might call a ‘healer’.

Perhaps I’ve helped people recover from some serious injuries and freaky things that don’t resolve with conventional treatment; but does this a healer make? I am not so convinced. I suppose it could be up for debate.

What I do know is this:

First, I abhor this word ‘healer’. Second, simply leaving your health to a healer, is just like leaving your health to a pill or *quick fix. Third, true healing (my opinion) happens when you aren’t in the presence of any one particular individual, but rather when you take what you have learned from that individual, or individuals and apply it ‘free-will’-style.

*I will give the quick fix one plug: For me the greatest healers in my life have not been the ones that relax and calm me down. They’ve been the conventional medical ones where I am actually in a hospital with artificial light, IV drips of antibiotics pumping through my veins: they are the many orthopaedic surgeons (4 in total) who have reconstructed my knee ligaments and pieced my kneecap back together when it broke in half. Of course such environments are stressful to the system, but without these modern advancements I’d be a cripple and potentially without a left lower leg.

Playing “Healer”

Dr. Weil writes about this notion of ‘healers’ in the first few chapters of his book. He writes about the myriad of ways that he human system can heal and be well again. I doubt this excerpt below – which I read for the first time back in ’97 – resonated with me like the way it did last Friday morning while waiting for my caramelized banana pancakes and bacon to become perfected and ready to eat:

“Over the years that I have been writing and speaking in public I have received hundreds and hundreds of testimonials….In these accounts patients have sun the praises of an astonishing variety of therapies: herbs (familiar and unfamiliar), particular foods and dietary regimens, vitamins and supplements, drugs (prescriptions, over-the-counter and illegal), acupuncture, yoga, biofeedback, homeopathy, chiropractic, surgery, prayer, massage, psychotherapy, love, marriage, divorce, exercises, sunlight, fasting and on and on….Testimonials are important pieces of evidence.

They are not necessarily testimony to the power or value of particular healers and products. Rather, they are testimony to the human capacity for healing.

But, back to my skin conundrum,

The Chinese doctor I am seeing is astounded by how quickly my skin is clearing up, especially in the middle of Winter when such afflictions are tough and stubborn to respond. Considering how awful it was only one month ago, I am too quite amazed. Apparently many of his patients with similar symptoms and similar treatments, aren’t budging in their recovery.

I wonder why? What am I doing that is different from them? Perhaps the diet, breath and visualizations do work (quite certain they are).

More importantly: What are these folk NOT doing that I am?

Why do some people get better and others don’t? After all, I am still eating greasy bacon accompanied by sugar-laden pancakes? Perhaps it is the guilt-free joy in eating them accompanied by the loving person making them for me?

Doctors, shamans, body workers and shrinks, they (we) are merely the catalyst. The real life enzyme. We help unlock the parts, pieces and places, whether physical, emotional, cellular, or “D” all of the above. That’s all. The real work happens in the person and their openness and willingness to take the next step and become their own healer. And, actively try other things when the first choice, or second, or third thing doesn’t work.

These people are their own curators, as I like to put it.

But sometimes, we need some co-curators to ramp up our experience, our learning, and dislodge that which is not budging, even when we have the best well-greased and working intentions on board.

I just shared a few of my co-curators with you (asking for help, chinese medicine; specifically herbs, mind-body techniques learned over the past 15 years, guilt-free eating),

we need them – what are yours?


A Few Resources To Share:

Spontaneous Healing: How to Discover and Embrace Your Body’s Natural Ability to Maintain and Heal Itself by Dr. Andrew Weil

Healing with Whole Foods. Oriental Traditions and Modern Nutrition by Paul Pitchford

The “Chinese” doctor I’ve been seeing isn’t Chinese at all.  You can find Dr. Trevor Erikson at Acubalance Wellness Centre in Vancouver and Langley British Columbia. He specialized in dermatology and infertility.