"Who, if I cried, in the hierarchy of angels would hear me?" Rainier Maria Rilke

What is Healing? Radical and Mostly Useless Thoughts.

Leave a comment

This is a funny question for me to pose. I work in the healing arts, both as a massage therapist and as an energy worker. One of the questions that we were asked in massage school has never left me: “What is your vision of what you do and how it fits into society as a whole? Are you healing people who can afford it as a luxury service, or are you part of a larger picture of creating a healthier community and making massage available to all?” Most of us answered this question practically for ourselves by sheepishly allowing that we would mostly work on those who could afford us, and appease our consciences by doing some pro bono work for the less fortunate. We bemoaned the system which made it so, that the people who most need massage often have least access to it, but we did not fight that system as it paid our bills. A lingering discomfort with these stark realities informs our work for many of us.
Many of us give away a fair amount of work to those who cannot afford it at all, but more often we simply shrug our shoulders and give up.
My question about healing is this: Does it really constitute healing if it only treats the privileged few, and does not address larger societal ills? Are anyone’s illnesses really in a vacuum and particular to them? Can I help with caretaking the many people I am suddenly hearing have cancer without also becoming active in working against the poisoning of our water and air and food? Who has time for all this holistic, systemic thinking and action?
Is it healing to alleviate symptoms, or only if you address causes? Is it in fact my job to patch people back up from tendonitis and carpal tunnel so that they might go back to mindless 12 hour days of keyboarding in the service of industries which are destroying the planet?
These are the things I wonder when I drive by people camping in tents in winter under a freeway underpass on my way to do massage on executives and highly paid IT workers. They have not changed over the years, but my faith that by doing my small part I move society towards a healthier place has taken a beating.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s