Read an Excerpt
my big book of healing
restore your body, renew your mind, and heal your soul
By Echo Bodine
Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc.Copyright © 2008 Echo Bodine
All rights reserved.
Opening to the Healing Journey
The experience of illness is a call to a genuinely religious life. In that sense, it is for many people one of the best things that ever happened to them.
Like most people who have read the Bible, I knew about the miraculous healings performed by Jesus. So when I was told at the age of seventeen that I had the gift of healing, I assumed that people would be instantly and miraculously healed when I laid my hands on them. Yet, as I look back over the past forty-two years of performing spiritual healing, I have seen very few such instant healings. Of course, one explanation for this is that I am not Jesus. But there is another reason too—one that is the focus of this book. Healing is a process that involves much more than the physical body. It must occur at many different levels—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual—for us to be truly healed.
Judy Pearson, one of my former spiritual teachers, introduced me to the idea that most illnesses have emotional roots. She taught me that if we don't address our emotions when we feel them, and if we stuff them instead of expressing them, they won't just go away but will stay inside our bodies and slowly turn into physical problems. Unexpressed feelings and unresolved emotions have no other way to get our attention than for the body to become sick or be in pain.
At first this concept was difficult for me to accept. I was raised with the belief that disease and illness are just a matter of luck. If we are lucky, we don't get sick. Illness randomly strikes us, and there is little or nothing we can do about it except to see a doctor. Worse yet is the belief, held by many, that disease is a form of punishment that comes from God. Judy helped me see that none of these explanations were quite accurate, that we aren't just poor souls who happen to be unlucky and get sick. She was inferring that we each have a role in creating our state of health.
In my practice as a spiritual healer and psychic, I have learned a great deal about people and their health challenges. Above all, I have seen that there are many and varied reasons that we experience such challenges. For most of us, illness can be a tremendous teacher. For some, it is a way to make an exit from life here on Earth.
I am continually reminded of what I have learned from Judy and writers such as Louise Hay and Alice Steadman, whose excellent books have helped me to change my thinking (see You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hay, and Who's the Matter with Me, by Alice Steadman). Their work has helped me to see that I don't have to be a victim who is always asking why life is doing this to me, challenging my health or placing problems in my path; rather, I can start thinking in terms of what I can do to have more choices about my health.
Through my work and the changes I have experienced in my own healing journey, I am continually made aware that most illnesses do have emotional roots and until we look at the unresolved emotions in our lives, our health challenges cannot permanently disappear. We may get temporary relief from a healer, a drug, or even a surgical procedure. Our health challenges may go into remission. The physical pain may stop. But if we don't address the emotions behind an illness, it will remain in our body, only to rear its ugly head at some time in the future.
That's what your healing journey is about: the unresolved emotional pain from the time you were born until today, and what you can do about it. You will learn how to expel all the harmful things you are storing in your body so they can no longer affect your physical health or influence your life in a negative way. Whatever you are storing is keeping you stuck in one way or another. You can go to all the doctors, healers, and health practitioners you want. You can say affirmations until you are blue in the face. You can even pray for miracles. But unless you are willing to feel the unresolved conflicts and pain, explore the negative belief systems, listen to the voice inside, and heal the hurt from your past, you will staystuck. It's all in there. Your whole history is in your body, and it needs to come out to be dealt with consciously.
In the pages ahead, we will look at issues from this lifetime. We will also look at possible solutions, such as what to do if you are sick now, whether it be having therapy, finding a good medical doctor, connecting with an appropriate support group, exploring alternatives in healthcare; or learning more about prayer, meditation, affirmations, forgiveness, and intuition; or finding out how to make new choices in your life that will better support your healing process. We will even explore how to just bring more fun into your life.
As you read this book, and as you do the journal work that it suggests, remind yourself from time to time that this is your journey. It is an exciting one. At times it will be painful. But just remember that the pain, which you may experience as you go along, is now sitting in your body. Once you are able to release it, truly release it, you will be free of it forever!
Our illnesses can be our best teachers, guiding us not only to a new freedom from pain but to a better way to live our lives, to a fuller realization of the passion of our true gifts. Allow the process to unfold, and receive whatever it is you need to accept your gifts and yourself. This is perhaps the greatest purpose of the healing journey.
As you embark on this incredible journey, remember that healing does not happen overnight. For most of us, our pain began long ago. When we are able to stay mindful of this and give ourselves all the time we need to do the work, we find the freedom we need to thrive as the children of God that we are.CHAPTER 2
Illness: A Wakeup Call
Fearful as reality is, it is less fearful than evasions of reality.
What would you do if a red light on the dashboard of your car suddenly went on, indicating that something was wrong? Would you wait a few days and hope that the problem resolves itself, in the meantime driving the car? Would you cover up the light with black tape so that you could no longer see it? Or would you take the car to a person who could diagnose the problem and fix it?
When your body has something wrong with it, it has one sure way of letting you know: pain. Pain is the body's red warning light. What do you do when the red warning light of pain goes on in your body? Do you wait a few days and hope that the problem will go away? Do you cover it up with pain medication (like putting black tape over the red light on your car)? Or do you pay attention to your body's signals, finding someone who can isolate the cause of the pain and help you get better?
Do you know how many different kinds of pain the body can have? Dull, sharp, throbbing, stabbing, loud, quiet, knifelike (dull or sharp), aching, burning, biting, piercing, severe, stinging, bruising, tender, irritating, inflamed, itching. The body has lots of little voices to tell you when something is wrong. I'm not referring to those slight aches and pains we all have now and then, but to those warning signals that last three days or longer. When the body has a minor pain that lasts more than three days, it needs to be taken seriously. This generally agrees with most medical advice, the three-day period giving your body time to heal itself, after which it may require some additional help. Something is wrong, and your body is trying to get your attention.
Unfortunately, many of us don't take our bodies seriously when they are talking to us. Here are some of the excuses I have heard from clients and friends:
1. I'm too busy to take the time to find out what's wrong.
2. I don't want to be inconvenienced by doctor appointments.
3. I don't want to burden anyone, particularly the doctor.
4. I'm afraid that the doctor won't find anything wrong, and I'll be told it's all in my head.
5. I don't want to hassle with the doctor bills.
6. I don't want to take time off from work.
7. I don't trust doctors.
8. I don't want to know what's wrong.
9. I will go only if my insurance company will pay the bills.
10. The pain isn't that bad.
What do you do when your body is sending you warning signals? Is the care you give your body as good as the care you give your car? Have you noticed that you will always find time to fix your car, but often neglect seeing a doctor due to your "busy schedule"? I can just hear some of you saying, "But that's different! I need my car to get around." Yes, but how far are you going to go without a healthy body?
The Importance of Being Still
There are reasons we suffer from pain and illness. Illness is a way for us to get to know ourselves better. It's a tool to change the course of our lives. It's a teacher, a way to find freedom from the past. I strongly believe that pain and illness can be tremendous healers for us when we learn to look at them in a healthy way. And when we learn to listen to what our bodies are saying.
The first thing to do when faced with a health challenge is to still your mind. Get away from other people, their stories, their fears, their suggestions for remedies and doctors and healers, their cures and special diets. Get away by yourself so that you can quiet your fears and listen to your body. Get away so that you can listen to your own inner voice. Your illness is trying to speak to you. Be still and listen.
Whenever you are faced with a health challenge, there are solutions. Really, there are! The problem for many of us is that we have internalized the stories of people we knew who had horrible experiences with illness. We think that sharing our pain with others will provide some measure of relief; but it seems that as soon as we tell someone that we need surgery, or that we have cancer, they have a story to tell us. This only serves to fuel our fears, and it is very difficult to still our minds when we are full of fear.
When I am doing a healing for a client, I start by clearing all the negative energy that surrounds that person. Much of this negative energy has come from other people who had no intention of sending fear-thoughts. But when you are concerned for your friends or loved ones who are sick, you may be sending them thought-loads of negative energy and fear, despite your loving intentions.
Think about the last time someone told you that she had cancer. When you saw that person again or talked to her on the telephone, what was your first thought? Was it, "How nice to hear from you"? Or was it, "Cancer?" When this happens it's as if you are denying that person's existence, focusing instead on her health challenge.
I am concerned whenever I encounter the New Age belief that we create our illnesses. This type of thinking produces feelings of guilt, shame, and loneliness in the people who are facing health challenges. That's the last thing they need.
I believe we choose illness on a soul level as a means of learning. There are no accidents. Webster's defines accidents as "unintended events that take place." I believe that everything going on in this world of ours is in Divine Order, so I just can't buy the idea that there are unintended events taking place. Like magnets, we draw whatever happens to us. These "accidents" are full of lessons for our souls, our minds, and our bodies.
Remember that Jesus said, "Love your neighbor as yourself." That means that you come first! Don't sit back and be a victim to whatever physical condition you are facing. The first thing to do when faced with a health challenge is to accept that it is truly happening. Then put on your detective hat and go to work figuring out what might be going on. What is happening in your body? What do you need to do to heal? Treat your body as the most important treasure you have.CHAPTER 3
What You Deserve
Help me take the blinders off my eyes and see myself clearly.
Let's look at the word "deserve." I have seen this little sevenletter word mess up more lives! I would love to see it taken out of our vocabulary. Webster's defines it as "to be worthy of." But "worthy" is such a heavy word. It gives one a feeling of someone always lurking around us, watching our every move, and then, based on our actions and thoughts, giving us what we deserve.
If you're good, you deserve something good. If you're bad, you deserve something bad. It's that simple ... and that abusive. "To be worthy of." It seems as if it is always hanging over our heads.
Do I deserve happiness?
Have I been good enough to deserve that?
Hey, I don't deserve that!
I deserve to be punished. I'm a sinner.
Oh, he deserved everything he got.
If you are physically ill right now, is there a small voice inside your head that says, "I must have done something wrong to deserve this illness"? Who decides what you deserve or don't deserve? Family members? Friends? Co-workers? Your boss? A religious leader? Your significant other? God? Or you?
Whenever we judge whether or not we deserve something, we are usually applying other people's standards. For example, your mother might think that you deserve a new coat, while your father might think that you didn't work hard enough to deserve it. The word "deserve" is about rewards and punishments, guilt and shame. It is about conditional love, which really isn't love at all.
The word "deserve" also diminishes your capacity to heal. Suppose you believe that it was God who decided that you deserved the illness. How good can you be feeling about the chances of your recovery? Why would God be inclined to heal you if He had given you this illness as a form of punishment? Can you see what an impediment the concept of "what you deserve" can be to the healing process? In the next few days, pay attention to how many times you think or say the word "deserve." Pay attention to how many times others use the word, either about themselves or other people. Don't underestimate the effect of this word in your life. It is important to recognize how you feel about this word and the beliefs you have formed in your mind around it.
One reason we cling to our beliefs and feelings around the word "deserve" is that they help us remain in our comfort zone, even if that means blocking our ability to heal. "Secondary gain" is a term psychologists use to describe the payoff people get from clinging to a false belief that reinforces a particular pattern of behavior or negative thought process. The belief allows you to stay in familiar territory, but it threatens your ability to get well.
Here's how it works:
Belief: I don't deserve to have a loving relationship because I cheated on my spouse.
Payoff: I'll never have to commit to a relationship again—which is something I would like to avoid anyway.
Belief: I don't deserve to have nice things in my life because I never take care of them.
Payoff: As long as I hold on to this belief, I will never have to work hard to get nice things.
Belief: I always cheat on my diet, so I don't deserve to be thin.
Payoff: As long as I hold on to this belief, I won't ever have to change my eating habits or take responsibility for my weight problem.
Belief: Because I am a sinner, I don't deserve happiness.
Payoff: As long as I hold on to this belief, I will never really have to open up to life and take risks.
Illness is a way to get to know ourselves. It is a tool to change the course of our lives, a way to find freedom from the past. Pain, illness, and disease are our bodies' way of saying, "Help me to get unstuck. Help me to be free."
In the pages that follow, I will provide exercises to further your healing process. You will be asked to record your observations and impressions in your healing journal. Any notebook will do, although you may want to purchase a special journal that makes you feel connected to the ritual of self-recovery.
To open yourself up to the healing journey, you must first get over any belief that you "deserve" to be sick. Ask your Higher Power to help you let go of the payoffs. Then, as soon as you feel an inner willingness to move forward, which may or may not be right away, ask your Higher Power to heal your negative beliefs. That's right. Simply ask that they be healed. Sound too easy? Do you have a difficult time believing that you deserve it to be that simple? Give that up, too! Be willing to move forward now.
Excerpted from my big book of healing by Echo Bodine. Copyright © 2008 Echo Bodine. Excerpted by permission of Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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