Friday, June 4, 2010

Healing Journeys

I figured the best way to begin this blog is to post a pilot story of sorts---an article that demonstrates my aim in publishing "Stories with Spirit."

After having a mastectomy, going through chemotherapy and enduring thirty-five radiation treatments, Jan Adrian still did not feel fully healed. Sure the treatment she received worked to combat her breast cancer---but she desired a more holistic healing.

With the help of friends in the health field, Adrian started a non-profit organization called "Healing Journeys" that organizes conferences which offer a variety of healing techniques---emotional, physical and spiritual---for effectively combating cancer and terminal illness. Prior to receiving her breast cancer diagnosis, Adrian spent seven years providing conferences for medical professionals on how to heal a patient from within. Adrian---a trained social worker---had something to offer the medical field, and the organization Healing Journeys is the embodiment of her holistic healing vision.

Established in 1994 as a registered non-profit organization, Healing Journeys emphasizes the importance of healing the entire person on a number of levels. But the organization understands the journey toward healing can be awfully painful. Dr. Michael Lerner, a featured speaker at the upcoming Healing Journeys conference at the University of Virginia, encourages cancer and terminally-ill patients to identify and accept the negative feelings they have toward their illness. "And then there are the is much more healing to allow yourself to feel whatever it is that is coming up in you," Lerner says on a YouTube video posted on Healing Journey's website. Lerner is president and founder of Commonweal, a health, environmental and educational center in Adrian's home state of California.

Lerner mentions in the video that some patients feel disease is some kind of judgment against them. This sad but true fact is something that Healing Journeys seeks to combat. Perhaps feeling of judgment come from distorted religious beliefs (i.e. God is angry at the person with cancer), or an overall frustration with a life-threatening diagnosis.

Healing Journeys aims to meet people in their most broken state, at a place where they feel troubled and especially scared. Lerner offers hope that underneath the anxiety, a patient can find the truly positive way to living in relationship to all your feelings.

He knows what it feels like to be in a life threatening, anxiety-filled situation. Several years ago Lerner had a heart attack. After recovering, Lerner says he looked at life with fresh eyes. He had what he describes as a profound rebirth experience. His wife said he spent three months after the heart attack rearranging rocks in his garden. "The whole world seemed new to me," according to Lerner.

Healing Journeys is all about bringing people to a similar turning point. The organization hopes to transform people by helping them look at a life-threatening illness as something other than a disease. The title of the organization's popular workshop, "Cancer as a turning point, from Surviving to Thriving" succinctly sums up the focus of Healing Journeys. The workshop, a two-day event that is offered free of charge to cancer and terminally-ill patients and their loved ones, as well as health professionals seeking insight into how to better heal the people they care for. Adrian and Healing Journeys have already put on twenty-six times workshops throughout northern California. They are expanding to provide free workshops in other parts of the country.

In addition to offering suggestions to workshop participants on how to better deal with their diagnosis through physical and emotional healing, "Cancer as a Turning Point," discusses the possibilities of pursuing spiritual healing. Lerner calls spiritual healing another dimension of healing a terminally ill patient, but says he does not privilege the language of spirituality. He maintains that in healing work professionals need to be able to translate spiritual and secular language.

Though Lerner himself seems to value the use of spiritual language when or where it is appropriate, he believes any person seeking (or providing) sincere healing is motivated by a genuine and positive source. "You can tell by watching [people who prefer to not use spiritual language] that they live in the Spirit, whatever they call it."

In the healing profession, there is no excluding someone, regardless of what they believe or who they are. Lerner feels that anyone who seeks healing ought to be shown an open window into the many dimensions of healing. As a medical professional, he sees himself more than simply a person who works to fix an ailment of the body." Healing is what we fundamentally do," Lerner says.

Click here to read Healing Journeys' vision and check out the organization's upcoming events.

may you experience peace within you and without you,


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