Healing Journey Monday: Healing is a participatory activity

Following up on last week’s post on the interconnections in the muscular system, I’ve also been chatting quite a bit with body workers about how many people are unwilling to do anything to further their own healing. For example, with so many massage therapists among my clientele in my movement classes, they’ve recommended to many clients—at least 2 dozen that people have mentioned to me—that they’d progress faster and get relief by taking my class. One person ever has signed up based on those recommendations.

They tell me they make all kinds of recommendations about stretches or changes that would assist the process and week after week people come back and admit they haven’t done anything – some don’t even recall that they were given anything to do.

My personal experience is that doing something like the combination of movements that trigger release and yoga that I practice on a regular basis between appointments can make a huge difference. I’m generally at the least able to hold all the releases that were achieved in the last appointment and sometimes he tells me I’ve actually opened significantly more than was open when I left the last time. Every student I’ve ever had who has had a regular chiropractor or physical therapist or massage therapist has reported back after 1-2 classes that the practitioner was amazed by how much had opened just from one or two classes*

I’ve also known lots of people who had doctors or practitioners tell them that they should avoid eating certain foods or make sure to eat more of some particular food because the foods either hurt their condition or help their condition. And the number of people who won’t follow the advice is amazing. I have to include myself up to a point because I’ve changed my diet radically due to such advice and yet I’m not 100% at all about following the restrictions.

The point is that healing – as opposed to just masking symptoms, as lots of prescriptions do – generally requires that the patient/client be willing to participate in the process. Acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, whatever the modality, it’s not that likely that a client is going to heal completely without taking herbs and/or changing diet and/or doing yoga, etc. And the puzzling thing to me is why so many people are not willing to do anything at all.  Really, healing is a participatory activity!  Do you have any practices or dietary changes that you know make you feel better but that you don’t do anyway?  Any clients who constantly wish the pain would be gone or the healing complete but refuse to taking any action themselves (other than coming to you) to make that happen?

* “Much” is a relative term in this kind of thing and that can mean that things have loosened up enough for the therapist to notice but there may be so much that’s still tight that the student is less aware; and it may take time to get it all opened.

15 thoughts on “Healing Journey Monday: Healing is a participatory activity

    • I think that question might be worth a few posts just to explore it. I think in the U.S. it starts with most of us being brought up to turn all our medical issues over to doctors.

  1. I’ve also been puzzled as to why people won’t take responsibility for their own healing. I think it has something to do with us as a society being programmed to avoid pain. Just pop a pill and anything bad will go away. But of course it doesn’t go away. TV is bombarded with drug ads these days because the medical profession is organized to support the pharmaceutical industry. People want the easy way out so they choose to live in denial about what it takes to really heal themselves. Education is the key. People have to be willing to educate themselves. Thanks for all of us for the education you are doing by sharing your journey.

    • Good points. I think we’re programmed to avoid looking at our issues too — or even admitting that we have issues to find — and that feeds the desire to numb out with pain killers… Thank you — I sure hope that what I share can help some people.

  2. I’ve seen what you describe. The doctor gives instructions on what to do to promote healing and they are ignored. This is followed by complaints that they aren’t feeling better. It must be so frustrating for doctors.

    I’m guilty of not making the best dietary choices. A couple years ago, my husband and I tried a plan that limited sugar and carb intake. I felt great and had more energy than I can ever remember having. It went well until we went to San Francisco and I succumbed to the call of sourdough bread. I’ve not been able to say no to the sweets since then. but I’m getting to the point I’m ready to try it again.

    • I know those dietary changes are tough for most of us. I know a few people who just instantly give up anything that’s reported to be bad for you and don’t seem to care, but most of us struggle with it.

  3. This is very definitely something I have seen too often and it perplexed me for a long time – you would think everybody would do whatever it takes to heal and be well again, but this is not always true. I had an insight a while ago that sometimes people fear change so much that no matter how uncomfortable a space they are in, they would rather remain there than go forwards into something new/unknown. Having journeyed through illness myself, I also learned how we can sometimes begin to identify with our illness and this can subconsciously affect the decision to heal – sometimes it causes self-sabotage, which can express as doing nothing to get well. I think it is important for people to realize that they need to be responsible for their own healing and this means participating in the process. Great article, thank you!

    • Yes, I think that fear of change thing is a big part. Also, working seriously into letting going of health problems usually means getting into some of the emotional issues that most people assiduously avoid… But I’ve certainly found in my own healing journey that long illness can create a pattern for life that’s hard to leave. As I reach a point of wellness where I can do more, I’m struggling to get myself back out again — still doing all the healing things that are making me well but having a hard time getting out of the quiet cocoon and back into life. Thanks so much for the thoughtful comment.

      • So true and beautifully expressed! It isn’t easy getting back out there again but just remember that every journey begins with a single step, and is completed one small step at a time. You will get there!

  4. Thank you Leigh!! That was just the kick in the butt I needed to get off the sofa at night and do yoga and repatterning!


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