When I was a kid, I found it quite weird how all these “older” people wished each other good health on every possible (and impossible) occasion.
Birthday wishes? “Happy Birthday, and most importantly: may your next year be healthy”. New Year? “A happy and healthy new year!”. I mean, what was the big deal about that? Were they all afraid to catch a cold?
Now that I’m a bit older (not old, mind you, just a bit older!), I can all of a sudden relate to these well-wishes. (Very surprisingly, I know – but I’ve not just gotten a bit older, but maybe also a bit wiser… 😉 )
Our health is one of the most important assets we have. It’s an important basis for our well-being, our productivity, it can be an indicator of what we can and can’t do, and for quite a few people it’s also an important foundation for their happiness and love of life.
That’s not to say that you can’t be productive or you can’t be happy if you aren’t fully healthy – quite the contrary! But being limited in one’s mobility, or in what one can eat, or being in pain are challenges. They can be overcome, sure, but it’s for good reason that most people would rather be healthy than sick.
But how do you become healthy when you’re ill, whether it’s just a wee cold or a major health crisis?
There are a lot of different healing modalities available to us, a variety of health professionals with different backgrounds, and of course all sorts of advice from the depths of the internet. Still, the act of healing can be a puzzle:
Sometimes it happens faster than we thought it might, sometimes slower than it should. Some people heal almost effortlessly, some not at all. Some illnesses return against all odds, some don’t return against all odds. Some people heal surprisingly well from a major issue, but then hardly at all from some minor thing.
And although medical scientists have done a lot of experiments on the factors which influence healing, and have collected countless statistics about people’s healing chances in all sorts of circumstances, there are always cases which don’t fit the models. And of course, the stats are just that: stats. They might tell you your “average” chances of healing, but they don’t tell you much about your personal case.
(Besides, the medical sciences’ understanding of “healing” isn’t always the same as what you or me might mean by that term…)
I feel that there is a crucial element lacking from all of this, or rather: that it would benefit us to look at the process of healing from a different angle than we usually do. And thus I would like to propose the “House of Healing”:
The House of Healing is a model which illustrates this missing crucial element, this different viewpoint – and which, I hope, might help some of my readers to better understand their own healing processes, and maybe also help some of you to find the important factors which might help you to heal.
Before I explain what the House of Healing is, though, I should probably explain what it isn’t…
1. The House of Healing is not medical advice.
I’m not a medical professional, and I can’t give you any medical advice. (I also won’t put through any comments asking for such advice, or giving it. Legal issues aside, this is also not the topic of this essay.)
2. It’s not intended to make people feel guilty because they haven’t “healed themselves” yet, or any such nonsense.
People get ill for a variety of reasons. Sometimes there is a clear reason. Sometimes we can figure out a potential reason, or a bunch of potential reasons, but it never becomes clear which of them is the actual culprit, or if there even is just one culprit. And sometimes it just happens, and there is no reason to be found.
The fact that a random stranger on the internet proposes a model of healing doesn’t mean you should feel guilty or embarassed if you’re not healthy at this time. And it certainly doesn’t mean you should make others feel guilty, or look down on them, just because they aren’t healthy at this time.
3. It doesn’t explain everything.
The House of Healing is a model. Models are a simplification of reality, looked at from a particular viewpoint. In the best case, a model presents a helpful viewpoint, and a helpful simplification (by leaving out things which might clog up perception and give us too many unnecessary details).
However, the sheer fact that a model doesn’t encompass all of reality means that it can’t explain everything – there are always things missing, and we need to keep this in mind when dealing with models.
4. It doesn’t fit all cases, all people, or all situations.
See above, point 3. Again, it’s a model.
5. And finally, The House of Healing is not the one model to end all models.
Each model is built from a particular point of view, and each model contains certain assumptions. (It’s impossible to simplify the world unless you are willing to make assumptions on what is important and what isn’t, after all.)
And while I feel that the House of Healing can be a helpful model to some people, a lot of other “models of healing” are possible (and in fact, there are quite a few others out there).
For some people, the House of Healing will be just what they need to understand their illness or their healing processes, or to achieve a step forward in healing. For others, it won’t be helpful at their current stage, or maybe never.
I’m fine with that. 🙂 A model is a model, after all – a tool, if you will. And no tool is suitable for all tasks!
And now that we’ve gone through all these preliminaries and caveats… What is the House of Healing?
Imagine looking at a house with more than one storey. A nice farmhouse maybe, old but sturdy, and built for a large family, all the stable hands, and the farm dogs. Or a pretty brick townhouse, a lot higher than wide, built back at a time when houses were still built from solid materials and with an eye towards aesthetics.
It doesn’t really matter how your chosen house looks like, as long as it has more than one storey (and is reasonably appealing to you, since you’ll be “looking” at it quite a bit throughout this essay).
So the house you’re looking at has a sturdy baseplate or groundwork, a basement, a couple of stories or more on top of that, an attic, and, of course, a roof which shelters it from the elements. It’s a pleasant, well-maintained and solid house – a house you wouldn’t mind living in with your loved ones.
This house, the house you’re “looking” at right now, will, hopefully, help you understand your own healing processes a bit better.
Imagine you’d be just like that house: Your physical body is the baseplate or groundwork – the fundament on which everything else rests. Firmly upon it, and partially integrated with it, sits the basement. This is your energy body. It, too, is part of the basic structure which supports the rest of you.
Next up are your emotions, your thoughts, your memories, your habits, your beliefs, and your view of the world and of yourself – all spread out over various stories, building upon each other.
At the very top, above all else, rest the attic and the roof (and don’t forget about the chimney!). These are your soul, and all the connections you have with higher energies and higher powers.
The house you’re looking at right now is solid, sturdy. It’s healthy.
But what would happen if the owners had neglected it over a period of time? Or if a storm or flood had hit it hard, or a tree had fallen onto it? If the basement would have become wet, or a pipe had burst?
How would your house look like after any of these things – and more importantly, how would you fix it? Or, in other words, how do you go about becoming healthy?
Well, if this wasn’t your own health in question, but the “health” and stability of your home, your first cause of action would probably be to locate the root of the issue.
Let’s say, for example, you’ve got wet walls in your basement. This could be due to an issue in the basement itself – or it could be due to a leaking pipe a couple of stories higher up. And it wouldn’t do you much good to spend a lot of money, time and effort on drying the basement walls, if you don’t also fix the pipe on the second floor.
But that’s exactly how a lot of people approach healing. Granted, Western medicine’s somewhat extreme focus on the physical body certainly has something to do with that. On the other hand, though, each of us knows quite well that things like stress, emotional problems, traumatic experiences and similar things can also cause physical problems or health issues in the body. I.e. there is only so-and-so-much blame we can put on the medical industry for its narrow focus, instead of taking responsibility for ourselves… 😉
Thus if you want to understand your own healing processes, and how you can achieve healing for yourself, the solution is to have a close look at all of your house, from the baseplate up to the top of the chimney.
At this point, you might be inclined to think that the House of Healing is just another of these “spiritual healing” things which tell you that if you’d only raise your vibrations enough, you’d be miraculously healed – and since you aren’t, that can only mean you don’t want it hard enough, or you aren’t working hard enough at raising your vibrations (but not that the method doesn’t work for you…). 😉
Well, that’s not what the House of Healing is about. (Although there are cases where a focus on the topmost parts of your house can bring about healing, but more on that below.)
A few examples might be the easiest way to show you what the House of Healing really is about:
So you’ve got said water problem in your basement. Or, in other words, you’re ill – something is wrong with your physical body, and maybe your energy body.
(For most people, it’s a lot easier to notice problems with the physical body than with their energy body. Because of this, and since the two of them closely affect each other, I’ll take some poetic license in this essay and will mostly lump the physical and the energy body together, and simply call them your basement.)
You have a closer look at things and discover, much to your dismay, that the actual problem is said broken pipe two stories higher up, and the water is simply flowing downhill from there, as water is wont to do. (Maybe your high blood pressure is caused by stress. Or your digestive issues are a leftover from some traumatic experience.)
So what do you? You fix that pipe first, of course! (or, in other words, you tackle whatever issue in your emotions, thoughts, experiences, beliefs, etc is impacting your health)
At this point, it might be that you’re done: you’ve fixed the pipe, the water stops, and the basement wall dries out all by itself (or with only a little help, by diligent ventilation). Whatever caused your high blood pressure is gone, and over time, your blood pressure normalises.
Or you’re not quite so lucky: The water leak stopped with fixing the pipe, but all the humidity has caused mold in the basement, and fixing that is a task all of its own. (Let’s say you’ve worked through your traumatic experiences, in whichever way. But by that time, the inflammation in your stomach has already become chronic, and you will still need to heal your physical body even if the source of the illness is long gone.)
By now, you’ve probably already figured out some ways in which the House of Healing can help you: By looking at your healing processes and your health issues from the same point of view as if you’d be looking to fix something in your house, things can suddenly become much clearer and simpler.
And how would you go about fixing your house? You’d locate any immediate and very pressing emergency issues and take care of them first. Then you’d locate the root of the problems, to the best of your ability, and tackle that. And afterwards you’d take a careful look around to see if there are any resulting issues left: any follow-up damage which needs to be taken care of, water to be mopped up, or anything the like.
So far, we’ve only looked at top-down issues: i.e. health problems which stem from other problems higher up, in your emotions, your thoughts, any prior experiences, etc. And while it’s quite common in certain circles to blame each and every physical ailment on the wrong thoughts or feelings (hey, you just haven’t raised your vibrations enough yet! 😉 ), not every problem flows from the top downwards…
So let’s say you’ve thoroughly examined your house, the house with the wet basement, and there is no pipe higher up to blame – the issue really originates in your basement. Whatever made you ill is purely physical, and has nothing to do with your emotions, prior experiences or any of the other structures higher up in your house. Maybe you were in a hurry preparing dinner, and cut yourself with a knife.
In this case, the healing treatment is easy, isn’t it? You just treat the physical body and be done with it. Well, in some cases, yes, but life isn’t always that simple.
Even if your issue was purely physical in the first place, it doesn’t mean it’ll stay this way: Maybe that knife cut heals up just fine, and you only ever need to treat your “basement” aka your physical and maybe your energy body.
But maybe the cut gets infected, and takes a while to heal. Or your purely physical issue wasn’t a simple cut, but a major traffic accident. Things take longer to heal than you were hoping for, and that makes you anxious or worried. You can’t earn money for a while, and that adds to the stress. Or maybe you feel guilty towards your family or your partner, because you’re more of a burden than the help you’re supposed to be.
Either way, while the original problem might have affected “just” the basement (i.e. your physical/energy body), it doesn’t always stay this way. Sooner or later, the levels higher up are also affected by mold, or the groundwork isn’t as stable anymore as it used to be, and the whole house needs a major renovation.
I feel that this flexibility is a useful part of the House of Healing model, in fact one of its major strengths: It doesn’t prescribe you were to look for the root of your problems. Instead it helps you to broaden your horizon, to look at other potential causes on levels you might not have examined so far – and thus, maybe, to find new angles to try out, a new approach to healing.
So far, we’ve mostly been looking at issues “down there” (nope, not there – in your basement aka physical body, of course! 😉 ), but equal considerations apply for any issues “up there”:
If your roof is leaky, sooner or later you’re bound to have problems in the lower parts of the house. And if you aren’t as well connected to your inner self as you should be, or if you feel your life has no purpose, or no meaning, if you’re lacking a spiritual connection although you long for one, all of that can be the equivalent to missing shingles or a damaged roof.
A couple of missing or badly placed shingles won’t necessarily lead to the whole house being flooded with rainwater. But in some cases they might, over time – or they hold up well in good weather, but are blown off in the next major storm.
Again, fixing such issues on higher levels, be they spiritual, emotional, experiences, or anything else, might or might not be the end of the matter. As we’ve seen further above, some of the lower-level issues caused by them could go into business all by themselves and persist long after your spiritual crisis has ended.
That’s why it is important to keep an eye on the whole of your house. Healing isn’t just a process on one distinct level, separate from all the rest of you and your life – more often than not, it involves checking and repairing different storeys and different rooms of your house.
Having gotten this far, if you feel that healing can be a veritable and quite overwhelming mess, you’re, in some way, quite right.
Healing can be straightforward and contained to a single level of your existence – but more often than not, it’s not. And especially if problems (of any kind, not just physical ones!) have persisted over a longer time, it’s likely that they have caused other problems further down or higher up by now.
Now how can the House of Healing be of any help to you, in your particular situation?
First of all, especially for long-term issues, just knowing that healing isn’t always simple and straightforward might relieve some of the burden.
Just because you weren’t able to fix your chronic issues within a month doesn’t mean that you didn’t try hard enough, or that you don’t really want it. It can simply mean that you haven’t found the burst pipe or the lose bricks yet.
And yes, in some instances it might also mean that a previous flood has done so much damage that some things might never be fully repaired again. That, too, can be a healing insight.
Secondly, you should be aware by now that in almost all cases, healing is a multistory project. In some cases, it can literally affect all levels of your house.
So when you try to find a path of healing for any issues, be they about physical health or about anything else, you’d be well advised to take all stories into account – even if, at first glance, the cause seems to be elsewhere.
And thirdly, when checking for potential consequences of any serious issues in your life, you’d be equally well advised to have a close look at all storeys, even if the damage seems to be contained to one particular area – you might discover secondary damage in places where you didn’t expect it.
Fourthly, keep in mind that different healing modalities work on different levels. Western allopathic medicine is very focused on the physical level. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) affects the energy body very much. Psychotherapy… well, you get the idea.
Wherever your issues are located (both the actual root of the issues or any secondary effects which might have taken on a life of their own, or which require emergency fixing), there are also suitable healing modalities to treat issues on this level.
That doesn’t mean that everything can be healed (some things can’t, or we’d all be immortal). But knowing where exactly your problems are located helps a great deal in finding a suitable treatment.
Fifthly, all of this is quite common and normal. Just because you’ve got “health” issues on any level doesn’t make you a lesser person.
(Btw, I’m deliberately including the higher levels of your house here, up to the roof and chimney – having any issues or problems on, say, an emotional level, from old trauma or spiritual pain, can be just as debilitating and painful as purely physical “health” issues. That’s why the House of Healing can be applied to issues on all levels.)
Sixthly, we’re all prone to certain fallacies. (Yes, me too, much as it pains me to say this… 😉 ) Some of us like to believe that their bodies are infallible. Others assume that any and all of their issues are caused by spiritual crises, or by mental imbalances. Yet others suppose that they only ever have physical issues, and all that talk about emotional problems is for wusses.
Looking at the whole House of Healing will help you to balance these fallacies.
And seventhly (and finally!), remember that the House of Healing is a model. It can and will, by its very nature as a model, not contain all the details and subtleties of reality. And there are some cases where it will simply not be a good fit.
However, I believe it’s a useful model, inasmuch as it strips away some of the confusing complexity which comes with every non-trivial medical issue, and focuses on the broader patterns:
Where are potential issues located? How might they play together? How might they interfere with each other? Influence or cause each other? What level should you sensibly deal with first, and which level can wait (or might resolve itself once the other levels are taken care of)?
The answers to all these questions are highly individual – and even for any one given individual, they will very much vary from case to case.
Also, the House of Healing acknowledges that people are different (each reader will have chosen a different house at the beginning of this essay!), and that we all could do with some healing on many levels. It accepts that you are where you are, and that you need what you need.
And most importantly, it helps you to become an agent instead of a patient – you’re the builder, the repairman and the craftswoman of your own house, after all. And it’s up to you to decide what issues you’re going to tackle first, and how, and which issues or levels you don’t want to touch upon right now.
Looking at any of your health issues through the lense of the House of Healing can help you to focus on the most sensible or the most pressing next steps.
It can help you to figure out which modality of healing might be most suitable for you at the current stage.
And it emphasises not the fact that you aren’t healthy yet (or that you never might be), and instead helps you to look at what you can reaosonably do right now to improve your health and your well-being, on any level where that is possible.
Taken together, I thus believe that the House of Healing can offer a valuable perspective, especially for people with complex or lengthy health issues. And if you have any health or other issues which you’d love to heal, I’d encourage you to think of them in terms of your own House of Healing, and see where that approach might lead you…
Image: Sigmund on Unsplash