by S Alexander Alich

It has always been a mystery to me why some people heal while others don’t. Even with the same disease one person will get better while another will only spiral into more complications. It has often made me wonder, is there a difference in the disease or a difference in the person? After fourteen years of private practice I have begun to recognize what makes someone successful in their own healing. I would like to share with you what my clients have taught me through the10 most common questions that I am asked.

1. How can I begin to heal?

The most important step is to create an opening in your life for healing and of course the changes and challenges that will come with it. I rarely see healing that doesn’t touch almost every aspect of our lives. I would like to offer these questions as a starting place to examine where you are now and what you may need. Take some time to think about them, while they be may obvious at first I always encourage my clients to really examine their thoughts and feelings about them.

  • Do you want to heal?
  • What, if anything, do you get for not healing?
  • What would you have to give up or give away in order to heal?
  • What help do you need to reach your goal?

2. Is there a difference that you have seen between your clients that condition improves and those that don’t?

The difference I have seen is in their level of commitment and self-responsibility. As a practitioner this tells me almost immediately whom I can work with. When a client makes a commitment to their own healing and takes responsibility for themselves and their lives they have taken a very important step that allows changes to begin as well as what is really underneath to come to the surface. They have also changed their relationship to every practitioner that they will work with by putting their own healing in motion. Simply put, they have allowed each practitioner become a part of their healing and have stopped expecting any one practitioner or any one technique to fix all their problems.

3. How can I best prepare myself for healing?

I always encourage everyone to take an honest look at what is happening in all aspects of their lives and not just at what part of their body doesn’t feel well.

4. How does your work view illness or disease?

In both shamanism and Native American Medicine we see 5 layers or bodies of a person. Illness is seen as coming at first to the layer of the human spirit. If it is not addressed it will continue to the mind, then emotions and finally the physical body. In this way disease can start as an imbalance that first speaks to the spirit – sometimes we listen and can make changes in our lives and sometimes we ignore this and the imbalance goes deeper until finally reaching the physical body. To heal illness it must leave the same way that it came in. You must work with the physical body, the heart and mind and finally the spirit.

5. What can shamanism and Native American Medicine do and when should I consider using it?

While both of these ways of working are complete in that they are able to work with each of these 5 bodies I really think that they offer western culture an important missing piece – working with the human spirit. Through our different western therapies we have learned many good ways of working with the mind, emotions and physical body but we have yet to define and work with the spirit. The clients I see have usually worked with their mind, emotions and body and are still not completely better – many times after working with their spirit they find the last piece to finish their healing of an illness. On the other hand I think it is important to mention that it is easy to think, “I have a problem and I only want to deal with it spiritually.” But, this also never completely works because it ignores the whole system just as looking at only the body or only the mind does. I think the very best time to seek spiritual healing is when you have a good idea what is happening overall in your life and when you are able to make a commitment to your healing.

6. How long can it take to heal?

It is important to remember that healing is a journey. While that sentence gets a little overused I still remind my clients of it because when you have a problem the first thing we want to do is to get rid of it as quickly as you can. This in turn can make more problems instead of less. Healing is a journey not only of getting rid of symptoms but of learning and unfolding our essence or what my teachers called our soul or gifts. So in a broader way symptoms may come and go but the work of healing and balance is something that can touch everyday of our lives.

7. Don’t forget your spirit!

This is what got left out of medical textbooks and I think that it might be the one thing that can help us the most. Remembering your spirit everyday, not only when you are sick can more helpful than anything else I have found.

8. Isn’t better to become your own practitioner?

I see this more in my practice than I want to. I can have a client that is diagnosed with a major disease and they understand commitment and self-responsibility to mean making themselves into a practitioner overnight. Even the best practitioners don’t treat themselves but seek the work and advice of others that can see their situation better than they can. Educating yourself is never a waste, the more you can learn the better, but always balance that with working with someone who has many years of experience and practice. On our best days it can be difficult to see our blind spots and when you come into a stressful situation it can be almost impossible.

9. What qualities can help make someone successful in their healing?

If I had to pick only a few these would be at the top of my list: Open communication, self-responsibility, self honesty, focus, commitment, clear intent, motivation and of course keeping your sense of humor.

10. How can I discern a great practitioner?

Most important is to follow your intuition and remember if a practitioner says that they can fix all your problems with their technique keep looking. The very best any practitioner can offer you is to give you one more piece on your journey – you can not expect one practitioner to give you everything – if you do you will be looking for the perfect practitioner or healing technique for the rest of your life.