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Lama Surya Das Headshot

5 Secrets for Healing the Spirit

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Last week someone told me that in his eighty-odd years he had never seen such pervasive levels of fear and anger. This observation gave me pause to wonder: how do we restore ourselves, heal our spirit and revitalize the earth too? What is true healing, anyway, and can it be effected?

When we are unwell, it's mostly due to imbalances clogging our lives and limiting our innate capacity for joy and well-being. These internal imbalances and energy blockages often express themselves as disturbing emotions--anger, frustration, anxiety and alienation, to name a few, and also manifest through the physical body as ulcers and allergies, migraines, back pain and other forms of dis-ease great and small. The root cause of these and other imbalances of mind-body-spirit are very much in line with the Buddhist notion that our own obscurations and illusions cause all of our afflictions and suffering, of all kinds-- at the outer, inner and at the subtlest levels as well. Conflicting emotions and delusion results in unwholesome acts which bring us low, mentally, physically, energetically, spiritually and psychically. In fact, longevity as well as vitality is also negatively impacted by these karmic imbalances.

The following Five Secrets illustrate how we can bring our body, speech, energy and heart-mind into harmony with awareness-wisdom, the vital wholeness of genuine well-being and ethical reality. Don't tell anyone: these are just for you.

  1. How do we heal the spirit? First, let's together consider: Is it really broken or wounded? This is the first secret, which requires you to question and clarify this for yourself. What is it that can be hurt, wounded, or injured? Only the impermanent construct of the separate, bubble-like individual self can be subject to loss and suffering. Pain is inevitable in life, suffering more optional; it depends more on what you make of things than on what happens around and to you. Introspect deeply and continuously, and see if you can't, recognize the unbreakable and untouchable original nature of beingness that exists within, beyond false endurance or even resilience. To know this is to bring the mind into balance by dissolving the numberless distracting doubts, questions, and superficial anxieties that usually afflict it. You heal and restore the spirit whenever, wherever, and however you contact your adamantine original goodness, thus achieving inner peace and contentment.
  2. The second secret to healing spirit -- asking for help -- echoes in all the timeless world traditions. One example is found in the Bible's shortest prayer from Moses, who, when his elderly wife was very ill, prayed simply: "Lord, please heal her." We ourselves could learn a lot from the simplicity and humility, honesty, vulnerability and earnestness in the old master's sincere prayer. Even if you're not a particularly Higher Power-oriented or prayerful person; who among us hasn't instinctively turned our thoughts upward amidst a dire crisis, perhaps when a child was involved? Asking for help is a good thing to do, when needed, even if it's just to human sources. No one can do it all alone. Recent research by Drs. Larry Dossey, Herbert Benson, and Richard Davidson among others reveals that prayer, mental resolve, mindfulness cultivation and altruism can all help make a significant difference in healing as well as raising our happiness quotient. Even the placebo effect can work in our favor! Finding words to ask for help is a way we can heal the spirit and find peace. This is not just simple faith healing; it includes intentional mental cultivation through repeated practice, including powerful and profound, tried and true contemplative techniques and spiritual exercises such as meditation, chanting, creative visualization, yoga, breath & energy work, and the like.
  3. The third secret to healing the spirit recognizes that the Holy Spirit or inner light can be understood as the Breath--the universal language that opens every tongue and every ear to every language. It is no accident that the word breath in many ancient languages also refers to spirit: "ruach" in Hebrew; "prana" in Sanskrit; "pneuma" in Greek; "spiritus" in Latin. No wonder that to be with breath is to be in the spirit and heal the spirit. God and Buddha are closer to us than our own breath, our own heartbeat. The practice of being fully with one's breath is to get embodied and in the present moment. In this way, there's no pushing away from what is unwanted in your body, there's no rejection of where you're at. Let yourself find a natural rhythm of breath. Imagine the in-breath bringing with it infinite healing capacities, letting it fill all the cells of the body with purity and well-being. Let go of all expectations as you do this, just letting yourself be present with each breath. Breathe, relax, focus, center and smile.
  4. The fourth secret for healing the spirit is to try to take advantage of The Pearl Principle: no inner irritation, no pearl gets produced. Crisis implies opportunity, and can be a great catalyst for meaningful reflection and transformative change. In truth, there are no unequivocally good or bad things or experiences, only the wanted and the unwanted; everything is subjective. Rather than instinctively pushing pain and woundedness away, as usual, we can choose to transmute them into helpful healing gifts we embrace and eventually share, like turning broken heartedness into heart-opening experience and thus increasing our empathy, compassion and sensitivity to those who likewise suffer. A former addict becomes the best drug counselor; the cancer survivor who told me he'd never have found himself and his true vocation without the disease he received (he was thirty when I met him). Turning the leaden base metal of suffering and angst into the golden treasure of generous service, finding one's purpose and deep connection with others are important tools. Each time you utilize the Pearl Principle, you heal your spirit and touch the spirit of others like a Medicinal Midas.
  5. The fifth key to healing ourselves is not what happens to us as much as reshaping and reframing the story we tell ourselves about it. Woundedness, like victimhood, is mostly a narrative or story we tell ourselves; how much we suffer from our pains and difficulties depends very much on our attitude towards it, our frame of reference. When you get locked into the impermanent yet powerful I-centered view of how you are a victim, and place your attention too much upon what others are thinking, saying and doing, you will suffer emotionally. Loving kindness -- wishing well for others -- and heartfelt empathic compassion are great protections from the pernicious disease and restlessness of anger, fear, resentment, jealousy and bitterness. We can't truly heal the spirit unless we find ways to make love of our self complete and unconditional. Love is a total attention that can deepen and become the fullness of loving presence, in which we've embraced, forgiven, and accepted ourselves completely. Here is true healing, not far from what theists call divine love. Why are we so often afraid to genuinely embrace and totally accept ourselves?
This is where inner healing begins and radiates outward. These Five Secrets reveal that the mind is mightier than the sword. Here we're not just talking about your personal egocentric mind and intellect, but deeper consciousness and spiritual awareness. This soulful vehicle can be a vessel for ultimate healing as well as relative lifestyle improvements when we can learn how to step out of our own way and let our higher selves and true connection to the All come into play. Whether you are using prayer, breath practice, self-inquiry, the Pearl Principle, relational mindfulness with a partner, or crafting a new narrative story, you can recognize that there are many ways and skillful means to achieving peace and harmony. Most importantly, trust yourself to find the appropriate path to healing the imbalances in your life, and let's undertake together this necessary journey -- so uplifting both now and later.

No matter what, an oppressed spirit can and will rise again given the right support and guidance from Source who help shows the way to heal all wounds and get the energy flowing again. Hate and resentment is a breeding ground for disease. Anger is the fuel for the fire that burns oneself, and close-minded ignorance hides the truth that saves. Let's strive to learn how to free the spirit, set a new course and intention for our life, let go and surrender, and learn simple daily ways to renew the self, re-ignite your passionate inner fire and fan it into flame, and soar on high.

"Offer up every joy,
Be awake at all moments to the news
That is always arriving
Out of silence."

-Rainer Maria Rilke

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