Healing vs. Curing

Frequently Gary and I get calls from someone wondering if and how a shamanic journey can help them or a loved one with a disease. And often these are what the medical community sees as “terminal illnesses”. Their question is simple “Will a journey help?” The short answer is always “Yes, but what are your expectations?”

Here’s where we arrive at the issue of healing vs. curing. So, let’s differentiate the two.

Dictionary.com makes this distinction: “Cure” is applied to the eradication of disease, sickness or issue. “Heal” suggests the making whole of wounds, sores or bringing an issue to an end or conclusion.

So, in essence, curing, is a method of treatment or a remedy to alleviate symptoms of pain and disease, whether they are physical, emotional or spiritual. A “cure” is viewed as the absence of symptoms and the elimination of whatever is causing the dysfunction, even if that means removing a part of the body or masking the symptoms with some form of treatment. While this method certainly makes it easier for us to live physically, it doesn’t address the origin of the problem, only the effects.

Healing, on the other hand, begins within and seeks to identify, transform, and remove any obstacles preventing the mind, and the body from working as a cohesive unit (the “mind-body connection). Healing is WORK. We must be ready and willing to release the emotional hurts, pains, fears and patterns buried deep inside us. The goal of healing isn’t fixing, it’s about us being in balance on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels; about being whole.

As shamans and healers, we must explain that healing and curing are not always the same. We must explain the distinction between a cure —physical recovery and/or elimination of a condition—and a healing, which occurs on spiritual and emotional levels and may not involve a physical resolution. Ideally, if the person is ready, both can and will take place with a shamanic journey.

Sometimes a shamanic healing can produce a cure; symptoms are relieved, problems are solved. We have seen this on many occasions over the years, and we have seen as many cases where it has not. And sometimes a person may be temporarily “cured” of a particular undesired condition, but if they choose to hang on to their emotional hurts, pains, fears and patterns, healing does not occur, and the underlying condition can resurface at a later time.

Many of the uncomfortable situations we go through, that we often label as disease or illness are actually for the higher good of us, or those around us, and are part of the lessons or experiences we have agreed to for this earth walk. In these cases, healing does not always mean recovery. Healing may mean an understanding or acceptance of the condition. It could also mean an opportunity for the person to be at peace to return to the spiritual realm.

Whatever the outcome, healing means moving more into wholeness, love, wisdom and consciousness. And, healing MUST happen before a cure can happen.

Until next time –
Mitakuye Oyasin (A Lakota prayer reminding us we are all related),