Principles of Sustainable Healing

Twelve core insights into what it takes – and what gets in its way.

1. Gentleness. Although there are times when more intensive intervention is not only necessary, but life-saving, our experience has been that longer-term healing relies on an embrace of other, more gentle approaches to work with the mind and body.

2. Patience. Compared to the faster-moving interventions that promise quick results, we have found that the more gentle approaches to cultivating healing are usually more gradual in their effects.  They take time.

3. Hope. Although the process may take time, there is great value in maintaining confidence that some kind of real, deep healing is possible.  What exactly that looks like, of course, can remain an open question. As one woman told us, “never predict the recovery of another person.”

4. Agency. Although there are times for all of us when largely passive receipt of blessed, direct assistance is especially crucial (when incapacitated, immobilized, paralyzed, unable to move, etc.) – we have found longer-term healing centrally dependent on at least some degree of active participation and exercise of personal agency to guide the healing process and dictate what happens.  

5. Non-coercion. Even when we feel strongly about something being potentially helpful for a loved one’s healing, insisting and pressuring acceptance of a certain right course of action – even if it has some kind of an immediate benefit – is more likely to impede longer-term healing. 

6. Space. People seeking healing need space – real, genuine space – in which to explore, learn, laugh, love, choose and even make mistakes. 

7. Self-responsibility. It’s easy, in a place of pain, to attribute our suffering to the actions (or inactions) of others.  While there will always be some truth in this, it’s equally clear that taking some significant level of responsibility for our emotional well-being (whatever trauma has been our past) is an important aspect of finding deeper, more lasting healing.  More than simply taking responsibility for our part in a challenge, this involves efforts on our part to make a change. It is these shifts that make a difference in the healing process.  As they say, “If nothing changes……nothing changes.”

8. Faith. Even with the best of our own personal efforts, many of us have discovered that there are some fundamental limitations on what we can do on our own.  The good news is that there is a higher help, wisdom and guidance we can tap into if we choose, which has the potential to deepen our healing beyond what we have found before.  

9. Community. Whatever we’re facing can seem much harder when we feel alone.  As we learn to courageously share and know that we are heard, supported and encouraged by others who love us, it helps to deepen healing in many ways.  When we turn to others around us and/or God above us, we can come to see, feel and know far more than we understood ourselves – which influences our healing in many ways.  That’s why “counseling together” is a central part of what we do.  

10. Unity. Although it’s natural to feel competition with others doing something similar to us, when it comes to lasting healing this can get in the way of people finding more of it.  As best we can, we seek to invite a unity among practitioners and participants dedicated towards supporting lasting healing. This reflects the wisdom other traditions have learned, “Our common welfare should come first. Personal progress for the greatest number depends upon unity.”  Twelve Traditions – Tradition #1

11. Non-aggression. Although serious injustices exist that involve heartbreaking tragedy, our experience has been that a response of hostility and blame corrodes both our personal peace – and the opportunity to find deeper understanding across meaningful disagreements. This in turn affects our willingness to reach out for help and connect with others on the deeper levels which lead to lasting healing.

12. Service. Another principle apparent in many healing traditions is an invitation to share strength, hope and encouragement with others – not just when that healing is “accomplished,” but also “along the way.”  As the old Quaker Proverb puts it, “Thee lift me and I lift thee and we’ll ascend together.”