All growth and personal development begins with self-awareness: the self being aware of itself, becoming aware of dissatisfaction with its self, and projecting, therefore, changes that will enable it to ‘improve’. There are three primary tools of personal development that follow from this self-awareness. But this process of personal development can also be applied to healing generally and the simplicity of these three tools may surprise you.
Our first tool of personal development is desire itself: seeing our own condition, then we desire to improve, rectify, and enhance it. This immediately and especially applies to our own healing; for sickness is a condition that we wish to remedy. If that sounds obvious, then I need to say it is not. I spent three months in hospital with cancer and the strangest thing of all the strange things that I encountered was discovering that there were a significant number of people who wanted to be ill. Yes, that’s right – they wanted to be ill. Of course they never said that; they claimed to want to be better. But their actions betrayed their real motives: they wanted the attention, or the respite, or the sympathy, or the something else that being sick elicited; they seemed to like nurses and doctors and family running around after them. One chap, in a ward bed next to me for two weeks, three times declined to leave the hospital and go home even though I heard the doctors say there was nothing more to do for him at that time (and he wasn’t dying). No, he insisted on staying, wanted more tests on his condition, and so on with his rationalisations for remaining in that bed. How many people do you know who really like their afflictions and would rather suffer them than be healed?
We have to ask ourselves: do we really want wellness – do we desire it with all our being, do we pray for it with intensity? Or are we expecting it just to happen? Our emotions are vital to our development and our health, and are not therefore playing some subordinate role to our thought and logical processes. I have taken the example of literal physical sickness, but I mean this to apply to emotional, mental and spiritual sickness as well. We need to corral our desires to an intense point where we want healing.
Our second tool is our imagination: the self produces images that begin a process of manifestation. The etymology of the word manifestation is from the Latin for “hand” – we can ‘handle’ thoughts via manifestation. Manifestation, then, is the process by which material reality comes into existence as a concretization of what the mind has ‘seen’. Hence, it is too that we find that the visible things depend upon the invisible things for their existence. There is a wonderful line from the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead which expresses this: “All the world which lies below has been set in order and filled in contents by the things which are placed above; for the things below have not the power to set in order the world above”.
If therefore we want – desire – wellness and healing, then we need to imagine it. What does healing look like? How does it feel? Indeed, what can it even sound or taste like? Sometimes this process of imagination is given another specific name: visualization; this is the same thing, only a more specific and narrower aspect of the imagination. I for one regularly visualize the cancer cells I have diminishing, but I also imagine the joy of being healthy, of moving freely, of having energy to spare to do the wonderful things it is possible to do. Anyone else who has done this, I am sure, will know the power internally that this generates. So, let’s imagine more our healing – for ourselves, for others, and given the state of it, for the world.
Our final tool is our expectations, which are our beliefs about future outcomes, or in short, faith. What we believe, especially about the future, has an inordinate effect upon that future and upon the outcomes (of life) for us. So much so, our belief – faith – may be considered a self-fulfilling prophecy. The key thing here is to realise that if we expect to die, then we probably will. We need to expect different healing outcomes than the ones we often are led to expect by well-meaning doctors and ‘professionals’ who really have no idea of the power of the Spirit.
The problem here is that beliefs are not always easy to change; we have been brainwashed or culturally hypnotized, often in our youths, to believe certain things, particularly about ourselves, which may intrinsically be negative or harmful to us. Changing our beliefs, our expectations, is not so simple as changing our thoughts or an idea we have. Beliefs are thoughts with an emotional component; so we come back to the importance of emotion again, and desire. Desiring healthy beliefs, projecting in our minds and hearts positive future outcomes, requires that we strictly examine ourselves.
Meditation is the process and the objective by which self-awareness is maximized. This leads to the interesting reflection that altered brain wave patterns – not the everyday beta brain way patterns (c. 13-40 Hz) – are intimately connected with developing self awareness.
Two corollaries of this are: first, relaxation is therefore essential to human happiness, development and healing. Secondly, the ultimate relaxation is in sleep, and sleep itself requires both the non-being (as it were) state of non-consciousness AND the dream state. In fact the dream state is every bit as essential as the non-conscious state. Why? Possibly because dreams themselves, remembered or otherwise, are primary agents shaping our desires, imagination and expectations. Dreams feed the tools of healing and change within us. Bizarrely, then, the real changes and healing we want in our life, and even the fact we want them, derive from the invisible, intangible, insubstantial and nebulous world within us.
There are three tools of personal development and healing: Desire, Imagination and Expectations, so there is a simple acronym to remember them all – DIE. So there’s the paradox: in order to live and heal we need to DIE! Always bear that in mind.