As a massage therapy student, I was taught that I do not have the ability to heal people, I only have the ability to make space in the body to allow it to heal itself. In terms of physical healing, I believe this to be true. In terms of emotional and mental healing, I believe the opposite is true. We must create the space within ourselves in order to allow people to heal us.
The Power To Heal is a book in the library of the massage therapy school I went to. It was the butt of many jokes and a friend and I recreated the cover as a spoof for our own book. I admit that I literally judged this book by its cover. I didn’t like the title and I found the cover photo comical in a negative way. I saw this book dozens of times, on the bookshelf, on the table, and even in my own hands on more than one occasion, and I never bothered to open it. I dismissed it based on the assumption that I knew what was inside. Finally, a couple of weeks before I graduated, I decided to look inside, and I opened it. It was not at all what I expected and it was surprisingly lovely. It was essentially a pictorial of various healers. It illustrated the rituals, philosophies and practices of healers of different faiths, ethnicities and cultures. It effectively and beautifully portrayed that while healing methods are as diverse as the healers, the motives and the intentions of healers are the same.
I can’t help but think about how symbolic this book was to my experience at massage therapy school. When I started school I knew that I had some issues to overcome and some fears to confront, but I in no way considered myself to be someone who needed healing. Thinking about it now, I realize that no matter what we’ve been through, or how far we’ve come through it, we are all, to some degree, broken or wounded and in need of healing. I am confident that my classmates did not consider themselves healers, nor did they have any idea of the impact they would have on my life during the time we shared together.
Much like the pages of The Power to Heal, diversity was the obvious theme. My classmates came from different ethnicities, had various religious and spiritual beliefs, and differing worldviews. Each one had something unique to offer and, individually and collectively, they all had a hand in my journey of healing. Some taught me to trust my instincts, to set personal boundaries and to not feel bad about doing so. One trusted me so implicitly that I learned to trust myself in a way I never had, allowing me to remove limitations that others or I had intentionally or subconsciously set. Some uncovered and embraced my “crazy” side that I had typically kept stifled. Some revealed aspects and qualities of my personality that I had long forgotten. Many were witness to my flaws and shortcomings but accepted me regardless, without criticism or judgement, which gave me permission to do the same. Most provided the best medicine of all, laughter. And one, well one requires a whole other blog post to adequately articulate their significance in my healing process (but that’s a piece for another time). Regardless of the part each person played, big or small, subtle or obvious, temporary or ongoing, each was a healer.
It would be easy to make a lovely, superficial metaphor about how the physical structure of my massage school was like the cover of The Power to Heal, and that my classmates were the diverse and beautiful pages within, and while that would be accurate, there is a deeper metaphor. I was that book. I was that book that I glanced past and dismissed numerous times, assuming I knew what was inside and that it didn’t warrant my time or attention. I had to pick myself up, I had to decide to look inside, knowing that I might not like what I found. I had to look inside, open myself up for me and others, not only to see, but to examine. I had to make space for my classmates to heal me in their own unique and personal ways, to heal me in ways I was unaware I needed.
We all have the power to decide to look inside ourselves, the power to open ourselves up, the power to make space in our hearts and our minds, the power to receive what others have to give, and we all have the power to heal.
Lisa Moser Valle