Becoming a healer in a community
I write and talk a lot about the healing power of community for the individual, and the special ways in which being a member of communities has changed my life, and thru my journeys and volunteering I have spent a significant amount of time talking to healers.
Healers in the community are a combination of self proclaimed charlatans, reikis, yogis, shamans, rangers, therapists, medical doctors, coaches, best friends, and a bunch more. A lot of people are called into it for different reasons and they pick labels and roles advised by their personal experience, and while their stories and practices vary most of them share the same motivation.
On this article I intend to share some stories and pillars I believe are helpful to people who want to understand the role of healers better, and can help existing and aspiring healers gain new skills.
The key to being an effective healer at any level is to develop a deep sense of humbleness, aim for something deeper than your natural empathy. Our perception of people around us is heavily influenced by our own personal experience, both giving and seeking comfort is easier when there’s a true connection. Empathy can help you understand someone’s pain in abstract, having experienced it yourself or going thru a struggle together will strengthen that bond.
Healers that are still learning, particularly folks who aren’t comfortable with the darkness and shadows usually have an easier time connecting with others who have more generic issues, or only with folks who are part of their clique. More experienced practitioners have a deep sense of humility, that reflects on their patience and approach to talking to people. They emanate the same joy around everyone, being unfazed by their past, present or future.
Understanding your own limits and being able to set boundaries is extremely important. When approaching a member who is going thru a hard time is hard to know aheaad of time if the source of the pain is a breakup or the trauma from a past crime. When a conversation or interaction feels dangerous for your or the participant, is important to find help or disrupt the interaction.
This is extremely important to prevent burnout on your part, and prevent further trauma to the everyone involved. Is ok if you can’t handle talking about divorce yet, there’s other people that you can help and can help you.
Knowing your limits when it comes to your body is also super important, not just alcohol and psychedelics, is key to find out how much water and food do you need, and how the lack of either affects you. Self care and integration sessions are important for everyone at any skill level, unfortunately some younger and less experienced people don’t take it as seriously, and some more experienced practicioners take it so much for granted that over time they lose the foundation they need to keep growing.
Pushing the limits
Some healers opt for the path of pushing their own limits and taking note of the experience. other practicioners of this kind have been forced into suffering thru life and their healing is informed by the tools they developed while surviving that experience. is thanks to their sacrifice and experience that we have informationt to. The suicide club is an example of them, folks who were at the point of despair where they attempted to take their own lifes and for whatever reason they’re still here, and have made their mission to find others on that track and save them before they go further.
People are often found carelessly pushing themselves with alcohol and other substances at festivals and parties, some group of healers are very good at finding them and humoring them while staying with them and seeing them thru to the other side of the cave safely. They are usually trained in harm reduction techniques and know how to deal with people’s anger and grief.
There’s many healers that thru their combined actions and advice to the community have been able to lift people out of addiction. Understanding that addiction is a symptom of something deeper, they have spent time talking, living and digging into the different sources. Creating new frameworks and advice like harm reduction, offering free water, cuddle spaces, orgy domes, consent workshops.
When confronted with a very drunk person for example, younger practicioners feel bothered and walk away to protect their vibes, more experienced folks will offer them some water and a safe space to try and understand what is pushing them to numb themselves so much. The person leaves the bar feeling such a deep sense of relief and love that alcohol becomes less of a crutch, and thru a series of similar interactions the person can curb their intake and regain control of their interactions.
Pushing people away, mocking their emotions, failing to see deeper into their selfs, further alienates people who are suffering with adddiction and it can open the doors to worsening depression and its consequences.
I don’t love talking about this topic, because honestly is a pain in the ass, not because I don’t think is important, but because is usually framed in non constructive ways.
To people interested in a foreign culture: learn from the original people who are still around and can teach you, or folks who are deeply commmited to it, a lot is lost in translation from one culture to another and you risk ending up learning and promoting an inert version of a more lively tradition.
Members of individual cultures are on their own right to decide what they wish to share and how, if they decry feeling appropiated and undervalued listen to them and try to understand where is coming from. In my particular case I find it insulting when people appreciate the aesthetics of a culture and fail to engage with its intention.
Thru our shared intentional communities a lot of our culture permeates our interactions and with time we’re developing our own shared values and incorporating along the values of people from all over the world and different ways of seeing the world, embrace this practices, and cherish the opportunity that the space has created.
Psychedelics and ceremonies
Is no secret that some people use legal and ilegalized substances to aid in their personal journey, and some of them go around offering them to others, best case, portraying as medicine, but more often carelessly sharing in a risky recreational activity.
Healers of any level must be aware of this and make an effort to learn about harm reduction, carry with them test kits, when acquiring substances, aim for high quality and make sure to test before endangering others.
Often healers think that the substance being used is critical in the ceremony, but we have found that the symbolism and integration are more important. Casually doing a lot of shrooms and going to dance can be super but it won’t result in a healing experience intrinsically, having tea in a circle guided by a facilitator can result in the processing of old experiences and become a powerful healing moment.
More experienced healers know this and usually carry around with them propss that can help them create a ceremony wherever they are, and instead of encouraging people towards any substance, they try to figure out what the person is currently under and design the experience around it, and leave the person with some actionable advice so they can continue healing themselves going forward.
While I appreciate and think is important that more people do trainings to become psychedelic integration coaches, I also fear that the substances become a crutch and we end up with a bunch of people carelessly pushing people towards depths they’re not ready for.
All of this advice and information is very dependant on your emotional maturity and understanding your current levels. Are you capable of remaining calm in front of someone describing how do they phisycally punish their kids? can you show compassion to that person? hug them? see beyond their actions and love them because every human deserves love?
Is ok if you do, ok if you don’t, this is a journey, a never ending journey, maturity is not a binary, is a complex matrix of emotional tools that you acquire and use where appropiate. Some experienced healers also practice martial arts, have great diets and workout regimes to help them be able to physically stop a person from harming another or being threatening when a situation calls for it.
The highest levels of emotional maturity happen after you fully learn to love yourself inconditionally, what you perceived as challenges and trouble in the past guied you to here, the pain that you caused and that was cause to you now informs your ability to heal pain in others. Continue listening to yourself and become more aware of the other healers around you, together we’re stronger. Doubt everyone pushing you towards a particular direction you’re not comfortable with, pick your north correctly, and adjust whenever, every day is a good day to correct your course.
Communities are healing spaces intrinsically, because the shared experience and struggle helps the members connect, find purpose and fullfilment. The healing experience can be accelerate by intentional practices that can be adopted by any member of the community, some of whom decide to call themselves healers under different labels.
- David HaSheni