Healing as the Yoga of Acceptance

Tim Sullivan is a yoga teacher and massage therapist in training. You can find him at www.timyasa.com and americainshort.com.

On a recent plane ride from Austin to my hometown of Chicago, after stowing my yoga mat in the overhead compartment and taking a seat, my excited neighbor exclaimed, “So… you do yoga?!” She flipped her hair back, “I’m a professional psychic healer.”

Her expectant eyes seemed to say she wanted me to be impressed by her declaration and all I thought was, What do you want me to do with that?

I was a yoga teacher, she reasoned, and as such, should appreciate and recognize her incredible gift that sets her apart from the rest of us, else why be so forthcoming? It was a power play, a search for recognition.

One of the quests of most spiritually minded practices is to know thyself. Yoga and other disciplines force us to hold a mirror to ourselves and really question why we do the things we do. Why did you first begin massage school? Was it to simply start a new career? Was it to share your ‘gift of healing’ with the world at large? These are questions worth exploring.

I’m not saying there aren’t gifted healers, most of us have first hand experiences to the contrary. I’m simply challenging you to examine your intentions. If you’re seeking recognition because of your own insecurities and past failures, examine that, without judgment. We all have a shadow side. Yes, it feels good to receive a sincere thank you from a client, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, having the investment that your healing touch is the only thing that can help or cure someone becomes dangerous.

My teachers here at the Lauterstein-Conway Massage School are always telling us to know the scope of our practice, and definitely its limitations– meaning don’t tell your client that massage is sure to cure his cancer or that you are the only person that can fix her ailment. In my years of offering yoga classes, I’ve learned that healing is far less about fixing, polishing something up good-as-new, and much more about acceptance. Maybe the injury, the disease, the virus, whatever it is, maybe it’s here to stay, but what of the 99% of us that feels great? Yes, we can ease pain. Yes, we can increase circulation. Yes, we can make structural changes. But in the long run, the healing is up to the client. If nothing more, our job isn’t to fix or put people back together, but simple serve as a stepping stone toward improvement and acceptance. Leave the full blown healing to the person on the table, and if the desire to tout yourself as a magician arrives, examine that.


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