A Go-To Self-Led Meditation For Spiritual Healing
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Can we facilitate our own spiritual healing?
The first thing that comes to mind for a lot of people when they hear “spiritual healing” might be a religious ceremony or some sort of ritual with an intermediary. But if we think about spiritual healing more broadly – or even take it directly from the dictionary:
The activity of making a person healthy without using medicines or other physical methods, sometimes as part of a religious ceremony
Healing which is attributed to the power of faith, the action of a spirit or spirits, the operation of spiritual energy, etc. Any of various forms of alternative medicine or therapy based on this
For this article, we’ll focus on the first definition of spiritual healing (but it’s a little bit of both).
The short version of the origin story is that I went on a spiritual pilgrimage of sorts to Morocco. I aimed to follow in the footsteps of my brother who passed away suddenly when he was 25. I wanted to immerse myself in a culture and language he loved. It was incredible in many ways and I will return for sure one day. It was also extremely difficult, and not just because of the grief I carried with me.
Why I created this process
I had read about what to expect but I had traveled extensively internationally for years and felt confident. Assuming the articles I read were exaggerating the harassment and hostility that women and foreigners can face, I was unprepared. I thought there’s no way that will apply to me, I’m here for spiritual healing.
So our first day in Marrakech I found myself literally bruised and bloody (because I fell, not because I was physically attacked). Limping through the Medina undeterred, we had our first encounter with a pushy stranger (and then his two friends). They demanded we follow them to the ringleader’s cousin’s spice shop. It was textbook scammer, and we politely said no, thank you repeatedly in Arabic. But they were relentless, and increasingly pushy with each deflection. My husband finally dropped the smile, squared himself in front of the group and firmly said no. Then, the ringleader looked me right in the eyes and snarled go away before slinking into an alley.
I had wanted to wander the Medina, hear the call to prayer from the minaret, and play with stray kittens. Instead, I was singled out repeatedly and threatened – not the spiritual healing I was looking for.
To my husband it was a relief. They were done with us, and we could scurry back to the riad and call it a night. To me, it was a soul-crushing rejection from a country I loved and wanted to be accepted in. I came in peace, and I was ground to dust for all my hopes of connection. We went back to our room, and I wept.
The trip as a whole was beautiful and meaningful, but these types of hostile encounters happened more than once. I returned to the U.S. two weeks later feeling very out of sorts and just sad.
Realizing I needed to take back control
I spent the weeks after my return really struggling to talk about the trip. Of course so many people had questions and were excited to hear about our experiences. When we sent photos to our friends and family throughout the trip everyone commented on how we looked so glowy and relaxed. I later joked that it was the sheen of sweat from the stress of trying to execute a self-guided tour of the country.
Even when I looked at my own photos I just couldn’t get the images of these aggressive men out of my head. I wanted to reclaim the experience. To talk about it and look at photos without tensing up with anger and sadness at these less hospitable interactions. I needed a spiritual healing – healing for my spirit that had been wounded by these encounters.
The exact visualization I cultivated
Even with journaling and talking it out, I just couldn’t shake the emotions. I just wanted to scream at these men don’t you know how hard this already is for me? Can’t you just leave me alone? Do I need to explain to you that my brother died and this place meant a lot to him and I just want to have a peaceful spiritual healing experience here, not be strong-armed into buying your cousin’s spices? But it was too late. I wasn’t going to be able to confront these men in person. So I decided to do it in my mind.
I sat quietly in a meditative state. From there, I brought myself gently back to the places where I’d felt threatened, bullied or harassed during the trip. In each place, I replayed the whole scene. But I chose a new ending. For the spice shop guy, I hit pause after he snarled go away in my visualization. I decided to give him a hug, and let him transform into a beam of white light. All the while I said I release you, I know this wasn’t personal, I don’t need to carry this anymore. And once the light faded and I was alone in the visualization, I felt a little lighter. Over and over, for each city and each difficult experience, I repeated the process. I pictured hugging the offender, and letting them transform to light. Letting them go, I let the spiritual healing take hold in my body and mind.
Spiritual healing doesn’t always happen instantaneously
This was such a random idea and it worked so well for me, I felt drawn to share it. It turns out, there is a lot of newer research into the area of subconscious reprogramming. I would say what I described above was a form of autosuggestion. Autosuggestion means influencing your physical or mental state by thoughts and ideas that come from yourself rather than other people. So that definitely falls into the realm of spiritual healing! Of course, I didn’t think to do this until after enduring months of conflicted emotions about the trip. So I can’t say for sure that I would have responded as well to this spiritual healing process if I’d tried it as soon as we were back home in America. I’m not positive, but my guess is I probably wasn’t ready.
Ways to support yourself in the meantime
In the months leading up to the spiritual healing self-guided meditation, other things that supported me were:
- Journaling (I use a classic Moleskine or Piccadilly notebook)
- Painting freestyle (with these paints and canvases and brushes similar to these and these) or sometimes will do a paint-by-number (this one looks pretty, might buy next!)
- Making my own greeting cards with elaborate rhinestone designs (so random but a thing I really enjoy)
- Creating succulent mini-gardens (this company supports shelter pets – cue crying emoji!!) with my mom
- Coloring elaborate designs (with adult coloring books and these pens)
7. Making great playlists and going for a run or doing SoulCycle (I wear these earbuds when I’m running – more economical than other brands and have held up really well for Alex and I over the last few years)
9. Reading my brother’s NYT Bestselling books, looking for references to his time in Morocco
10. Looking at the beautiful images I did capture intentionally with my good camera – this is a splurge but photography was my first artistic love and I’m so glad to have a solid camera when I travel
Asking for help is a powerful choice
It’s important to recognize the limitations to a spiritual healing approach like this. I’d had a tough time on my trip and was repeatedly harassed, yes, but no one physically harmed me or did any lasting damage. It didn’t disrupt my day-to-day functioning when I returned home, and I didn’t think about it obsessively. Those are all signs of something more intense going on. For severe experiences that need spiritual healing (and physical and mental and emotional), asking for professional help is a brave and powerful choice. A skilled therapist is best suited to help facilitate healing of past trauma, and a skilled mindset coach can support the present and future you when it’s time to move forward and build new things. But know when to ask for help.
The bottom line
When you recognize you’re in need of spiritual healing, know that the choice is yours in how to facilitate that. You’re in control. While there is a lot you can do on your own, it’s also important to know your limits and ask for help. For me, when I was ready to invite that spiritual healing for myself, and felt capable of imagining hugging and releasing someone who had hurt me, it made such a huge difference in how I’ve related to the experience since then. I can’t wait to return one day (I will do things a lot differently this time!) And I know that I belong.
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