Some Hindus have an elephant to show.
No one here has ever seen an elephant.
They bring it at night to a dark room.
One by one, we go in the dark and come out
saying how we experience the animal.
One of us happens to touch the trunk.
"A water-pipe kind of creature."
Another, the ear. "A very strong, always moving
back and forth, fan-animal."
Another, the leg. "I find it still,
like a column on a temple."
Another touches the curved back.
"A leathery throne."
Another, the cleverest, feels the tusk.
"A rounded sword made of porcelain."
He's proud of his description.
Each of us touches one place
and understands the whole in that way.
The palm and the fingers feeling in the dark are
how the senses explore the reality of the elephant.
If each of us held a candle there,
and if we went in together,
we could see it.
(translated by Coleman Barks)
There are many different situations which this tale could be metaphorically applied to. The one which I have felt it is most appropriate to of late is the singular views of many healers. More often than not, this applies to new healers or young healers, but I’ve seen it in healers who are well-established in their calling, too. The healers end up believing that their ways are the only ways. They forget that there are many modalities to treat different issues; that variety is valid and can be necessary. For instance, if one is having pain in one’s knees due to Lyme, one can approach that pain through physical therapy, massage, meditation, spiritual healing, acupuncture, herbs, drugs, and chiropractic work. A combination of the methods is more likely to provide relief, and for different patients, different methods will be the most effective approach. By only looking at one solution, or metaphorically, one part of the elephant, healers and patients can miss the bigger picture.
However, many providers forget this truth because they are working from a place of ego. They forget that they are just one instrument in an orchestra. While each instrument can play beautiful solos, some songs can’t be played without the whole orchestra working together. So too are the truths of healing. No one approach is the solution to everything. Most patients with chronic or long-term illnesses can attest to this. Most have tried many different methodologies to find what works best for them. Along my healing journey, I have used to different practitioners with varying successes for acupuncture, aromatherapy, Bodytalk, chiropractic, craniosacral therapy, EFT, energy work, herbs, homeopathy, manual lymph drainage, massage, naturopathy, osteopathy, reflexology, spiritual healing, talk therapy, Western medicine, yoga, and more. Some of these have worked far better than others in helping me, yet other patients find better success with some of the very things that didn’t help me much at all.
It is also really important to remember that different practitioners will have different skills and abilities in their fields. Yo-Yo Ma can make a cello sing; but a fifth grader in the first year of cello lessons can produce some terrifying sounds from the same instrument. Likewise, a gifted and well-trained healer will be able to produce great healing whereas a brand new or weak healer may not be able to achieve the same results. I have seen nine different chiropractors over the course of my illness, and I would say that three were fabulous, five were good, and one was terrible (despite having practiced for 20+ years). The one whom I thought was terrible has a great reputation among his patients, so clearly he is the right healer for other people. He just wasn’t skilled in the correct areas to help me. If one practitioner doesn’t work for you, consider trying another before writing off the entire method of healing.
One of the things that I consider a large part of my business is referring clients to other healers. I am not the end-all solution to anyone’s major health issues. For starters, I can’t practice medicine, so my patients will need a doctor, chiropractor, naturopath, or other healer to help them with any messages I receive that involve physical healing. If Austin-based clients are not already working with an appropriate healer, I’m happy to refer them to someone who can assist. I also refer clients to practitioners for psychotherapy, bodywork and more. I strongly believe it takes a team to heal a major illness.
If you encounter a practitioner who downplays the other methods you use for healing, please reflect on why that practitioner is trying to stop you from using other modalities. If the practitioner has a genuine fear that you might be hurt by an inadequate practitioner or dangerous practice, that is one thing. However, if the practitioner wants to be your magic cure, you may want to consider if they are trying to heal from a place of ego. If they are, you might have better success working with a healer who recognizes they are one instrument of healing within a powerful and talented orchestra.
© 2015 Elizabeth Galen, Ph.D., Green Heart Guidance, LLC