Healing the Whole Being
I teach a class called Healing Culinary Traditions from Asia. This four-session series features diets, ingredients, cooking methods, and wellness philosophies from India (Ayurveda), Japan (Macrobiotics), Indonesia (Jamu), and China (Chang Ming). They promote holistic health and healing.
The class attracts diverse people: men and women, from young adults to seniors with various ethnic backgrounds and health conditions. One thing unites these people that seem to have nothing in common: attraction to the idea that food could heal the body and mind. They all wish to be free of ailments and being energetic, joyful, and in peace regardless of their current physical or psychological state.
Shortly after starting this class series the first time, I came down with health issues that required long term treatment and management. It was a shock to me: I had been enjoying good health until receiving the diagnoses, even during the most challenging times of my life.
As a trained temple dancer, yoga teacher, and Ayurvedic lifestyle counselor, I always felt intimate with my body and had a good understanding of what was happening to my physical health. However, the first time in my life, I felt my body totally ignored my intention, ran amok, and acted out to express whatever it was holding. I was stunned by this experience and felt hurt. A strong need for healing arose: Healing my body and heart – my whole being.
When we fall ill, we search for a cure. We want to treat the ailment and return to the original state of health. The recovering process has another component which is healing.
Curing and healing could happen simultaneously or independently. Some health conditions could be cured by surgeries or drugs, but emotional and spiritual healing might not occur. On the other hand, some people’s emotional wounds might be healed even if they are not completely cured of a disease.
My dear friend, whom I regarded as my sister, passed away after suffering from breast cancer for five years. Her cancer not only plagued her body but also brought up much turmoil and emotional wounds from the past that she dealt with courage and grace. Five years of cancer treatment and intense spiritual work left her worn out. Having a great need for healing her whole being, she took off to the Andes Mountains to participate in a retreat led by a Peruvian shaman whom she had worked in the past.
The international travel to the high altitude location was far more than her frail body could take. She fell ill during the retreat and passed away a few months later. However, the retreat gifted her what she needed the most. She left this earthy world with a sense of completion.
“There was no boundary between the starry sky and my achy body burning with fever. I felt I was embraced by God,” she told me about her retreat experience shortly before her death.
” I needed that moment of great love, being in one with my body, mind, nature, and all the existence in the world. I have no regret for taking that trip.”
She could not be cured of her cancer, but her spirit was completely healed.
There is a Japanese art of restoration called kintsugi. Kin means “gold” in Japanese, and tsugi means “connect.” It is the way of restoring fractured ceramics with gold powdered lacquer applied between the cracks as glue. Instead of abandoning broken ceramics, Japanese artisans five hundred years ago created a way to bring fragments back to the wholeness and enhance the beauty in imperfection.
When I think of healing, the image of kintsugi comes to mind. The work cannot restore the broken ceramic to the original state, but it transforms the fractured piece to a new artwork. The edges of the fragments now radiate with gold, presenting the whole being as a uniquely beautiful, one of a kind artwork.
As I search for the cure for my physical conditions, I attempt to heal my body, heart, and spirit. I invoke golden flow and let it spread to the rugged edges of my inner body and heart. It will transform my whole being into a piece of art in the ocean of love and grace.
" The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” ― Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi