On Healing

There is a saying in the world of palpation-based acupuncture that healing happens in the empty spaces. No matter the acupuncture points being used in a treatment, the goal of any skilled practitioner is to carefully locate the empty space within the channel because therein lies the most potential to affect positive change. From a biomedical perspective, the “empty space” is analogous to the interstitial spaces in which there is the greatest potential for enhancing biochemical processes.

Take this core idea as a metaphor for a moment: healing happens in the empty spaces. How might this be true for you in your life? For many people, healing often happens when things are at their most calm and quiet. This could be within one’s body or in relationships with friends and family members. When thoughts and strong emotions fade away, a healing conversation may finally take place because caring and attentive listening was able to arise for one or both parties. This concept also applies to situations wherein a physical condition only truly heals with rest and proper nourishment.

Below is a quote from twentieth century Dutch theologian and priest, Henri J.M. Nouwen. He speaks wisely to this concept of emptiness as being full of healing potential.

“We are all healers who can reach out to offer health, and we all are patients in constant need of help. And when we look at healing as creating space for the stranger, it is clear that we should be willing and able to offer this so much needed form of hospitality. Therefore, healing means, first of all, the creation of an empty, but friendly space, where those who suffer can tell their story to someone who can listen with real attention. Our most important question as healers is not what to say or do, but how to develop enough inner space where the story can be received. Healing is the humble, but also very demanding task of creating and offering a friendly, empty space where strangers can reflect on their pain and suffering without fear, and find the confidence that makes them look for new ways right in the center of their confusion. We are all healers.”