Spiritual healing is generally considered to be something very positive.
I mean, what could be more uplifting than putting the two words “spiritual” and “healing” together? It’s like watching a puppy cuddle a kitten … or eating a triple-chocolate cake doused in melting caramel. It just feels wonderful and enchanting.
And don’t get me wrong. I love spiritual healing. I think it is absolutely essential on our inner journeys. In fact, if every single person in this world underwent spiritual healing, I think humanity and planet earth would be transformed forever. I believe that we could finally achieve the ideal of world peace.
But if you have been reading my work for a while, you’ll know that I’m not interested in focusing solely on the ‘love and light’ side of spirituality. I am a shadow worker. I love to plunge into the darkness and expose what is hidden. And today, we need to shine that torch on the dark side of spiritual healing.
But firstly …
What is Spiritual Healing?
Spiritual healing is the practice (and experience) of restoring, harmonizing and balancing our Spirit or Soul. There are many different approaches to spiritual healing. For example, some new age healing practitioners focus only on bringing balance to the etheric or non-physical energy field of the human body. Shamanic healers focus on restoring the soul and curing soul loss. And other holistic healers focus on unifying the body, heart, mind, and soul. Even psychologists and therapists are starting to incorporate spiritual healing into their work such as those operating in the depth and transpersonal fields of psychology.
Spiritual healing is also seen as a transcendental experience of reconnecting with our true nature. As author and teacher Shakti Gawain writes:
Spiritual healing occurs as we begin to consciously reconnect with our essential being — the wise, loving, powerful, creative entity that we are at our core.
The Dark Side of Spiritual Healing That No One Talks About
There’s a reason why no one talks about the dark side of spiritual healing. Number one, most people aren’t even aware that there’s a dark side. And if they are aware then number two: they are uncomfortable to face or confront it.
Here’s where I come in: your friendly neighborhood shadow worker. I will help to outline exactly how seeking for spiritual healing can be self-destructive and why. Sounds paradoxical, doesn’t it? Well here’s the thing, it is! Spiritual healing can feel like an enigma wrapped in a riddle, and I’ll explain why.
To be as short and succinct as possible, there are two dark twins of spiritual healing:
The first dark twin is what I call spiritualized resistance.
What does spiritualized resistance mean? Basically, it means that sometimes we can use spiritual healing as an excuse to “get rid of” certain feelings, memories, and experiences that we’ve had.
What’s wrong with trying to banish or get rid of what we go through? It’s a form of resistance. And resistance leads to tremendous suffering. I’m talking anxiety, depression, anger, resentment, bitterness, the whole shebang.
I believe that everyone in the spiritual community needs to understand that trying to “heal” is not always about healing. In fact, often, healing is used as an excuse to deny, suppress, disown, or reject what we’re going through.
It is completely understandable to want to try and get rid of our suffering — particularly if we are exhausted and deeply wounded. But here’s the thing: desperately trying to heal can actually exacerbate your unhappiness and deepen your resistance to what’s happening, thereby preventing you from actually healing!
I will repeat that sentence again (read it slowly): desperately trying to heal can intensify your unhappiness and deepen your resistance to what’s happening, thereby preventing you from actually healing!
It is important for us to understand that true spiritual healing is about facing, acknowledging, exploring, and integrating what we are going through. It’s not about trying to escape our reality!
Dark Spiritual Teachers
The second dark twin is perpetrated by spiritual “healers” and practitioners who are aware — either on a conscious or unconscious level — of the first dark twin of spiritual healing. These teachers are aware of the addictive quality of the push-and-pull game of eternal self-improvement and they use it for their own self-gain.
I see this literally everywhere. It’s a sad thing to behold. It’s prevalent in people who believe they must pay big bucks to “manifest their desires,” keep their vibration high, and basically accumulate more and be more (as if who they are and what they have isn’t already enough). When does this getting and being more actually end? It’s an eternal cycle that leads to suffering.
Then, of course, you have the more sinister breed of spiritual teachers who appear divine and enlightened on the surface but are raging megalomaniacs underneath. A true spiritual teacher will always give your power back to you, but a false spiritual teacher will not only parade around wearing your codependency like a crown but will also actively encourage it. They will purport to have the power to “heal” all your issues and provide you with the “one true path” towards enlightenment, illumination, or Oneness. And if you believe them, you will be ensnared in a dangerous web of believing that someone outside of you can offer you salvation.
What is Authentic Spiritual Healing?
Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls our lives.
I hope that during the course of this article, I have communicated myself clearly. Spiritual healing itself isn’t to blame, it is our mental approach towards spiritual healing.
When spiritual healing is used as a way to avoid, deny, suppress, and disown our issues through “spiritualized resistance” we are abusing its potential. And when spiritual healing is used as a dangling carrot by unethical and unwise spiritual teachers, then it is being desecrated.
What is authentic spiritual healing? True spiritual healing is about facing, acknowledging, exploring, and integrating what we are going through. It’s not about trying to escape our reality! It’s really as simple as that.
Just think of it this way: if you had a blistering sore oozing blood and puss … would you really achieve much by covering your eyes and pretending to ignore it? No. The pain and infection would still be there. Would you really heal by pretending the sore wasn’t yours or by making it someone else’s responsibility to look after? No. You’d still carry that sore with you everywhere. It wouldn’t go away any time soon. The only way to heal that blistering sore is to face it, accept it, and find ways of alleviating your suffering — not as a way of trying to escape your reality — but as a form of self-love. This, to me, is true spiritual healing.
So when it comes to spiritual healing, please be mindful of these traps and practice healthy caution. Critical thinking skills and radical self-honesty are so vital in this day and age.
I’ve been guilty of using spiritual healing as a way to try and escape my suffering before. As a person who has wrestled with anxiety for years, I have often fallen into the trap of trying to spiritually bypass my suffering through fluffy feel-good thinking or methods that promise to instantly “get rid” of anxiety. It doesn’t work. Trying to put a band-aid on a festering sore will only make it worse. Resisting your reality, even in a “spiritual” way, will only serve to deepen your suffering. The only way out is through. You need to go to the core and roots of your issues in order to heal them.