This image is the classic "Vitruvian Man" by Leonardo DaVinci. To me, this image represents the human body and its ideal proportions, health and balance. Back when I started naturopathic med school, if you were to ask me what my definition of healing was, I would likely have gone with something very science textbook-esque. It may have read something like “healing is the restoration of damaged tissue to normal function.” Or maybe even “healing is the process by which the cells in the body regenerate and repair to reduce the size of a damaged or necrotic area.” However, now, my understanding of healing is more a form of evolution; evolving, changing, and always dynamic. Tracking this evolution is what has helped with my understanding of healing.
As you can likely tell, I am a science major that is used to specific definitions and sets of regulated guidelines with very little room for interpretation. I’m used to things being defined clearly, constant. What I have come to realize is that “the only constant is change”. It has been attending the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, listening to class presentations and doing the class readings that have helped me to realize that there is much more to the nature of healing than I had originally thought. The room for interpretation is what helps to give my understanding of healing its ability to evolve.
It is in these four short years since starting in the ND program that I learnt that there is more to healing than textbooks would have you think. It involves more than just the physical aspects of healing, as this does not encompass the whole person. You have to remember that people are more than just the sum of their parts. It is this mentality that has helped me to realize that you need to look at all facets of healing.
Healing can encompass the physical, mental, and spiritual path in which individuals need to accomplish their healing goal. As a future practitioner, I need to recognize that everyone is different and as such, I need to tailor my approach accordingly. The evolution of methods in which to treat follows directly with this ever evolving form of healing.
To me, healing needs three key things in order to occur; First, you need an injury. The initial injury or inflammation, be it physical, mental or spiritual, causes this need to heal and is the first step in the process. In order to heal, we need to deviate from our normal health state, otherwise there would be no reason to heal. Secondly you need to have regeneration. The proliferation and regeneration portion of healing can then use various healing methods to encourage the process. The approach taken here is very subjective, appealing to each person’s body, need and desire to heal. The individual approach to healing allows you to grow as an individual whilst healing. Lastly, we need to mature, to integrate our healing into our being to be finally healed. I feel as though this could be the most difficult of the three steps. Difficult in the sense that I think it would be hard to know exactly when you’ve entered this final step. As we heal, our perception of the line between illness and health tends to return. However, knowing exactly when we transition into this phase is tough to discern. We have to listen to our bodies so that they can tell us that we have matured. The pace of this step is what differs us all.
Dr Landon McLean is a Naturopathic doctor accepting new patients in Whistler BC