Healing vs. Curing

Kelly Dignan
Mar 31 · 2 min read

I struggled for the longest time with the concept of healing. Could we really use spiritual practices to end a problem or disease? Should we be waiting around for God or some spiritual power to remove our pain and suffering?

Then I read the work of Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. He says that there is a difference between curing and healing. A cure is something that stops a disease, something that ends a problem or eliminates a bad situation. For some problems, cures exist. But for many they do not. Healing means a restoration to wholeness. For example, someone who has lost an arm in an accident is still a whole person. Someone who faces death from an incurable disease is still whole.

Wholeness! That is possible and reasonable. We don’t spiritually bypass the problem by thinking we can make it go away entirely, but we can participate in practices that create more wholeness and ask for spiritual support for that process.

Several years after reading Dr. Zinn’s work, I went to seminary and found the same perspective presented there. I also learned that the words heal, healthy, whole, and holy all have some things in common when we look at root words:

The Old English word hælan means “to heal; make whole, sound and well;”

Old Norse heill means “healthy;”

Old Norse helge is “holy, sacred.”

Healing involves practices that shift our mindset of suffering and anguish, recognize our intrinsic wholeness and deepen our connection to everything else. And yes, we can ask for spiritual help from God, ancestors, Universal Life Force - whatever else supports us - without waiting for them to take it all away. We play a role. It is sacred, holy work that helps us become more healthy and whole.

Kelly Dignan www.kellydignan.com

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