Here we are, 7 weeks into the first trimester of our initiation into the world of Chinese medicine. It is amazing to see how much has transpired in such a short period of time, both in and out of the classroom. The experience is reminiscent of an ancient ritual trial or rite of passage.
Viewed through the mists of antiquity, the path towards becoming a healer has always been remarkably difficult. Those considered for this special role were seen to exhibit certain characteristics that gave them a predilection for this calling, such as a natural attraction towards healing, a special gift, or perhaps a talent for understanding medicinal methods. However, the most important quality and the highest requirement since time immemorial has always been compassion. Healers must care for the wellbeing of others to such a degree that they sacrifice themselves for others. More than a priority, commitment or responsibility and greater than duty, this must be a constant, unwavering desire.
Possessing the right characteristics and “in-born” qualities was just the beginning. Candidates were often subjected to extreme tests designed to confirm their desire and to weed out those that did not have the determination and fortitude to be healers. In the process, the tests challenged every aspect of the person, from facing their fears and pushing the limits of their physical and mental faculties, to purging negativity and “evils” that might be lurking deep inside.
Only then would the candidate would be healer be ready to undertake the long and arduous learning and apprenticeship under the guidance of knowledgeable mentors and experienced master healers. Years later, a new generation of master healers would emerge, ready to serve their community.
Fast forward through the centuries to PCOM fall 2011…. There is a saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same”. While the world may have changed significantly from the time of our ancient predecessors, the need for healing remains and the need for healers may be greater than ever before.
Whether by chance or intent, modern aspirant healers at PCOM undergo many of the same trials as our ancient brethren, the healers and shaman of old. We too have to face our fears and endure challenges that test our mettle. In the end, it is less about our choice to become healers, and more about healing choosing us.
As I look at my fellow classmates, I see many gifted individuals from diverse backgrounds, drawn here by their desire to become healers. Some have traveled far and others have overcome a variety of other obstacles just to get here, all driven by their desire, while overcoming fears and uncertainties. I believe this to be the first test. Desire and calling have to be greater than fear and complacency, like a rocket leaving earth and having to break through its gravitational pull.
Other trials follow such as the academic challenge, balancing work, home, family, time, budgeting, etc. For some, the academic pace will be the main challenge. For many others, the ultimate test will be learning to open themselves and to develop the ability to connect with others in a deep and trusting way. This is critical as no amount of knowledge in methods and protocols will be as effective without connecting with those you are treating. Time management, organization, financial budgeting, multi-tasking, memorization, writing, verbal expression, empathy are just some of the skills, abilities and requirements that are already being formed and developed and that are required of the aspiring healer. From the beginning, from this first trimester, the challenges are underway, and more are coming as the stakes get higher and the expectations increase with each advancement.
At each step, desire and determination will have to prove greater than the strain and discomfort that comes from growth and the constant attraction of following a path of least resistance. Each step completed will be a confirmation for those that stay the course.
Those who succeed will be those who learn to know themselves and who face and overcome their fears. They will have proven their genuine desire and be worthy of joining the ranks of the great healers of old. They will have earned the honor of treating and healing others.
Clinical Counseling 1