What does it mean to walk on the journey toward wholeness?
To answer this question, we must first ask a few more questions: What does it mean to: be “whole”? What does it mean to feel “whole”? How do I know when I am the path to walking on the journey of life? Is such walking a part of the journey or is it the route to the destination?
I am a holistic psychotherapist, working since 1989 with a variety of non-traditional and unconventional therapies and practices. Through the years, I have walked with hundreds of people seeking a life that feels more rewarding and meaningful in a world that is often fragmented and scattered.
People who come to me frequently are experiencing some kind of struggle or roadblock in the path of life. Part of my task is to work together with each person to help him or her find way through the struggles and roadblocks and get to the other side.
From time to time, the people I work with ask me:
“How do I know when I am on the healing path?”
I suggest that if they are asking such a question, they ARE already walking on the path of healing, growth and wholeness.
Truly, the metaphor of walking a path, being on a search, making a pilgrimage is cross cultural, trans-generational and trans-religious:
Joseph Campbell, the great mythologist, talks about the hero’s journey in his work. If you have read The Hero with a Thousand Faces, you will know that there are a number of stages along this journey.
The hero – or heroine – starts in the ordinary world, and receives a call to enter an unusual world of strange powers and events, which we identify as a call to adventure. If the hero accepts the call to enter this strange world, the hero must face tasks and trials. At its most intense, the hero must survive a severe challenge, often with help earned along the journey. If the hero survives, the hero may achieve a great gift, which often results in the discovery of important self-knowledge.
The hero must then decide whether to return with this reward, often facing challenges on the return journey. If the hero is successful in returning, the boon or gift may be used to improve the world.
Many of us know about the search for the Holy Grail, the famous chalice that Christ was said to use at the Last Supper, reinterpreted a couple of hundred times in poems, books, novels, paintings and the recent potboiler story, “The DaVinci Code,” by Dan Brown.
There is the Tarot card known as The Fool, the figure who takes the leap of faith to a new life and a journey of spiritual enhancement.
And we can think of Route 66, the iconic highway and television program that idolizes the American dream of traveling westward to new frontiers – preferably in a vehicle that is very cool, maybe vintage and very fast.
I draw inspiration from a number of sources including Joseph Campbell, Eckert Tolle, fairy tales, YouTube and the like.
Many of us believe that wholeness is a goal to be found rather than a characteristic to be valued.
I tell my clients that there is no light switch, no silver bullet or magic wand that creates perfection. Rather it is practice of the constant ability to return ourselves to balance that makes the difference in our lives, skills that we develop and refine by practicing them.
If we are to walk a path, we get to search inside of each of us to find the traits that keep us walking – willingness to encounter the unknown, persistence, bravery.
And we walk as who we are, with our defects and and with our strengths, and that is whole enough.
NOTE: First of two articles on walking life's journey.