When a person is ill, a song is sung to heal. For this to be effective, that person must let the song sink into her body and allow it to penetrate to even the cellular level of her being. In a sense she must breath it in.
-Dr. Lori Arviso Alvord, from "The Scalpel and the Silver Bear: The First Navajo Woman Surgeon Combines Western Medicine and Traditional Healing"

From "Anatomy of the Spirit by," by Caroline Myss, Ph.D.:

Healing does not always mean that the physical body recovers from an illness. Healing can also mean that one's spirit has released long-held fears and negative thoughts toward oneself or others. This kind of spiritual release and healing can occur even though one's body may be dying physically...

As Rachel shared, albeit briefly, her background and Athabascan (native Alaskan) spiritual traditions with me, she changed my life forever..."Life is simple," Rachel said. "You are born into life to care for each other and for the earth. And then you receive word that your time is coming to an end, and you must make the proper arrangements to depart, leaving behind no 'unfinished business.' You must make your apologies, pass on your tribal responsibilities, and accept from the tribe its gratitude and love for your time with them. Simple as that...

"Tomorrow night I go to a ceremony, a potlatch ceremony. A man is preparing to leave the earth, and he will give to the tribe all of his belongings. He will lay his clothes and his tools in a long dish. The tribe will symbolically accept his belonging so that he can complete the work of his spirit. Then he will leave us," said Rachel.

I was dumbstruck by Rachel's serenity and matter-of-fact attitude, especially her calmness bout death. Where was all the fear about death to which I was so accustomed in my own culture? Rachel had just blown up my entire world as I understood it-in particular, my concept of the spiritual dimension of life, of God-yet she was as casual as summer rain.

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Also on Beliefnet:

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