It is the experience of touching the pain of others that is the key to change...Compassion is a sign of transformation.
-Jim Wallis

From "Choices in Healing" by Michael Lerner, Ph.D., in "Breast Cancer: Beyond Convention," edited by Mary Tagliaferri, Isaac Cohen and Debu Tripathy:

Viktor Frankl, a Jewish psychoanalyst, was a prisoner in Auschwitz during World War II. While trying to survive, and as a physician trying to help other prisoners, he came to look closely at who managed to survive, both physically and psychologically under these very extreme conditions.

Do you think it was the strongest who survived? Frankl found that those who survived were not the strongest, but father those who had some core of meaning that made living worthwhile...

Larry LeShan, a great cancer psychotherapist, has reported that in his work with thousands of people with cancer, those who "do best" physically as well as psychologically are characteristically those who are able to use cancer as a turning point and are able to find what LeShan has called "their own unique song." They have found their own unique core of meaning with which to face the experience of the disease.

Frankl puts it another way. There is what happens to us in life, and there is our response to what happens to us. We may or may not be able to change what happens to us, but we always have a degree of inner freedom in our response to what happens to us...This is the fundamental question to which the great spiritual traditions are addressed. The spiritual traditions teach us the capacity to grow in wisdom and compassion so that we can respond from the deepest place in ourselves, to whatever life brings us.

That capacity to choose wisely and compassionately, with a sense of our own uniqueness and our own destiny, is what making choices in healing is ultimately all about. To understand the nature of healing is to understand the greatest wisdom about how to live.

* * *

Also on Beliefnet:

  • How Silence Soothes the Harried Soul

  • Sign up

    to receive Health & Healing insights in your inbox everyday.

    more from beliefnet and our partners
    Close Ad