HomeBlogThe Healing Journey, Part 1

The Healing Journey – Part 1

By Tara McGee, MSW, RSW, Dip TIRP Psychotherapist, OCSWSSW Yoga Therapist, IAYT

Healing is a word I think about a lot. I suppose I think about this because it is the direction in which I am hoping to guide my clients. I spend a lot of time thinking about what healing entails, as in what theories can I use to conceptualize and understand what my clients are struggling with, how can I pace and focus our sessions for the best outcome, what skills can I employ to help my client move forward towards their goals, what practices can I offer to my client so that they can maintain and enhance the gains they made in the therapy hour. So I think about the process all the time, but what is the goal and can we actually be “healed”? 

When people go to any type of healing professional they do so because they are struggling with some type of pain whether it be physical, physiological, psychological, relational or energetic. They try to discern which professional would be best suited to help them resolve this issue that is ailing them and they reach out for help. People want to reduce their suffering at some level and they hope to permanently resolve the issue, preferably as quickly as possible. 

Relationships and Self Practice: Part 1


Healing professionals have generally chosen their career paths because they have empathy for people who struggle and they are wanting to offer a pathway towards reducing or ending the suffering. Generally, healing professionals have suffered in some way and this experience led them to seek help. The help that worked the “best” for them to alleviate their own suffering is often the modality that they will then seek to learn more about so that they can share this modality with others. 

As I have mentioned in other articles, at times healing professionals do not take their own medicine and yet they are the tool through which the medicine will be administered (i.e. a chiropractor who has never been adjusted, a massage therapist who has never been massaged, a psychotherapist who has never been to therapy etc.). It is my belief that if you are the professional who is the tool for healing and you have not tried the tool out for yourself, how effective can you be? For me, I have been to multiple practitioners, doctors of every variety and healers or pretty much every style imaginable. As a teenager, I was a ballet dancer so I was often injured or in pain. I regularly visited chiropractors, massage therapists, and physiotherapists who helped me to improve or maintain my mobility, decrease my pain and avoid further injury. I was always looking for the one who could take the pain away permanently; I wanted to be healed. 

Relationships and Self Practice: Part 1

I was also an anxious teenager and I decided that for my anxiety I would learn to practice yoga.  This was an odd choice at the time (1991) because most people considered yoga to be a very weird and fringe practice. I found it to be strange at first, however, the experience I had of feeling profoundly relaxed at the end of a class was enough to keep me interested. I continued to seek out yoga into my 20s in University and really found the ability to relax my body and mind to be a positive payoff. During a particularly difficult time in university, when I had ended a relationship that had been very important to me, yoga was one of the ways that I found some relief amidst the huge wave of grief I was trying to negotiate. 


Yoga became even more important to me during the time my father was sick with terminal cancer. I was finding that time to be very stressful as I was deep into anticipatory grief and found it hard to manage the idea that my father, who I was living with, would soon be gone. I found a yoga class nearby that happened to be an Ashtanga Vinyasa style class. This studio eventually introduced me to the concept of coming to yoga class daily and practicing the same practice as a way to discipline the mind and body. It allowed me to work out my feelings energetically and to find a place to release the emotional tension that was manifesting physically as well. I liked that there was something I could do that was difficult and at the same time felt productive and soothing. 

Yoga has obviously continued to be a very important modality for me and I continue to practice consistently. It is a modality I decided that I wanted to share with others as it had brought so many benefits to me. I also wanted to continue to learn more and more from this vast and deep  well of knowledge to deepen my own practice and to continue to resource my own life with the practices yoga offers. Although I am a psychotherapist (and I have and continue to spend lots of time in my own therapy), in this article I’m going to focus on how yoga has informed what I understand about healing. 

My yoga practice changes depending on what I need and what I’m currently working to heal or resource in me. Yoga provides a modality that considers not only the physical body but also the interrelationship between the physical body, and the more subtle energy bodies, the physiological body, the mind, the deeper mind and universal consciousness. It has as its end goal the yoking or unifying of these bodies with each other and the divine, or a state of enlightenment, absolute bliss. I am definitely not there yet, however, just from practicing this art for years, I know that I have not only benefited from the physical and physiological practices but also have widened my experience of my subtle bodies, shifted my perceptual abilities and gone deeper into the metaphysical and multi dimensional aspects of my being. Yes, I have discovered practices that eliminate my back pain, that strengthen my body, that improve my endurance and immunity and soften my anxiety, but I have also had unexpected and interesting outcomes of perceptual changes and remembering latent healing capacities that I have access to (that we all have access to but have forgotten). 


So am I healed, do I no longer have any pain, grief, anxiety and am I perpetually content and joyful? No, but I have healed many aspects of my being and as life continues forward, I’m sure there will be more struggles and challenges presented. Yoga offers me practices to help me heal through or manage those challenges and to discover more about myself as I do so. 

I no longer view healing as a static state or an end goal where you are one day “healed”. I believe it is an ongoing journey towards deeper learning and more profound ability to find connection to our being, to presence, to other beings and the divine that is within all that is. Yes, I have had moments where my pain subsided, where what troubled me last week is just no longer an issue due to the work I have done with the practices, however, does that mean I am healed? I think it just means I have had a magical, alchemical experience where one painful state was transformed into another more neutral or enjoyable state through the practices that I chose to employ. I think it’s amazing that there is this kind of wisdom available to us and that we can examine the issue, come up with a cause and employ a tool to alleviate the pain. But I just don’t think that is the whole story of healing. 

Check out our blog for Part 2 of this learning coming soon. Tara Tara