The Old English etymology of “to heal” is “to make whole.” One can also make a fun argument that the Greek helio/a “light” cross-pollinated the word at its roots. So a couple concepts with which to play.
1. When we are misaligned, disharmonious, dis-eased, and just plain sick we are not operating from a state of wholeness. The different notes of our symphony are off-key. The strands of our being are tangled up so our inner (and outer) spaces are incongruent, which ripples through the entire system (and life). This can manifest as illness or general malaise. It can simply be an underlying feeling that things “just ain’t right.” So to heal is to make whole. This involves a process of bringing those tangled up places into a more coherent space. Lifestyle choices (good food, adequate sleep, good water, exercise, intellectual and emotional stimulation) are all parts but not the Whole. I sure don’t have all the answers but the healthiest people I know are those who have a few things going.
a) They have Love in their life. This doesn’t mean romantic love, necessarily. But rather the kind of love that comes from deep in the core and oozes out their skin.
b) They are comfortable in their own skin, even when that skin (and all the stuff inside it) has to deal with all the bumps and bruises of living that everyone else does, including illness.
c) They have an inherent flexibility and humor that allows them to flow through life without getting knotted up for too long. None of us are immortal in the physical sense. I think it’s unrealistic to gauge health by whether we get sick sometimes or even deal with the ups and downs and vulnerabilities of chronic illness. Rather health is something both more broad and perhaps more subtle. It’s a qualitative sense of wholeness, humor, and peace that pervades our spaces. Deep and authentic healing is process. It is whole-making.
2. Taking a bit of a linguistic (and metaphoric) leap to the Greek (helia/o) for “light” as relating to healing (thanks for humoring my theorizing) I like to explore healing as thawing frozen light. In this construct, we (and everything else) are made of Light. When we get caught in defense mechanisms (physical, mental, emotional, etc.) we “freeze.” When we freeze we develop dysfunction. We then develop compensatory dysfunction. On and on and on. And so as we melt the glacial, frozen places of disease our light becomes once again free and radiant. Then we glow from our cores in radiant and healthful ways. We heal.
3. So if “health” is a state of wholeness then it is something to which we aspire. Perhaps it is a holy grail of which we are both elixir and vessel. And so “healing” is the process, the quest and journey of that unfoldment.