This review was first published by Heal(er) Magazine. You can find that post here.
Goodreads Synopsis: The stream of human knowledge is like a great river; many streams and rivulets make up its volume. Of course not every prophet of healing contributes to our knowledge, for some are fraudulent, their water polluted; and some dry up and never reach the flowing river of valid human knowledge. Yet it remains true that we must expect insights from many different sources if our knowledge of the source of healing is to grow. Hopefully this book will add one more rivulet to our stream of knowledge. It is itself a composite of many sources, enriched by the sufferings and discoveries of the people who have consulted me over the years, the insights into healing given to me by many mentors, and the fruit of my own personal search for healing.
Over the course of 156 pages John A. Sanford goes over the topics of healing and wholeness in a unique way that both confused and inspired me. In Sanford’s mind the topics of healing and wholeness are combined, an idea I had not ever thought of but made sense once he explained it.
“Illness is something that results in a malfunctioning of consciousness. The center of consciousness is the ego, the “I” part of us that does the willing, suffering, choosing in life; the part of us which we are most immediately aware. If this part of us is not able to functions, it would seem that we are ill.”
Illness, is not limited to when we feel sick but also when our minds are troubled. Illness is anything that disrupts our life and our interaction with the world around us. Of course this is a very broad definition but it made sense to me that the definition would cover so much.A sense of health can only come from wholeness, and sense of wholeness can only come from becoming an individual. This is the main thought that I took away from the book, and I really liked it because it suggests that healing is a process; he even uses the word pilgrimage to describe it at one point.
What do you need for a life of healing? According to Sanford, six things. Relationships, a journal, taking good care of our bodies, meditation, an active imagination, and dreams. Perhaps a quirky collection of things, but one that we can maybe all draw bits from. Personally I was inspired to journal more. Sanford suggests writing about dreams, fantasies, major life events, as well as impulses and urges.Through writing them down, he says one can confront them all, accept them, heal them, and move on. Whether he talks about Greek mythology, Shamanism and the Bible, psychology or Jungian theory, he ultimately believes that we heal ourselves, and that we are the masters of our own fate.
No book is perfect and this book is not an exception. At times I found the author long winded and rambly; other times he used racist terminology to speak of Native traditions and Shamanism, and he was also problematic with his talk about suicide. But the author himself says “Yet it remains true that we must expect insights from many different sources if our knowledge of the source of healing is to grow.” Take this book with a grain of salt. In recommending Healing and Wholeness to others, honestly I would suggest to read only a few chapters. The first three chapters and the last chapter are the heart of the book in my opinion, and they hold the entirety of Sanford’s most important and relevant thoughts and theories.
My final rating of this book is 3.5 stars.