In this blog I will be discussing the “four bodies” model to understand what spiritual healing is.

We have a physical form. It is the densest of our energies, and what we agree upon as “reality”. It is our materialist world, our organs and muscles and tissues and Earth. It is the reality in which we can outright see and measure under microscopes and experience through our physical senses.

The next body is our emotional body. Our emotions are still dense energetically. The untold stories, unexpressed traumas, repressed hopes, joy, anger, and grief all stockpile within our physical form and the area immediately around our physical form (our aura, approximately 6-12 inches around our physical body).

Our emotions are intended to have to have flow, to be e-motions. In a healthy system, we experience the whole spectrum of emotions, but they pass through sort of like weather systems. We may experience a burst of sunshine, or a few days of rain. The emotions we do not allow ourselves to experience, that we have been taught are wrong or bad, live within us, gathering energy and denseness. 

These can be emotions like anger and pain, but often also include our joy, enthusiasm and passion as well.

The stories we have not shared, the creativity that lies unexpressed, our authentic and vulnerable self lies within, waiting to be heard. Over time this stockpile of unexpressed emotions and stories gathers even more denseness, becoming more concrete in the physical form, resulting in physical distress.

The next body is the mental. The power of the mind allows for us to be our best friend or our worst enemy, to love and feel gratitude for ourselves and the world or to despise everything and everyone. 

We do not create the totality of our reality through our minds, but we do create heavy filters to experiencing reality through our minds. Our beliefs cut us off from experiencing reality; what we know to be true about ourselves and the world prevents us from fully experiencing freedom from the known. We loop through the traumas we have experienced, what we expect from ourselves and the world, never knowing that we can free ourselves from such repeated patterns. 

That we can move beyond relating like a child, seeking our parents love and approval and repeating again and again the patterns of our childhood relating in the world.

The mind is less dense, more mobile and agile. Through working with the mind (meditation) we can learn that our emotions do not hold us at their mercy. We are not powerless to them. We can learn to work with our thoughts, examine our beliefs, and allow for our emotions to flow through us, ultimately transforming them into fuel for life, personal creativity, and deep passion.

The spiritual body is the least dense of all of the bodies. Each body offers a top down perspective of the bodies underneath them. The mental allows for a top-down perspective of the emotional and physical. This top-down perspective is significant, as we cannot arrive at solutions at the same level as our problems.

More simply put, to work with emotions we will be most successful if we examine the beliefs and thoughts behind those emotions. If we desire to truly know the mind, and to find freedom beyond our beliefs, we will work with our spiritual body, and from a spiritual perspective.

Spiritual healing has a different perspective than mental healing. The biggest difference perhaps is the shift from a linear narrative of time. Mental healing largely is still invested in our timeline; we are considered blank slates as we are born, accumulating trauma and beliefs along the way.

Spiritual healing moves out of the narrative of linear time, and does not consider us to be blank slates when we are born. We also carry the stories of our ancestors– their traumas, triumphs, and gifts. We are the stories and myths of our culture, our world, and are interconnected with our communities and every single person and being on Earth through a vast web.

We carry the past, present, and future of everything and everyone within ourselves. Spiritual healing involves the act of story, of myth, of understanding our human existence through an archetypal and mythopoetic lens.

It is through telling our story, acting out our myth, that we can find interrelatedness and connection. Through careful attention, spiritual healers bring awareness and truly listen to the person who has come to see them. The ability to tell their story, to understand the myths and emotions and forces that have made a person who they are is deeply healing. It allows the person to understand that they are not alone in their grief, and that they are not the first person to feel like Sisyphus, constantly rolling that ball up the hill only to have it roll back down again.

Through realizing that we no longer need to play a role, or act a part that is causing pain for us in our lives, we can free ourselves from the play we have been cast in, and the story which we tell ourselves is our identity.

Spiritual healing also involves the healing of inner children, of ancestors, of past lives, of archetypes and aspects of self that have been disconnected from the whole. Within ourselves we ideally would be one congruent whole, with all of our aspects of self celebrated, accepted, and integrated.

But we have made parts of ourselves shadow, unaccepted, unacknowledged, and ultimately these parts become fractured from the whole. A big part of what spiritual healers do is to look at the disconnection within a person, to bring our attention and focus to why that aspect of self disconnected, and to bring healing and reconnection. 

Spiritual work involves looking at what is disconnected within a person. It also looks at what is disconnecting them from greater reality. What is disconnecting them from other people, from the Earth, from spirit, and from all that is.

Our disconnection is our sickness, and it is the role of the spiritual worker to look at and work with the defenses and reasoning behind that sickness to restore it to health.

Spiritual healing also considers the vitality and authenticity of a person. We each have a unique and individual soul that seeks expression. That expression is dampened and often disconnected. We lose our vitality for life as we lose connection to our soul.

We lose connection to greater reality, including spiritual reality, if we are disconnected from our bodies, hearts, emotions, and what our soul is quietly speaking to us.

To be in contact with the soul is to find a small light within us. This light allows us to be connected to the natural flows of existence. Our natural state is one of flow, one of change and impermanence. It is the role of the spiritual worker to consider what is stuck (or not flowing) as well as to help the person in front of them find their way back to their soul.

Being connected allows for us to find meaning and purpose in our lives, to know how we can be of service to others, and to know that we are not alone.

The spiritual worker has connected to spiritual reality to the extent that they can be an intermediary. They have built relationships with spiritual reality to assist others in their community, and can be a road map for the person seeking their care to find connection to spiritual reality as well.

They are of assistance to the Other, to the deceased, to the living, and to their communities as a whole.

Helping others to recognize that they do not need to carry the weight that they carry alone– they can connect to other people, to the world, to their ancestors, to the divine to find support– can move someone into a place of deep resilience and healing.

We truly have so much support that surrounds us, even when the world seems fractured and we feel isolated in our pain. Spiritual healing can move us beyond our alienation into greater vitality, connection, and recognition of the forces and people that can understand us and offer us healing.

Mary Mueller Shutan is a spiritual teacher, practitioner, and author. You can find her meditation course here. She has written several books, including The Shamanic Workbook I and The Body Deva