Any of us can be healers


February 21, 2013

This is a monthly column by Dr. Zahra Bardai in which she guides our path to well-being.

When I saw that healing was the theme of this month’s GNT I thought, “This should be easy … it’s what I do every day.” Being a physician means being trained in disease management. Often this process takes many years, each year gaining more knowledge, expertise and experience in the practice and operation of medicine. While it’s true that most of my work day is spent assessing symptoms, formulating hypotheses, ordering tests to confirm my diagnoses and managing disease, I can’t say this is why I consider myself to be a healer. It’s something a little more Gestalt … a feeling of walking in someone else’s shoes, empathizing with their circumstances, getting an understanding for their coping skills and really listening to the emotion behind the symptoms. This is differentiated from the bio-medical aspect of attending to a litany of complaints and fitting them into nicely constructed disease frameworks. In my view, healing actually involves enabling and empowering a person to manage and cope, and in ideal circumstances prevent or alleviate what ails them.

In its essence, healing is responding to physical, emotional or spiritual distress. Based on this definition, any of us can be healers. What’s more, often the strength to face illness or disability, be it our own or someone else’s, is something that resides within us. I’m not discounting the role of doctors or other healthcare practitioners in disease management. However, the human side of medicine and healing is about understanding and encouraging the untapped potential within each of us in an attempt to transform suffering and isolation into a feeling of wholeness. Connecting with something that has meaning for us is the key to healing. This may be a connection to the strength that is found within us, or to an external source that capitalizes on our individual internal power. Allowing what you know, what you feel and what you are to exist in harmony leads to healing. This means that healing can happen regardless of whether a cure has been achieved. It also means that the doorway to healing is about celebrating the small victories, letting go of fears that we cannot control, taking the time to show gratitude for the bonds we make with each other, and believing in the strength that we each possess within us. February celebrates love and family in Ontario; in the words of a good friend, healing is about becoming “vessels of love” for ourselves and each other.

About the Author(s)

Zahra Bardai

Zahra Bardai is a family physician. If you have any questions about her topic please e-mail her at

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