New Release Excerpt: Radical Healership
Categories: Excerpt Health & Healing New Release
An excerpt from Radical Healership: How to Build a Values-Driven Healing Practice in a Profit-Driven World by Laura Mae Northrup
Humanity needs more healers, because we need more healing. We are living in a global landscape defined by endless war, rampant violence, horrific racism, ongoing genocide, unending sexism, mass incarceration, countless personal traumas, and widespread destruction to the natural world that sustains us. The horrors of our injustices impact the earth, our communities, our families, and our relationships with ourselves.
We live in an era wherein healing practitioners must not only hone their craft to provide a service, but somehow also need to master the art of surviving capitalism. These are two wildly different skill sets and I wrote this book to help you do both.
We cannot live in a loving world without healers. We will not survive our own coping mechanisms without healers. We will never see justice without healers. We are collectively too far past the point of no return. We need help. Healing is as integral to a human life as the simple daily acts of eating food, drinking water, and breathing air. You do it regularly, when needed. We are complex emotional and spiritual beings. Healing is not a singular act, employed after a painful event. It is a way of life and a manner in which we engage in the ongoing upkeep and transformation needed to survive this life and be well. Suffering is inevitable, and healing is essential.
As you read this book you will understand how much I believe in the power of intentions. The intention of this book is to inspire you to find the path toward offering healing work in a way that sustains you to do it for a lifetime. My hope is that the things you learn in this book will allow you to be one single part of an enormous collective journey to end injustice and normalize personal and intergenerational healing at every level of our lives.
Whether you have never questioned your commitment to this path or have struggled at each moment to feel confident that you can do it, this book is for you.
So, here’s the deal: I am an anti-capitalist healing practitioner and I wrote a self-help book for other healing practitioners about how to run a practice. However, the job and business aspect of being a healing practitioner is inseparable from the spiritual and personal work required to walk this path. For that reason this book explores what it means to do this work and what it means to exist in a capitalist structure as the backdrop to your practice. It’s a tricky thing to despise capitalism and want to run a successful practice. Most healing practitioners find this dilemma surfacing at some point in their careers. You may not identify as anti-capitalist but still find yourself averse to “marketing,” “branding,” and “selling” yourself. You may question what it means to offer healing while operating in an economic system that deeply wounds humanity.
This is a holistic look at what it takes to be a healing practitioner. Practicing healing work is not a job or a career; it is a path. Like an athlete, you will spend your life honing the skills inside of you, to offer up the medicine that is your services. This book is for you if you are answering a calling and you would choose this path regardless of whether you were paid for it or not. This book is not a laundry list of goals to check off that lead you to becoming a financially stable practitioner, because that list doesn’t exist. People who are successful in what they do, who love their lives, who do incredible work—they are doing a lot more than a budget and a cookie-cutter marketing plan (that can be formulated and executed by using the services from https://ful.io/). They are cultivating an inner world and an outer expression of that world that supports healing and creates an exchange that sustains their own lives. Earning money is not a life goal; it is something you do because you exist within capitalism. You could be very financially successful while being so spiritually and emotionally deprived that you question your desire to live this life.
I am not here to tell you how to exploit anyone. I am not here to tell you how to work four hours a week and be a billionaire. And I am not going to offer you a magical escape route from society or a secret marketing tactic or anything that isn’t based in the reality that we live in late-stage capitalism—which is a global culture of violence and exploitation that requires you to work and charge money for your services. The fantasy that one can work only minimally but be financially stable is based in the exploitation of others (who do the work you are not doing, for less money). This book is about finding integrity amid a global culture of greed.
Healers, medicines, and healing—what do these words really mean? Healing is a process of change, wherein something becomes well again or is sustained for a bit longer. The entity receiving healing could be a plant, a human, or the soil under your feet—all of these things can be wounded, can need mending, can receive some healing and thus be sustained and well for longer. Many beings or forces can be healers. Plants can be healers, time can be a healer, and you can be a healer. When you take on that role, you commit yourself to some level of care concerning the wounds of other beings. In this process you become someone who can discern pain. You assess those you work with and see that the alcohol causes a wound, that the childhood abuse causes a wound, and the pesticides cause wounds. When they look hard enough, most healing practitioners awaken to the reality that the very system we live in is causing a wound. You might not think of yourself as “political” or “anti-capitalist,” but committing your life to understanding what causes the wound and what heals it opens your eyes to injustice.
You may be an acupuncturist, an intuitive, a tarot reader, a witch, an herbalist, an astrologer, a social worker, a habitat restorer, a sexological bodyworker, a healing voice instructor, a breathworker, a meditation teacher, a sacred medicine guide, a psychotherapist, or any category of healing practitioner. Regardless of what you call your service or how you label your identity, you are someone who is carrying a lineage that has existed and been essential to the survival of our collective humanity since the beginning of time: a healer. You have sacred gifts that you want to offer the world. And this world needs you. You want to be part of the solution to wounding, not the creator of it. To do this, you need to sustain yourself and be well enough to steward others through their pain.
So, what am I going to offer you? This book will walk you through the best ways that I know how to support you in being in the highest integrity possible while also existing in the reality of our shared world. I want to help you do the incredible healing work you are here to do. In order to do that you need to love yourself, you need to love the truth more than you love protecting your own ego, you need to love others, and you need to do a shit ton of work—which we will break down step by step in this book. You also need to work with the people you were meant to work with— and that does not mean anyone who happened to look at the contact page on your website and spend thirty seconds writing you an email. You need to work with the people who allow you to do your best work and who help you to remain inspired, dedicated, and offering the services you were meant to offer.
There is a medicine inside of you that is what you bring to this world and to the people you will accompany in their healing. That medicine is most potent when it is in its purest form and not cut by an intermediary along the way. Whatever you have endured in this life, whatever you have had to wade through to get here, it has enriched and informed your medicine, but you will need to work through those hardships to purify and refine your medicine so others can receive it. You have probably already done a lot of work, and this book will invite you to do more. But the other side of that work is running a smooth “business,” which nourishes you and the people you serve, while you are fulfilled by a meaningful life and healing practice. Most businesses fail because of emotional and spiritual blocks. You might call it “bad financial management” or “poor administrative skills,” but when we look closer it is so much more. When people are struggling to run a practice, I start to wonder: Did you ask for help when you needed it? Did you admit that you were struggling and humbly learn new skills? Did you charge enough to earn an adequate income and have self-sustaining boundaries? Did you live in scarcity and run yourself into the ground working with people who were not a good fit for you? Did you turn away work because you felt you were “too good” for it and it challenged your self-esteem? Did your unhealed wounds start to run your practice?
This book explores the ways that our egos, personal wounding, and societal wounding inform our abilities to be sustained healing practitioners. The answer to each of the aforementioned questions lies in personal-growth work. Running a practice and being a healing practitioner is vulnerable, hard work. It requires you to grow throughout your life.
Oppression is real. When I talk about working through your material and liberating yourself, I mean in whatever way is possible. You are not responsible to single-handedly transform systems of oppression that target and oppress you. Being the target of white supremacy, patriarchy, religious persecution, transphobia, ableism, classism, and other forms of oppression impacts the ability to build a sustainable practice. While many books on building a practice celebrate the promise of class mobility and imply that working hard or working smarter will free you of the financial impacts of any of the above-listed oppressions, the reality is far more complex. If oppression was surmountable simply through labor, we would all be free. However, in any circumstance the question is: What can I do? Is there any way to be more in yourself, more loving, more liberated, more alive, more resilient, or more restful than what the first impression seems to offer? This book takes a stern look at personal responsibility while deeply acknowledging that being the target of systemic oppression is not your fault.
In 2012 I spent a weekend learning from Eduardo Duran, author of Healing the Soul Wound, that transformed the way I think about being a healing practitioner. Whenever I talk about “finding your song” or “singing your song,” I am referencing the learning I received from Eduardo. He was sharing about his process as a psychologist. He shared about being in a Western professional context and learning Jungian theory. Then he shared about how that transformed as he worked with Indigenous community. He explained that in a Western context, we go to school and we learn to regurgitate the songs of the people who came before us. We are assigned papers where we quote the theories of others, where we demonstrate that we know their song, that we can go and sing their songs and perform their theories of healing. But you have a medicine in you: and that is your song. This book is about supporting you to sing your own song. I will share knowledge and offer you guidance, but there is a medicine in you that needs its own tune, its own voice.