Mike_Conover_Energy 3

Healing and my spiritual path

Jesus healed.  It was a cornerstone of his ministry; notoriety, and a subject of a third of the stories in the Gospels.  His apostles healed.  Fox, Naylor and other early Friends (Quakers) healed.  In their environment of religious exploration & change (later 1600’s in England), it was an expected sign of religious power and connection to the Holy Spirit.  George Fox felt his healing significant enough to write a “Book of Miracles” documenting it, and left money for its publication.  James Naylor was considered an even more powerful healer than Fox.  Some believe that this was the underlying reason Naylor didn’t get more support from Fox when scandal broke around him.

Not only was “The Book of Miracles” never published, but the manuscript disappeared (Only the extensive index has survived. That and excerpts from Fox’s journals are the basis for the Quakerbooks publication of that name.)  This coincided with the rise of science and the Age of Reason, and a de-emphasis of the mystical (a word seldom used by Quakers before Rufus Jones in the 1900’s) within the Religious Society of Friends.

This healing was often very physical and hands on.  The Quakerbooks publication tells of Fox healing a broken neck (on this side of the Atlantic) by lifting his traveling companion’s head, wiggling it gently around, and setting it back into its correct position.  An hour later, Fox and the man were back on their horses riding on.

Meetings for Healing are a tradition within FGC.  It is also a part of FUM.  A very moving Meeting for Healing at Chicago MM coincided with MCGM in the fall of 2006, and was led by a Western YM recorded minister.  John Calvi has been the most visible contemporary Quaker healer, and does weeklong workshops at most FGC gatherings.  Lake Forest MM has an ongoing MfH.  Beth Burbank has written extensively on the subject of Quaker healing.

In writing this now, I am realizing for the first time that my regularly attending Quaker Meeting and being involved with energy & body work, both started in Santa Cruz California in the Mid-Seventies [1970’s- my mid 20’s J ].  And both were largely dormant in my life for most of the next 30 years.

My current experience with both energy and Quaker worship started in mid 2005.  I reappeared (in retrospect, I see that I was led) in the doors of 57th Street after a hiatus of some 25 years.  After a couple of consecutive Sundays, I had my first physical experience of the Gathering that can take place in Meeting for Worship.    Week by week, Meeting for Worship by Meeting for Worship, silent waiting and 5th day worship filling between; I became aware more & more often, deeper & deeper, of changes in my heart.   And over (a pretty short) time, these feelings and openings started in more places in my body.  I would feel a sensation in my solar plexus before becoming aware of the children entering worship.  The sides of my neck, and where ovaries would reside (if I had those); were portals to energy.

I eventually realized that these locations on my body corresponded to some of my extensive training and education in body & energy work in Santa Cruz so many years before.  Chakra locations.   I picked back up a book on chakras, and chakras became (and remains) the framework of my understanding of energy and energy flows.

Using the support of a non-theist spiritual mentor; the sacred heart of Christ became my most powerful portal to these changes and spiritual connections.  Christianity had not been a part of my life for many years (I had become an agnostic in high school while still very involved with my church’s youth program), religious symbolism and icons have never grabbed me, and particularly heart images; so this seems NOT directed or influenced by my psychology.

Christ continues to be a very powerful spiritual connection for me.  Strengthening as I stumble forward on (and off) of my path.  There are other valid and valuable paths;  Christ is at the center of mine. I appreciate the pain and wounding that have been done in Jesus’ name.  How much earthly and egoic power rattles around within Christianity.   So, I often struggle with the use of Christ centered language.  And usually grimace at and (at least internally) push back against much I see spoken and done in the name of Christ.          And, I am comforted by the humility, radical acceptance, unity, & mothering energy- available through the Living Christ.   In communities & among individuals, tender in their experiences of pain, suffering, and abuse of power exasperated by Christianity; words to share about the Living Christ often elude me.

Circumstances brought me to the Friends General Conference annual Gathering, Tacoma WA in 2006.  The promise of humor and energy work brought me to Richard Lee’s Meeting for Healing weeklong workshop there.    Later that year, I clerked a MfH with my family for my aunt in the late stages of  Alzheimer’s.  Our purpose was not to heal the disease, but to foster God’s purpose.  Her final progression was peaceful, and I was blessed with a new connection to God coinciding with her passing. Meetings for Healing have connected me powerfully to the Divine; and allowed me to accept, , and surrender to, the Mystery (if only sometimes).

I do not remember my exact path with one-to-one body and energy work.  It started in Santa Cruz.  During my family raising years, I worked on my then spouse, my children, and even my pets.  As I have become more aware of energy in myself; I have also been more aware of what is going on, for, and in others.  I will feel it in myself; and have come to understand this as being physical (body) empathy.  Blockages, energy flows, and sometimes emotions of those I am in proximity to and contact with- will manifest in me.  Talk about boundary issues [J].  I think understanding this has been helping me in distinguishing and holding my own emotions, as well as with my empathy for others.  Understanding what taking place has been helpful in sorting out some of my more challenging reactions with others.  Challenging for me, and very often for those others.  Our energies can really interact and bounce off of each other in unsettling ways.

And (as in a gathered Meeting for Worship) they can combine in powerful and calming ways.
Over the last 5-6 years, the majority of my healing touch activity has been with Debie; my girlfriend and partner (this is NOT her in the picture above) .  Her powerful energy has been instrumental in honing my sensing, techniques for clearing energy pathways and blockages, and helping others to develop their abilities.  My daughter Caitlin has ‘hot hands’ energy-wise.  Working toward becoming a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, she is looking forward to hands-on patient work being integral to her practice of medicine.  How could I be any prouder of her?  Debie’s support and encouragement has been foundational to my healing path.  The consistency of our work, communication, and connections have been huge in my experience and development.

Friends have traditionally found it most clarifying and useful to focus on Prophetic and Eldering gifts & functions separately- being present in & to one of these fairly discretely from the other.   Those functions are different.  Prophetic- inspirational and expansive; Eldering- supportive and grounding.  It would seem intuitive to me that I am likely the more expansive and Debie the more supportive.  I think our deepest roles, and particularly in our partnership, are the reverse of that.

I have been a part of several groups starting, developing, and deepening over time.  Reike shares, tantric, mid-week worship, spiritual formation, NVC.  Some specifically healing oriented, some not as much.  Some that I am still a part of, including a Reike share in the western suburbs. Some that I no longer participate regularly in, but did so for years.  The patterns- of tentative beginnings; finding a process, pattern, and rhythm; developing in trust, safety, comfort, and understanding; deepening in sharing and experience- have significant similarities.  Remarkable sharing, connection, internal understanding & deepening; resulting in healing & growth; have become available.  Not all groupings stay together over time.  Some have gone deeper than others.  Some have filled and fulfilled richer needs, and made stronger connections for me, than others.  I cherish the process, the possibilities, the connections.  I feel enriched by the contributions I make.  I sense connection and healing; inherent and interwoven.  Circumstances affect folk’s availability, and how they show up;  well beyond any human control.  That is easily perceived and experienced in the waxing & waning of monthly meeting participation, for example.  In single purpose groups, it seems harder to miss our human lack of control over this.   The role of Mystery- inherent and influencing directions.  That helps me surrender some of my sense of control & responsibility, over the paths and over the outcomes.   Outcomes are determined well above my pay grade.

Vulnerability plays an important role.  I came to appriciate this through Brene Brown; starting by watching her Tedx Talk on the subject.  (I recommend that you Google and watch it).  I see that it is an important factor in NVC, and have learned things about expressing my feelings & needs in ways that increase empathy (from others and from myself); which in turn increases understanding, collaboration, and connection.  Sharing vulnerably comes more naturally to some than to others.  It seems that my well developed defense mechanisms and patterns, often obscure my abilities to share vulnerably.  I found a way to go to vulnerability in standing before my Quaker community (at MfB) last February.  Subsequently, somewhere in the processes and interactions that flowed from that standing up, I moved away from that vulnerability.  And, moved away from connecting and connection in many of my interactions and situations stemming from the issues involved.    Trust, a sense of safety, positive reactions & experiences to vulnerable sharing; are so very important.  Responding in vulnerability to a vulnerable sharing is important and significant, I think.  And, good for both souls.  All the souls involved.

I want, and need for my healing I think, to find ways and habits to express vulnerably in  more consistent ways.  To open internally in more vulnerable ways.  To maintain that softness and vulnerability in the face of challenges and challenging situations.  And also, to acknowledge what situations are challenging for me.  To not hold myself in ways and situations that consistently rub me tender & raw.   That sap my reservoirs of good humor; and where I find myself closing in, going intellectual, and presenting in ways that feel angry & scary to some.  Being perceived as angry and scary is VERY hard on me.

Humor is SO important.  So important to me.  So healing, so connecting, so helpful in creating safety.  Such a lubricant in many ways.   A carrier wave for Spirit, love, and communication.  Humor makes everything easier.  And, it is so hard for me to stay in.   I get so very serious.  I have made several attempts at humor in & as my spiritual discipline; but have not found a routine or habit that has stuck, or been consistently useful.  I plan to keep trying.

The Healing Center at FGC Gatherings has been pivotal over several years in my healing understandings, practices, and path.   I have gained powerful experience and experiences there.  I have felt respect, cooperation, and collaboration in a group peer environment; among Friends that I deeply admire, appriciate, and relate to.   I have developed an understanding of trusting & developing my intuition and instincts, while at the same time getting out of the way of God’s work and Presence.  Appreciating the power of the trusting group.  The lack of boundaries and differences between healing, connection, love, and God.   The power of touch, trust, and acceptance.  The importance of consistency, regularity, and time together.

Early in my experiences of FGC Gathering, I went to the Healing Center, and got a session (most of the Healing Center work is one-to-one; all together in one large room).  It was a nice, but unremarkable, single session.  When I returned in later years as an uncertain practitioner, and was accepted graciously and comfortably in as a peer; my experiences there became powerful and profound.  Remarkable breakthroughs happened for people.   Important insights came to me, including appreciating the word ‘discipleship’ much more than ‘ministry’ in the context of my healing path.   Worshiping in the morning with that group (before Bible study and then whatever workshop I was in that year- I was a part of John Calvi’s workshops 2 of those years)  further connected me and gave voice to what was coming in & through me.  For many years, I worked on as many different people in that week as I did the whole rest of the year.   The Healing Center became the focus of my times at the Gatherings.   It was the only time during the year that my healing path and my Quaker paths intersected.  I felt integrated and connected- to those around me and to God.

And, I felt frustration in year-by-year returning home with those feelings of integration and connection; just to have it fade away.  To not capture that same sense of respect, understanding, safety, collaboration, and connection in many of my other Quaker communities.  To not feel I was being a faithful enough steward of my gifts.   To not integrate my Quaker and healing activities.

I did not go to the FGC gathering summer of 2012.  It was far away (Rode Island).  I no longer had the incentive to stop over in Barnesville, Ohio; as I often had done when traveling east to FGC.  There was no camping available on campus, which has made the intense and often crowded experiences of Gathering much more peaceful & calm for me.  And I felt too busy & poor.  The first gathering I had missed since starting.

I did not go to this summer’s Gathering.   Many of the same reasons originally as last year; but then close-by camping became available.  I miss that group and those people.  I am confident that they miss me. I am not feeling as poor, but I was quite busy.  Going was not where I was.   I think I have lost the visceral memory of my times with the Healing Center.  Some of that visceral sense of connection around group healing endeavors returned to me in our healing group gathering May 11th.


The larger reason for my ambivalence is the realization that the real work, the real gifts, the real meanings; are in day-to-day interaction.  Not special experiences.   Not one time interactions or events.  Not unique situations outside of regular life.  Those can easily become distractions.  Connecting to God and the prophetic stream does not require a calm and tranquil mountaintop; but it does require (at least for me) focus and attention.  Discipline and habit.  Ideally within the gritty and unglamorous work of day-to-day life.

If aspects of my day-to-day life are not working right; I need to fix them or move on.  I need to be brutally honest with myself- about what is real, what is right, what is working, what is worth my time and efforts; and about what is more distraction, than core & foundational for me.   As Friends have often said; remove that which does not connect you to God, prune back that which is not the most important; to leave the time, the space, and the ability to make and keep sacred- that which is left.  Applied simplicity.

What IS a part of life, and part of my immediate future, it looks like, is our healing group.   It has now met several times, has monthly events scheduled through this fall; and is starting the slow and important process of building trust, safety, comfort, and connection.  With everyone sharing in the process, no one in charge or indispensible, an impressive level attendance, and capacity & strong potential for more participants.    I do not know its future.  I am doing a pretty good job of avoiding prediction or anticipation.  And also, of keeping out of the way of what is unfolding.  But, that it is unfolding SO solidly, with such a large, solid, and consistent group, and with such simplicity of planning & lack of drama; gives me the sense that we might well be flowing gently in the prophetic stream.  Time will probably tell.

Whatever results, everyone involved has been a blessing for me.

I continue to be open to new healing, body work, energy work, touch, and humor experiences.  Ideally, experiences that combine as many of those characteristics as possible.  I look forward to sharing some of those experiences with you. On-to-one or in a group setting. I invite you to reach out to me if that sounds appealing.

Healing, like Quakerism, is a collaborative endeavor.

Mike Conover           8/11/2013

Love Deeply

PR-057--SI---06_11_12-ROW-211Do not hesitate to love and to love deeply. You might be afraid of the pain that deep love can cause.

When those you love deeply reject you, leave you, or die, your heart will be broken. But that should not hold you back from loving deeply. The pain that comes from deep love makes your love ever mor fruitful. It is like a plow that breaks the ground to allow seed to take root and grow into a strong plant. Every time you experience the pain of rejection, absence, or death you are faced with a choice. You can become bitter and decide not to love again, or you can stand straight in your pain and let the soil on which you stand become richer and more able to give life to new seeds.

The more you have loved and allowed yourself to suffer because of your love, the more you will be able to let your heart grow wider and deeper. When your love is truly giving and receiving, those whom you love will not leave your heart even when the depart from you. They will become part of your self and thus gradually build a community within you.

Those you have loved deeply become part of you. The longer you live, there will always be more people to be loved by you and to become part of your inner community. The wider your inner community becomes, the more easily you will recognize you own brothers and sisters in the strangers around you. Those who are alive within you will recognize those who are alive around you. The wider the community of your heart, the wider the community around you. Thus the pain of rejection, absence, and death can become fruitful. Yes, as you love deeply the ground of your heart will be broken more and more, but you will rejoice in the abundance of the fruit it will bear.

Henri J.M. Nouwen ; The Inner Voice of Love