The Parabola Book of Healing introduction/Rituals of Healing: Using Imagery for Health and Wellness/Healing Words

The Parabola Book of Healing introduction by Lawrence E. Sullivan; Continuum/Parabola, 1994; hardcover, 252 pages.

Rituals of Healing: Using Imagery for Health and Wellness by Jeanne Achterberg, Barbara Dossey, and Leslie Kolkmeir; Bantam Books, 1994; paper, 360 pages.

Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine by Larry Dossey, M.D.; HarperSanFrancisco, 1993; hardcover, 291 pages.

Each of these very special books focuses on various components of the healing process. The Parabola Book of Healing combines material presented in Parabola magazine's special issue on healing (Spring 1993) with additional material to make this a truly memorable experience. The book is organized in five sections titled "Metaphors of Health and Healing," "Disability and Disease," "Doctors and Doctoring," "Medicine East and West," and "Letting Go." It includes personal accounts of healings and discussions of healing approaches.

The varied accounts are both thought provoking and healing in and of themselves. Most not able is the soulful account by Jacques Lusseyran, the blind French poet, who writes of how recollections and recitations of poetry created moments of grace, serenity, and union in the inhuman conditions of Buchenwald. Poetry became an unexpected way of connecting and healing, and created a soulful bond among those in a disconnected world.

Thomas A. Dooling's thoughtful discussion of the healing aspects of the law is well presented. Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese monk, writes on the transformation of suffering through mindfulness. Illness is presented as an opportunity to transform anger and suffering into a rose that can be offered in peace and service.

Rituals of Healing is a primer for the body/mind/spirit model of medicine, and should be required reading for any practitioner of the healing arts as well as those interested in self-healing techniques. It is concisely organized into eight parts, which skillfully guide the reader through the theory, concept, and practice of ritual and healing. The latter sections detail specific techniques for use with particular illnesses.

The section on "Successful Medical Tests and Surgery" is exceptional, and that on "Peaceful Dying" is realistic, compassionate, and eminently practical. The book not only skillfully educates, but in its gentle compassion shows there are many opportunities to heal the spirit in its journey toward wholeness.

Dr. Larry Dossey's book is destined to become a classic in the field. An internist and author of several books, Dossey has exhaustively researched the literature and presents a solid case for prayer in the practice of medicine. In reality, he has had to go the distance to prove what has long been known in clinical lore and to sensitive practitioners - that prayer is an important part of the healing process. He reports on numerous successes with healing both at close range and long distance, through the use of prayer and healing thoughts, whether known or unknown to the recipient.

He cites laboratory experiment s in which the growth of organisms was enhanced by the conscious thoughts of healers. When reading this eminently sensible practitioner, it is particularly difficult to realize that he is still a voice in the wilderness of the medical establishment , which by-and -large resists reuniting mysticism and medicine.