The eyes will not see that which breaks the heart.
To heal does not mean to cure. To heal is a process of becoming whole and thus an invitation to see the world anew and to enter into a more gratifying connection with life.
Every healing intervention is motivated by suffering and hope – be it of the individual, family, friends, or a community agency. The value within suffering is that it contains a message of incongruence that awakens the motivation to heal. William James wrote that life is the manifestation of behaviors that attempt to avoid, overcome, or remove what is believed to block us from that which we desire.
The motivation to heal requires the support of at least one companion who is able to listen with a compassionate and non-judgmental ear. Freud discussed a listening technique in which the attention is not directed towards anything in particular and is maintained with an evenly suspended attention to all that is presented. This manner of listening avoids the downfall of deliberate attention in which the listener is being guided by her own expectations or inclinations and thus selects what to listen for and what to disregard. Freud noted that when we follow our expectations, we will not hear anything but what we already know; and if we follow our inclinations, we will certainty falsify what we may perceive. “It must not be forgotten that the things one hears are for the most part things whose meaning is only recognized later on.”
The discontent that is presented during the initial meeting with a healing companion very often times is colored by, and hidden under, numerous layers of attempts to ease pain. Therefore, what occurs within the isolation of suffering is a compounding of the original problem. Overcoming the defenses that shield one from acknowledging suffering requires a presence similar to how a person standing beside a pure, limpid, serene pool of water contemplates the reflected surface images, observes the life within the water’s current, and notes the sediment’s composition; to do otherwise only serves to fortify protective shields such as rationalization, minimizing, justification, or defiance. It is postulated; therefore, that the effective resolution of presenting concerns within a therapeutic environment requires a relationship that intentionally begins with the comprehension and acceptance of one’s discontent “as it is.”
“As it is” initiates a settling of internal criticism and disturbing feelings similar to the descent of sediment within a pot of muddy water. Consequently, to simply listen to a feeling, belief, or behavior “as it arises and as it is” is believed to be an effective way to begin a process of unraveling entanglements of thoughts, emotions, and actions. It silences troublesome intrusions and invites accurate empathy, congruence, and unconditional positive regard into the environment. Thus both the person and healing companion are invited to emerge from their various shadows of anxiety, anger, grief, cravings, and confusion into a space of mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a non-judgmental and non-distracted presence that remains in the moment, moment by moment. This congruent presence is a prerequisite for the “letting in” and “being touched by the other” that is the essence of therapeutic empathy. What is not often acknowledged is the courage it takes for both client and healing companion to allow their defenses to fade in order for empathy to awaken as “being touched” has the potential to awaken each person’s vulnerabilities, loneliness, sadness, anxieties, shame, regret, anger, etc. Yet, when the barriers come down and the elements of mindfulness, empathy, and courage unite, a therapeutic environment is filled with creative, active, sensitive, and compassionate exchanges.
Nothing is hidden
It has always been clear as day
For divine wisdom; look at the old pine tree;
For eternal truth; listen to the birds sing;
Seeking the mind; there is no place to look;
Can you see the footprints of flying birds?
Above, not a single tile to shelter under,
Below, not a morsel of ground for support.~ Zenrin
 William James, The Principles of Psychology, (New York, 1890), 7-8, “Romeo wants Juliet as the filings want the magnet; and if no obstacles intervene he moves towards her by as straight line as they. But Romeo and Juliet, if a wall be built between them, do not remain idiotically pressing their faces against its opposite sides like the magnet and the filings, Romeo soon finds a circuitous way, by scaling the wall or otherwise, of touching Juliet’s lips directly. With the filings the path is fixed; where it reaches the end depends on accidents with intelligent agents, altering the conditions changes the activity displayed, but not the end reached; for here the idea of the yet unrealized end cooperates with the conditions to determine what the activities shall be.”
 Peter Gray, ed., The Freud Reader (New York, 1998), 357.