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The healing moment: A heuristic study of the lived experience of healing of a select group of women of midlife

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2009
Dissertation
Author: Margarita Barman VanLerberghe
Abstract:
This purpose of this study was to illuminate and find meaning in the phenomenon of the "healing moment" through the context of the lived experience of healing of a select group of women of midlife. "Healing," for the purpose of this study, is regarded holistically, and refers to the physical, mental, social, and spiritual processes of transformation that lead to the increase of wholeness, order, and coherence of the individual. "Healing," used in this context. may or may not involve the physical curing of disease or illness. The methodology used in the study was the heuristic process. The data analysis of this heuristic study includes aspects of the primary researcher's experience of the "healing moment" interwoven with that of the participants/co-researchers. In this study, the individual stories of healing were collected through in-depth interviews with five women between the ages of 42 and 60. An individual depiction of each woman's lived experience of healing was created, with particular focus on her experience of the "healing moment," i.e., the moment or time when she felt her healing began, or was set into motion. From there, a composite depiction was created which included the qualities, themes, and essences that comprise the universal nature of the meaning of the women's experiences of the "healing moment." Finally, through the utilization of the heuristic process in analyzing the data, a creative synthesis was written, taking the form of a poem which represented the themes and nuances of the collective experience of the co-researchers' "healing moment." From the analysis of the midlife women's experience of the "healing moment" within the context of the lived experience of healing, several relevant themes emerged, both in the participants/co-researchers state of mind leading them into the "healing moment," and in the actual occurrence of the "healing moment" The emergent themes of the experience were: acknowledgment of pain; willingness to heal; surrender or relinquishment of control over life situation(s); open mind; request for help; suspension of rational mind; clarity; realization of truth; forgiveness; self-acceptance; and spiritual interconnectedness. This current study contributes to the understanding and clarification of the phenomenon of spiritual healing.

Table of Contents Acknowledgements v Chapter I Introduction Introduction 1 Background of the Study 2 Rationale for the Study 4 Statement of the Problem and Research Question 5 Definition of Terms 7 Summary 9 Chapter II Review of the Literature Introduction 10 Women's Healing 11 Women's Historic Role in Healing Leading to Women's Need for Healing 12 How Women Heal Themselves and Others 14 The Healing Moment 18 The Holy Instant: A Course in Miracles 18 The Numinous 23 Therapeutic Touch 26 The Healing Moment in Spirituality and Religion 28 The Healing Moment in Psychology and Psychotherapy 31 Healing Research and the Need for this Study 34 Summary 38 Chapter III Research Methods Introduction 40 Heuristic Research 40 Co-Researchers: Criteria and Recruitment 44 Method of Inquiry and Procedure 47 Data Analysis and Reporting of Findings 50 Creative Synthesis 53 Research Ethics 54 ii

My Role as Co-Researcher Summary Chapter IV Findings Introduction Individual Depictions Martha Marguerite Bonnie Brandy Mary The Spectrum of Healing Individual Themes Composite Depiction The Healing Moment: Core Theme Explication State of Mind Leading into the Healing Moment Core Theme 1: Acknowledgment of Pain Core Theme 2: Willingness to Heal Core Theme 3: Surrender: Relinquishment of Control over Life Situation(s) Core Theme 4: Open Mind Core Theme 5: Request: Asking for Help from a "Higher Power" Characteristics: What Happened in the Healing Moment Core Theme 6: Suspension of Rational Mind Core Theme 7: Clarity Core Theme 8: Realization of Truth Core Theme 9: Forgiveness Core Theme 10: Self-Acceptance Core Theme 11: Spiritual Connectedness Creative Synthesis Summary 54 56 57 58 59 67 80 95 107 119 121 123 127 128 128 129 129 129 130 130 130 131 131 132 132 134 iii

Chapter V Discussion Introduction 135 Relationship of the Findings to Existing Scholarly Literature 135 Implications from the History of Women's Healing 137 The Healing Moment: Implications from Theoretical Perspectives 140 The Holy Instant 140 The Numinous 144 Therapeutic Touch 146 The Healing Moment: Spiritual and Religious Perspectives 148 The Healing Moment: Perspectives of Psychology and Psychotherapy 150 The Healing Moment: Summary of Relationships to Scholarly Literature 151 Implications of the Study 153 Suggestions for Future Research 157 Assumptions, Limitations, and Generalizations of the Study 158 Final Analysis 160 References 162 Appendix A Initial Contact Letter 172 Appendix B Letter of Confirmation 174 Appendix C Informed Consent Form 177 Appendix D Demographic Survey 179 Appendix E Initial Interview Guide 181 Appendix F American Psychological Association Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct 183 Appendix G Relaxation/Meditation Activity 188 Appendix H Follow-Up Interview Guide 191 Appendix I Union Institute & University - Institutional Review Board Approval Letter 193 IV

Acknowledgements It is with a grateful and loving heart that I extend my deepest thanks to those who have walked with me, in body, mind, and spirit, throughout this project. I begin by acknowledging the five women whose stories were the heart of this research. Through their courage, trust, and vulnerability, an important contribution has been made to the healing of all women, everywhere. I am both humbled and strengthened by their wisdom and generosity. Their stories and their healing have become a part of me. Dr. Judy Lamp, Dr. Alex Thomas, Dr. Larry Dossey, and Dr. Kathleen Campbell, my doctoral committee members, have encouraged and inspired me through these years with their deep kindness, breathtaking scholarship, and genuine desire to help me to succeed. Their confidence in me nurtured my confidence in myself. Dr. Willson Williams, my core professor, held my feet to the path while freeing my mind to take flight. She has modeled for me the essence of scholarly wisdom, integrity, and professionalism. While in her presence, in any form, I've always felt in the company of love, pure and simple. Additionally, I thank Dr. Galit Atlas-Koch, Sr. Shannon Schrein, Dr. Robert McAndrews, and Jane Held for their important and continued support, as well as my dear friend Sr. Mary Jo Mike, whose spiritual counsel and friendship have sustained me for many, many years. I am grateful to my extended family and friends, who have been a wonderful source of understanding, enthusiasm, warmth and humor during this time. My brother, Dr. Tim Barman, and my sister, Connie Ramsay have patiently listened to my ideas, followed my progress, and have always believed in me and supported my aspirations. I am truly blessed to have them as family. I am profoundly grateful to my parents Bart and Rita Barman, whose physical presence is greatly missed, but whose spiritual presence is evidenced daily. They were my first teachers, planting the seeds of love, knowledge, patience, and compassion. They continue to sustain and support me on many levels. My daughter Molly, all sweetness and light - now, woman and deeply respected friend - has contributed her candid, astute, and loving feedback throughout this project. Her insight has proven invaluable, and right on target. Finally, I acknowledge and thank my husband Dale, who is my foundation. He v

has extended unbelievable support, compassion, and understanding for me and for the soul and essence of this project and my doctoral program. "Words cannot touch" the depth of my gratitude, nor the enormity of the love I feel, as we pause, together in this moment.

Chapter I: Introduction Introduction The title of this study is The Healing Moment: A Heuristic Study of the Lived Experience of Healing of a Select Group of Women of Midlife. Since "healing" is a term used widely and in many contexts, it is fundamentally important to clarify how the term is being used within the context of this study. According to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (2003), the verb "heal" is defined as "to make sound or whole; to restore to health; to restore to an original state of purity; to return to a sound state" (p. 574). The Samueli Institute Definitions and Standards of Healing Research Committee has approved the following definition for "healing" as it is used in the field of healing research: "those physical, mental, social, and spiritual processes of recovery, repair, renewal, and transformation that increase wholeness, and often (though not invariably), order and coherence. Healing is an emergent process of the whole system and may or may not involve curing" (Dossey, L., 2003, p. Al 1). With both of these definitions in mind, it is vital in the understanding of this study to note that the term "healing" is used in a holistic sense. That is, the term is used to refer to the return to, restoration of, or transformation to the "whole" person, and not limited to any one aspect of the person: physical, mental, emotional, relational, or otherwise. The experiences of healing examined in this study are of women who, by their own appraisal, have had the experience of returning to or transforming into or toward a state of wholeness, which may include order and coherence. The experiences may or may not encompass curing of physical, psychological, relational, spiritual, or other illnesses or disruptions. Having preliminarily clarified these parameters, I turn to a summary explanation of the origin and evolution of the 1

study. Background of the Study The notion of and curiosity behind this study originated from a highly personal experience that spilled over into the realization that, while not necessarily universal, the experience was not uncommon. More than 20 years ago, during what was, for my family and me, a time of great emotional pain and chaos brought on by my own misguided behavior, I experienced a "healing moment." At the time it took place, I did not recognize the occurrence of the incident (i.e., the "healing moment") as such. Only years later, upon crossing the threshold of midlife, when my life and that of my family had obtained a comfortable level of "order and coherence" (Dossey, L., 2003, p. Al 1), was I able to recognize and acknowledge that this "moment" and the circumstances surrounding it was set off as a landmark in my healing passage. As I examined the progression of my life and my healing through the lenses of psychotherapy, journaling, meditation, and spiritual practice, I came to realize that this "healing moment" represented the precise instant that my healing began; when my healing was set into motion. To borrow from the concise language of one of my study participants: "it [the healing moment] was when I stopped getting worse and started getting better." When viewed in the retrospect of my continuing process of healing, my life can be elementally divided into two parts: before the healing moment and after the healing moment. To this day I am able to describe every detail about the physical surroundings and my emotional and physical state at the time the healing moment occurred, yet the moment itself has always, at its deepest place, remained in many ways, a mystery to me. A Course in Miracles (FIP, 1975a), which has served as my primary spiritual practice for the past 15 2

years, speaks throughout its pages of the concept of "the holy instant." While the holy instant could be considered a metaphysical model for the healing moment, and is examined in detail in the literature review of this document, my lived experience of the healing moment continued to contain a dimension of ineffability; it was a transcendence of words, perhaps even of human comprehension. A few years ago, toward the end of a lengthy and fulfilling career as a school guidance counselor, with a colleague, I began a weekly, evening support group for women of midlife (like me) who had a teen-age child or children. This group was an adjunct to my work with teen-agers and we referred to it as a "confidential discussion group." Within the emotionally-safe haven and encouragement of the group, many of the women shared their personal "stories" of healing: physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual. Remarkable to me was that within the context of their healing stories most of these women could directly recall the time, the circumstances, or the situation in which their healing began, or was set into motion. I realized then, that in my experiencing of the "healing moment," I was not alone. Therefore, I concluded: in our individual healing journeys, many women were/are able to retrospectively identify a definitive "healing moment." Maybe if we worked together and shared with loving intent, our stories, experiences, thoughts, feelings, and perceptions of what took place inside and outside of that moment, our collective healing could "take in" other women who are in need of healing. Maybe by illuminating the phenomenon of the "healing moment," through the revealing context of the healing process, we could make a contribution informing and supporting the healing of the whole of midlife women of the planet. This manuscript represents the preparation, process, content, and findings of this 3

undertaking. Rationale for the Study With this research project, it is my intention to study midlife women's experiences of healing as previously defined. Of particular interest is to elucidate within those experiences a phenomenon that I refer to as "the healing moment," which is the healee's perception of the moment when her healing began and was set into motion. Women who have had a personal healing experience have much to share with women who are still in need of healing. Healing in all modalities, whether it is physical, emotional, psychological, or relational, begins at the spiritual level. As Stein (1996) states, we are healed "from the inside out" (p. 12). Sometimes this healing includes the actual "curing" of disease or removal of adverse medical conditions; other times, it does not (Dossey, L., 2003). It has been my experience that most who have had the experience of healing (i.e., healees) have found that these experiences were actually healing processes, in that the indications of the healing have become evident over a period of time and often continue to evolve, sometimes throughout a lifetime. However, other healees maintain that their healing experience was instantaneous, with transformation occurring simultaneously with a spiritual experience. From the reporting of those who have had the experience of healing, it was my hypothesis going into this study that most every healing has a "moment" or an "instant" that the healee can recall, in which her healing was set into motion. Often, the healee was not aware of it happening at the time it took place, but was able in hindsight to recall her own physical, emotional, and spiritual consciousness, as though the moment was framed outside of time. My belief was that one of the major components of the healing moment is what A Course in Miracles calls "a little willingness" (FIP, 1975a) on the part of the healee, which 4

manifests as an opening of the mind to a moment of perfect communication with the Divine, however named. While there exists significant theory and literature within the disciplines of spirituality/religion and psychology/psychotherapy that shed light on the nature of the phenomenon of the "healing moment" (however named), which will be reviewed in depth in Chapter II of this document, there have been no scholarly studies that captured the phenomenon as a lived experience within the context of healing. Because the experience and the explanation of the healing moment is often described in the literature as well as in personal experience as "ineffable" or "beyond words," the heuristic approach, with its "creative synthesis," seemed a possible way of capturing a phenomenon that is in many ways inexpressible. If we are to answer the call for more qualitative research to inform the domain of spiritual healing (Benor, 2001, 2004,2006), and if we are to use and share our experiences to assist others in their own healing journeys (Bolen, 2005), it became evident that there was value to the examination of, through a heuristic study, the phenomenon of the "healing moment" through the lived-experience of healing. Statement of the Problem and Research Question This study addresses and examines the following question: Within the context of the lived experience of healing of a select group of women of midlife, what is the experience of the "healing moment"? The purpose of the research is, through the examination of the lived experience of healing of a select group of women of midlife, to illuminate and ultimately capture the individual experience of the "healing moment" or "holy instant." Through the use of heuristic methodology (Moustakas, 1990), which is described in detail in Chapter III of this document, 5

in addition to my role as primary investigator, my own lived experience of healing has been contributed to the body of data that was collected, analyzed, synthesized, and incorporated into the findings of this study. It has been through my own personal experience of healing, followed by my work with the earlier mentioned women's group, that I have developed fervent interest in this research question. Among other criteria, Moustakas (1990) states that "All heuristic inquiry begins with ... a passionate desire to know, a devotion and commitment to pursue a question that is strongly connected to one's own identity and selfhood" (p. 40). As has been suggested by Feild (1979), my narrowing of the problem of the healing experience to the specific phenomenon of the "healing moment" or "holy instant" was based on my continuing study of, and commitment to practice of A Course in Miracles (FIP, 1975a), the concept of which is discussed in depth in Chapter II: Review of the Literature. The unearthing and elucidation of the phenomenon of the "healing moment" within the context of the lived experience of healing was guided through the following explanation and questions that were posed to the participants/co-researchers: The success of this qualitative study will be dependent upon illumination of all aspects of your healing experience, with specific emphasis on the phenomenon of "the healing moment." In the context of this study, when we refer to "healing" we mean a process of the whole system in which you recovered or transformed to your original state of wholeness, after something (e.g., illness, event, victimization, relationship) disrupted that original state. "Healing," used in this way, may or may not involve "curing." The initial interview focused on the following questions which were used as a guide for our exploration: 1. From what were you healed? Within your healing, were you "cured?" 2. Going back as far as necessary, and in as much detail as possible, please describe your healing experience or tell me the "story of your healing." Please include everything you can think of about the experience. 3. Upon reflection, was there an event, an occurrence, or a thought that signified the beginning of your healing process? If so, please describe it in its entirety. 4. Put another way, could you say there was a "healing moment" or even a "holy 6

instant" in your healing experience? This might be a time, situation, or occurrence on which you reflect and now realize it was a "turning point" in your healing. If so, please describe it in detail. Include a description of the physical surroundings or occurrences at the time. Most importantly, what were your psychological and spiritual states of mind or being at the time? 5. What else should I know about your experience that will better enable me to understand it? Definition of Terms In the research field of healing, lack of a common taxonomy and vocabulary is a problem (Dossey, L., 2002). With this in mind, it is essential, in order to establish a common understanding of its taxonomy, to define the frequently used terms of this study in relation to the definitions used by the authorities in the field of healing. Spiritual Healing. "Spiritual healing is an ancient, widespread, and heterogeneous group of practices in which one individual or group attempts to influence the health of another without overt physical contact" (as cited in Jonas, 2003, p. 451). This definition is cited by Wayne Jonas (2003), director of the Samueli Institute for Information Biology, which funds and supports research into alternative healing, and is attributed to Daniel Benor and Larry Dossey, both of whom are recognized authorities in the field of healing research. Healing. Healing is "those physical, mental, social, and spiritual processes of recovery, repair, renewal, and transformation that increase wholeness, and often (though not invariably), order and coherence. Healing is an emergent process of the whole system and may or may not involve curing" (Dossey, L., 2003, p. Al 1). This definition for healing is the current definition derived and approved by the Samueli Definitions and Standards of Healing Research committee, of which Larry Dossey served as committee chairman (Dossey, L., 2003). Spirituality. Spirituality is "the feelings, thoughts, experiences, and behaviors that arise from 7

a search for that which is generally considered sacred or holy. Spirituality is usually, though not universally, considered to involve a sense of connection with an absolute, imminent, or transcendent spiritual force, however named, as well as the conviction that meaning, value, direction, and purpose are valid aspects of the universe" (Dossey, L., 2003, p. A12). This definition for spirituality is the current definition derived and approved by the Samueli Definitions and Standards of Healing Research committee. The Healing Moment. Since a substantive purpose of this study is to illuminate all aspects of the "healing moment" as it exists within the lived experience of healing, the function of this section is simply to situate the concept within an appropriate context for the study. "The healing moment," for the purposes of this study, is used as an umbrella term. It combines the above definition of "healing" (Dossey, L., 2003) with the definition of a "moment," as taken from an early interdisciplinary study of the phenomenon by James Roy King (1986) published in the Journal of Religion and Health: "[a moment i s ]... a very short segment of time, so short indeed, as to be generally immeasurable; so distinctive in structure and flavor as to lie essentially outside time; so intricately woven of diverse elements as to be virtually undefmable" (p. 207). The "healing moment" may refer to the "moment" when healing begins and is set into motion; it may refer to the healee's perception of when this happened; or it may refer to the "moment" of seeming timelessness, when healing not only begins but is carried to completion (dos Santos, 2003). For the purpose of investigation, other designations of the phenomenon of the "healing moment" include but are not limited to: the "holy instant" (FIP, 1975a), "the numinous" (Otto, 1923), and "miracle moment" (dos Santos, 2003). Forgiveness. Forgiveness is the noun form of the verb "forgive." As used in the context of 8

this study, particularly in reference to the reported experiences of the participants/co- researchers, to "forgive" is "to cease to feel resentment against (an offender)" (Merriam- Webster, 2003, p. 491). Summary In this chapter, I began by clarifying the use of the term "healing" as it pertains to and is used in this study. I also discussed the background and development of my interest in the dissertation topic as well as relating the process leading to identifying the particular research question. I stated the primary intention of the study, and presented a rationale for my selection of heuristic research for the investigative methodology. Key terms used throughout the study were also defined. In Chapter II, I summarize, interpret, and discuss, in relationship to the research question, the existing professional literature within the context of this study in the disciplines of: spirituality and religion, psychology and psychotherapy, holistic healing, women's studies, and related fields. 9

Chapter II: Review of the Literature Introduction A review of the existing professional literature within the context of this study of healing and the healing moment was conducted in the disciplines of: spirituality and religion, psychology and psychotherapy, holistic healing, and women's studies. The following computerized databases were utilized: • Academic Search Premier • Contemporary Women's Issues (CWI) • Dissertation Abstracts International • Gender Inn • Google Scholar B Info Trac OneFile • JSTOR • ProQuest • PsychARTICLES • PsychBOOKS • PsychlNFO • WorldCat The key terms and phrases used in the literature search included: healing, holy, holy instant, healing moment, moment of healing, spiritual healing, healing theory, healing conditions, women healing, restoration of health, healing process, healing essence, numinous, wholeness, miracles, A Course in Miracles. I also searched the names of individual theorists and researchers in psychology/psychotherapy, spirituality/religion, 10

healing research, and women's studies, all in relation to my research question. Among the scholarly journals in which I found recent, related research are: Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, Counseling and Values, Anglican Theological Review, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Journal of Parapsychology, Journal of Religion and Health, Journal of Women and Religion, Person Centered Review, and Spirituality and Health International. As stated in Chapter I, for the purposes of this study, "healing" is defined as "those physical, mental, social, and spiritual processes of recovery, repair, renewal, and transformation that increase wholeness, and often (though not invariably) order and coherence. Healing is an emergent process of the whole system and may or may not involve curing" (Dossey, L., 2003). Because of my focus on "healing," by definition I did not include studies from categories of medicine or science that centered on the physiological aspects of the curing of disease. While reading this review, it is necessary to keep in mind that there is significant overlap and intersection in these categories, so that they often seem "blended" (e.g., "spiritual psychology"). This made it occasionally difficult to decide in which section to discuss a particular study. Women's Healing Since this study was conducted with the purpose of advancing the knowledge of healing, particularly as it pertains to women, the first category I examined and will summarize in this review of the relevant literature is the category of research and studies that have been conducted on women in the area of healing. Again, I did not include medical studies in this review, as my objective is not to focus on the curing of illness or disease, but 11

to focus on "healing" as defined in the previous section of this document. Let us begin by briefly examining the history of women in healing. Women's Historic Role in Healing Leading to Women's Need for Healing To examine the history of healing is to examine the history of women's role as healer and in the field of healing. Dating as far back as 8000 BCE in ancient Sumer (located near modern Iraq), burial artifacts inform us that the healers of the time were women. Healing has been considered a divine function everywhere and in every time. Only those created in the image of the Divine were sanctioned as healers. Women healers enjoyed the height of their recognition around 2000 BCE in ancient Greece and Denmark, and at varying times after that with a major emphasis on the use of botanicals and spirituality in healing practices (Achterberg, 1990). Duff (1993) provides a succinct summary of what happened to women in their role as healers in the Western world and what shaped that role in the centuries to come: The traditional folk healers of Western Europe, who were mostly women, employed a variety of tools to address the unique needs of each sick person, invoking deities, examining dreams, giving massages, preparing herbal remedies, special diets, discussing problems with the family, and performing curing rituals. However, their allegiances with the poor, and their popularity among the peasant classes, earned them the wrath of the ruling classes, and most were killed - or driven underground - during the witch hunts of the 14th and 15th centuries. The male profession of medicine, based on a scientific worldview, rose to take their place, (p. 52) The literature elucidating the history of women healers is exquisite and extensive. The intricacies of the evolution of religion and politics involved in the progression of the 12

history lend to the elemental foundation of knowledge necessary to proceed with this study (Achterberg, 1990; Duff, 1993; Ehrenreich & English, 1973; Mijares, 2003). Women healers, studied and written about by women researchers, segue naturally to the phenomenon of the healing of women. The need of women to heal themselves and others (i.e., to be restored to wholeness after the disruption of wholeness or peace of mind through illness, victimization, addiction, relationship, etc.) has only recently begun to be understood through a historical context with the excavation of evidence of the divinity and healing powers of women, with special attention paid to the development of professions in nursing and midwifery (Achterberg, 1990; Dossey, B. M, 2000; Ehrenreich & English, 1973; Mijares, 2003). As the cosmology of civilization progressed from hunter-gatherer to agrarian to technological (Wilber, 2000), the image of God shifted from nurturing, earth-wise, compassionate mother to that of authoritative, punishing, monotheistic male. Under this cosmology, women were subjugated in deference to the "power needs" of men (Achterberg, 1990, p. 12). The wake of this shift in cosmology was the persecution and murder of women healers, particularly those in the healing arts professions of nursing and midwifery. They were commonly regarded as "witches" or thought to be possessed by demons (Wainwright, 2006). This era spanned more than four centuries (14th thru 17th) throughout Europe and is well-documented (Ehrenreich & English, 1973). Notably, throughout this time of persecution, women maintained substantive yet secretive roles as healers, and therefore have been undercounted in this capacity in the traditional annals of history (Fissell, 2008). Modern science now suggests that DNA carries the memory of human experiences. It follows that as women, we may genetically remember, on an often unconscious level, these 13

Full document contains 201 pages
Abstract: This purpose of this study was to illuminate and find meaning in the phenomenon of the "healing moment" through the context of the lived experience of healing of a select group of women of midlife. "Healing," for the purpose of this study, is regarded holistically, and refers to the physical, mental, social, and spiritual processes of transformation that lead to the increase of wholeness, order, and coherence of the individual. "Healing," used in this context. may or may not involve the physical curing of disease or illness. The methodology used in the study was the heuristic process. The data analysis of this heuristic study includes aspects of the primary researcher's experience of the "healing moment" interwoven with that of the participants/co-researchers. In this study, the individual stories of healing were collected through in-depth interviews with five women between the ages of 42 and 60. An individual depiction of each woman's lived experience of healing was created, with particular focus on her experience of the "healing moment," i.e., the moment or time when she felt her healing began, or was set into motion. From there, a composite depiction was created which included the qualities, themes, and essences that comprise the universal nature of the meaning of the women's experiences of the "healing moment." Finally, through the utilization of the heuristic process in analyzing the data, a creative synthesis was written, taking the form of a poem which represented the themes and nuances of the collective experience of the co-researchers' "healing moment." From the analysis of the midlife women's experience of the "healing moment" within the context of the lived experience of healing, several relevant themes emerged, both in the participants/co-researchers state of mind leading them into the "healing moment," and in the actual occurrence of the "healing moment" The emergent themes of the experience were: acknowledgment of pain; willingness to heal; surrender or relinquishment of control over life situation(s); open mind; request for help; suspension of rational mind; clarity; realization of truth; forgiveness; self-acceptance; and spiritual interconnectedness. This current study contributes to the understanding and clarification of the phenomenon of spiritual healing.