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  • Writer's pictureElke Siller Macartney

How to be a sneaky healer--and get away with it.

I think my career as a sneaky healer started in childhood. What, you’re not familiar with the concept? Well, its a thing. Really.

Anyway, simple discoveries at first, like smile at someone, get smile back. Then onto more complex moves involving the language of compliments: “That color is fabulous on you.” or “What a sweet dog you have there!” And so on…. More complexity of emotion was added later: Responses to sad faces or grimaces: “Are you doing ok?” Or “Life is hard sometimes isn’t it?” Followed by: “I have a feeling its going to be ok.” Or even: "Take a breath.”

And then there are celebration words: “woop woop!” Or “Yay for you!”— the latter said in Safeway the other day when a mom uttered her thanks to a toddler being patient in line. “Yay for you!”

Now you may wonder: What in the heck do a few silly words have to do with healing? I mean, Elke, how do you know? I don’t. That said, the primary needs for every human are to feel loved and cared for. The other primary need for a healthy life is to feel joy—a powerful force and source for healing.

In these days of hiding our facial expressions behind masks, as well as having only the briefest encounters possible while shopping or running errands, it is more challenging to send out positivity or calm or compassion. Yet that does not mean I don’t try. We need this connection now more than ever. And thus I remember to smile on Zoom meetings. And I pay attention when someone is sharing, and try my best to connect over what I call the “innernet.” Drawing up energy from my heart, I beam it out to the little boxes on my computer screen.

Lately, I remembered another sneaky way to heal people: dance with them. When quarantine came into full swing, it was beyond sad not to dance with people in person. At the free concerts in town, or in the gym I used to teach Zumba Gold in, people would say that they loved dancing with me or watching me dance: It brought them joy. In one of my Zumba classes, an elder came close to me after class, pointed her finger at me and declared: “You did some kind of healing on me up there, didn’t you?” To which I acknowledged that if she thought so, I most certainly did.

It probably was a glance or a wink or a smile or a thumbs up or some other typical move I make in class. But if it brought joy and healing, I’m all about it.

A few months ago, I got over my attitude about how Zoom or online teaching is a poor substitute for in-person classes. I watched YouTube videos on how to Zoom, bought a fancy mic, put my laptop on a cutting board, and started teaching Zumba from my kitchen. People showered me with thank you cards and donations to help fund my Zumba and Zoom fees. Sneaky healing through dance was happening again!

When my hubby died in August, I stopped dancing all together. I needed be in my grief, and I could not imagine joyful dancing again….especially fun party-like music. There would be no more “ayiyi!” And “woop woop!” from this gal. Nope.

And that was appropriate for a while. I needed the time and space.

Recently though, I realized how much I NEEDED to dance and interact with others. I need the connection and the joy of knowing I’m bringing joy and fitness to others. So, I cleaned up my kitchen, bought an even fancier mic, and put the computer back on the cutting board. Sneaky healing returned in full force!

I’m sure you have your ways of sneaky healing. Come on, I know you do. Crinkle your eyes in a smile behind your mask. Give compliments. Dance down the sidewalk on your walk. Beam out love for all to feel and see.

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