The Hebrew language is interesting to explore. Words are based on a root, a number of consonants; add vowels, prefixes and suffixes to the root, and you get verbs, nouns, adjectives and attributes all related to the same root.
For example, take the word “Shalom” - Peace, which has its root Shin, Lamed, Mem. Let’s see what words and expressions share the same root as Shalom, and if we can find a common meaning.
Shalom = Peace
Shalem = Whole, intact; also, the verb “to pay” le-shalem.
Shulam = paid for
Lehashlim = to complete; also, in a conflict, to make up, to make peace.
Hashlama = completion
Mushlam = completed; perfect
Let’s look at some common expressions using this root:
- Ma shlomcha? “How are you”, which is literally translated as “How is your peace”. The answer is either “Shlomi be seder” “My peace is in order”, meaning I am well, doing well; or “Shlomi lo kol-kach tov” - “My peace is not so well”, meaning I am not so well. Interesting to notice that your doctor won’t greet you asking about your health, which in Hebrew is “Briut”, but about your peace!
- Ani shalem im atzmi - “I am at peace with myself” which is literally translated as “I am whole, or in integrity with myself”
- Ani shalem im achlatati - “I am at peace (in integrity) with my decision. Or, the opposite, “Ani lo shalem I’m achlatati” meaning “I am not at peace / whole / in integrity with my decision”
It seems that peace, integrity, payment, completion and perfection all share the same root. What do you make of it?
Peace can be achieved when accounts are settled. To have peace there must be justice. When goods or services are offered in a transaction, they are offered for a just payment. When students attend their first level of Reiki classes, and learn about energy balance, they learn the importance of balancing giving and receiving, of replenishing one’s energy and receiving just payment for one’s service.
When a wrongdoing has caused harm, it must be corrected. In English we talk about forgiveness, but forgiveness can only be granted with the making of amends - “paying back”.
What about peace in one’s body and mind? In several of his YouTube Dharma talks, mindfulness meditation teacher Shinzen Young mentions that body pain is an experience that hasn’t been fully experienced. It hasn’t been completed. The Grinberg-method-informed bodywork that I have trained in is based on the same principle: chronic pain and symptoms are in fact emotional unfinished businesses, and the intervention used to accomplish change and “Peace” - Shalom, requires the experiential, embodied completion of that unfinished business, which may involve movement of the body, breathing, the sound of one’s voice, and often, uttering the words that needed to be spoken and had been silenced for years!
Bringing experiences to completion - lehashlim - in order to achieve peace - shalom - is a common principle in a number of healing methods that I work with:
- TIR - Trauma Incident Reduction requires the client to articulate an experience that still carries an emotional charge, going over the same story until peace is achieved and felt in the body.
- The bodywork that I do is inspired by the Grinberg method (holistic reflexology) and Vipassana (body-centred awareness). The healing student learns how to meet and touch upon an embodied experience, and bring it to completion in a cycle of feeling and expressing, reaching its climax, and then letting go and releasing.
- In constellation work family members’ representatives say to each other meaningful words that needed to be said, in order to achieve peace.
- In voice dialogue, a person’s ‘selves’, or sub-personalities, are given a voice in order to achieve a greater degree of integrity in the self. Shadow work, and integrating disowned parts of the psyche, is the journey from fragmentation to integrity, and thus, to peace.
- Journaling is one of the most accessible practices of articulating and completing experiences.
One word root, one philosophy, and such profound life implications! When there is turbulence, war and disease, there is fragmentation, disconnect, imbalance between giving and receiving, between wrong-doing and payback, payments that haven’t been made, words that haven’t been spoken, feelings that haven’t been felt. Peace, balance, wholeness, integrity and (relative) perfection are different words depicting the same thing.