The concept of the medicine wheel or healing circle is one that spans human history and multiple cultures from all over the world. A Native American healing tradition, the medicine wheel is a path to spirituality and a symbolic representation of the cycles of life and the mysteries of the universe. It is a means to balance, knowledge, connection and empowerment. The medicine wheel is a place to meditate, pray, reflect, contemplate, gain insight and strengthen one’s connection with the totality of all life.
The first medicine wheels were stone artifacts built by Native Americans who lived in what is now the northwestern U.S. and southwestern Canada. The famous psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung used the circle or mandala in treatment. This tradition has been used to enhance health and spirituality for centuries.
Most modern versions of the medicine wheel emphasize the need for harmony and balance, both within oneself and in more universal terms. The wheel may symbolize the ephemeral nature of life, ongoing personal growth and the desire for wholeness. Each of the four spokes has a unique meaning for every individual — stages of life or the four seasons, for example. The center represents perfect balance between the four surrounding elements.
How Does the Medicine Wheel Help?
The medicine wheel is especially helpful for individuals who find it challenging to meditate indoors, but who thrive outdoors. Clients are able to connect with nature and honor difficult feelings and insights as they arise. Moving outside a traditional therapeutic setting can promote growth and help people feel grounded and connected to something bigger than themselves. The medicine wheel in its natural setting beckons to clients to be authentic at their own pace.
Benefits of Medicine Wheel
The Medicine Wheel helps people understand the cyclic nature of life. Within the wheel, people can find pleasure, addiction, depression, anxiety or ungrounded thinking as part of their individual human experience. The circle can also help them realize difficult aspects of life are deeply connected to positive ones. Benefits include:
- Increased happiness
- Enhanced spirituality
- Improved mood
- Greater mind-body connection
- Deeper introspection and insights
- Greater self-discovery of core gifts
- Connectivity to something bigger than self