Making Friends With Illness

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Many times in my life when I have felt ill (dizzy, coming down with a cold, a migraine, a back spasm, etc.), if I could drop everything, retreat to a place without distractions and simply express my feelings and sensations without censorship (often through journaling and crying), I frequently recovered completely within a couple of hours–all symptoms gone. Usually this process has been accompanied by an important consciousness shift or insight. It is as if my being insists on my full attention, surrender and cooperation, and once it has it, all is well.

Quantum physics and many spiritual traditions tell us that matter is not solid. It is malleable energy. If we can tap into this energetic level of reality, we can shift the processes in our bodies remarkably quickly. At the same time, matter IS solid on another level. We are both, in the same way that light is a both a particle and a wave, depending on the circumstances. It all depends upon what level you are tapping into.

In my experience, being on the verge of illness usually includes some component of emotional/somatic information (as well as viral, bacterial, etc). One way to view this is that your body has a story that insists on being heard. So when you are ill, you can assume that something important—something that your being cares about deeply–is trying to express itself through the symptoms.

Something amazing becomes possible when we give ourselves permission to unplug from clock-time, obligations and tasks—even for two hours–and allow ourselves to surrender completely to feeling and expressing the sensations of illness. We can do this by resting, crying, journaling, yelling, emoting (without judging or censoring what emotions are coming out) dancing, singing, drawing, painting, etc.

When we let go of our agenda to “feel better” or “hurry up and get better” and simply let the sensations speak their truth; when we can suspend the need to “make sense” or be “rational;” we invite transformation and healing. Often once the body’s story is fully told and the body feels “heard” the symptoms of illness resolve and disappear, sometimes in minutes or hours.

Of course, such physical resolution does not always occur. The layers of a chronic or serious illness can be decades old and profound, and may take a great deal of time and energy to heal—we might need to set aside time each day for this process. Sometimes complete healing requires more time and energy than we have left.

When illness is related to trauma, the most intolerable aspects of that trauma may be too much for us to face and express alone. Perhaps our healing requires relationship and community—maybe asking for help is the kind of healing we need the most.

Finally, there is the Mysterious aspect of healing: we may long for physical healing, but we cannot control life; sometimes instead of bodily healing, we receive insight, wisdom, compassion, or a deep empathy with the suffering of all beings. In any case, allowing and expressing whatever sensations and feelings we can access on our own usually does no harm and some good.

If you want to experiment with this approach, here is what I recommend: next time you are feeling ill, and you can spare a couple of hours (or perhaps your body has already forced you to give it your full attention!), “try on” the notion that your body is trying to express something important. Drop everything and set the intention of listening to your sensations with your entire heart and mind. Listen and express (emote, write, sing, dance, etc.) for a couple of hours.

If you don’t know where to start, a good way is to describe your sensations (not your opinions or interpretations about your sensations!) by writing or talking or making up a song on the spot: “My tummy hurts, oh it hurts, and I don’t like it, and I have things to do, things to do, and I am frustrated, and my tummy hurts, oh yes it does..” etc. Point at your tummy, rub your tummy, wave your arms, etc. Do not censor yourself, instead just follow and express the sensations and moods as they unfold: “I feel silly doing this, I feel silly, and my tummy hurts…blah blah blah.”

If this is not something you have time to do in the moment, then talk to your body and promise it you will attend to this later, after you have taken care of your immediate tasks.
Pick a time when you can set aside time/space to deeply listen to attend to your body, promise your body you will do it then, and follow through! Our bodies can be very forgiving and understanding when we demonstrate our trustworthiness by following through.

Does this resonate with your own experience of illness?
I invite you to share your comments and stories.

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