I had insomnia by 3, anxiety by 10 and depression by 14. By my 20’s I couldn’t stand up for days at a time and in my 30’s I couldn’t walk for weeks at a time. Yet here I am with my body and soul intact.
It’s so easy for us to dislike the body. It’s too fat, old, short, tired, painful or sick.
But in truth your body is your closest ally.
It is through your body that you feel, love, give, receive, experience and enjoy life. This friend has been with you from the start, has never abandoned you and will be with you till the very end. It is your dearest teacher.
Our relationship to life is felt through the lens of the body. For most people their life feels very much dependent on what they can do or get. And we suffer when our body suffers. The American Dream for example is certainly not to be quietly content with what you have in the moment. Most of us are living life like it’s a “to do” list. Check off this country, those schools, 6 figures. And aging is not a process we savor. Middle aged women are not hailed as particularly sexy and men are worth something if they can get things done and make money.
Yet it is possible to not be limited by the body.
I have had a special privilege in this life to have failing health while still having enough support to be able to learn from this -and offer what I’ve learned to others.The vast majority of people on our planet are in deep pain and suffering due to their bodies not getting what it needs. This is very real and they’re suffering is real. But for the minority of us who have the privilege to have a foot out of that level of suffering it is possible to thrive, even if our body is sick. (To be clear I do not mean that it is easy or desirable having a body that is ill. And for most of us we never stop looking into ways to heal the body).
Here are some of the things those of us with chronic illness and an earnest interest in healing learn:
The intrapsychic worlds are vast. Angels, energy, long distance healing, many dimensions, miracles, parallel lifetimes, other timelines, other worlds, energetic lay lines, morphogenetic fields, sacred geometry, channeling, mediumship, speaking with the dead etc etc….These are the norm for us.
Life isn’t linear or boring. A year ago I stopped being able to drive, hopefully not permanently. And for the first 3 months I didn’t leave the house. I basically occupied my living room. What I learned was that life came to me! In addition I have had many adventures due to my illness. I spent a few months and had psychic surgery in Brazil with John of God for example, I got married in the Daime church, when I travel I’m not a tourist I essentially move somewhere for a few weeks and soak it up, and I have certainly met many incredible and unusual people…and whoa, the number of healing techniques I have experienced firsthand!
Life supports us. Again I want to be clear that I am not glossing over that severity of what is happening around the globe with homelessness, trafficking, starvation, refugees, war and disease. But for those reading this…life supports us. Those first 3 months my 10 year old still needed to get to school, and she did, everyday. We needed food, and we had it. And it almost always came from people we didn’t expect. It didn’t come from family or even necessarily close friends. For many months a new friend who offered to bring food dropped it off once a week. This has consistently, dare I say reliably, been true in my life: The people you would think would help don’t necessarily, and others show up! And then there’s just these moments when we have inner fullness. We don’t feel burdened, we have faith and we see beauty everywhere, regardless of how our body feels.
Connection. Is everywhere. It arrives during long hours spent in bed, it arrives delivering food, it arrives by text all the time, in shows up in an online support group, the trees give it when you spend 5 weeks laying under them, it comes every morning when you wake up, again, in physical pain. It also arrives in the form of synchronicity after synchronicity when we are quiet enough and not filling our hours with constant busyness. I am at the point where I now don’t call or text people. I know that if I think of them they will contact me. I also know that having a body that is ill actually connects me to my fellow humans. It is minority of people that it separates me from.
Healing. Along those lines is also the fact of people and beings that show up for healing. (Just yesterday I found some detailed writing from an aboriginal elder I channeled while I lived in Australia, Just….WOW). When we are quiet, when we are open and available, many levels of suffering show up asking for healing. I know for a fact that if I was running around achieving what society says I should be that I would not be seeing or helping at the levels I am. My personal take on this is that in our addiction to achievement we are indeed missing much of life. We are also missing the subtle or not so subtle need for help in those around us. We are blinded by our addiction. A chronically ill body takes those options away and we are forced to give up our addiction to doing. We have a natural, daily routine of mindfulness. We don’t actually have to go on retreats or be reminded to be mindful. When you live, everyday, in a sick body you survive by being mindful. You simply must track and have equanimity around bodily sensations, negative thoughts, strong emotions and rigid beliefs. Rather than being the current trend…this is a way of life. This is why, quite frankly, people who have had ongoing challenges are often the most masterful, serene, aware and generous people that exist.
Giving. When we are ill, our life becomes a study in what it means to give. We may know what it is to give beyond what we have because we are always exhausted or have muscle weakness. We know what it is to listen to others with empathy when we have neurological symptoms that make concentrating hard. And we solve problems daily that are beyond us and we can’t fix with a rousing game of tag if we are parenting or a jog if we’re upset. I have any many friends and loving family for example, but I can count of one hand those that have said: I really want to come see you and I’m available. And then they do it. I have encountered a great deal of “I want to bring a dinner” or “I want to help but I’m not promising anything” or “call me if it’s an emergency”. The problem here is that for people living with chronic illness, or IN an actual emergency, they are NOT tracking all the details to make it smooth for people to help them. It is both not their job in that moment (their job is healing) AND it is not possible. They may be having a flare of symptoms that requires hands on support, now, not after your vacation two months from now. They are also worn down by years of of having to ask for help in a culture that vilifies weakness and vulnerability. What I know, is that everyone is doing their best. And I have compassion for the people who are so busy, so focused, that their life and decisions don’t allow for spaciously helping others unconditionally. I’m not actually sure what it would be like to live a life where everything I gave had a condition on it, or always felt like too much, or it was annoying, or I was keeping tabs. The reality I inhabit is one in which people, if at all possible, should give as consistent with what they have to give. And they are not blinded to what they have to give. That seems a poor and disabled life indeed…to not know how much our love and active support makes a difference. My body has taught me the spirit of giving and receiving both. Not through distant charities, but through the hands on work of caring for myself and others. And in an ill body their can’t be conditions because it isn’t going away. This is an all in, forever commitment. Isn’t that…real life?
Right Speech. Once you have been verbally fixed way too many times when all you need was a kind ear….you learn right speech. I’ll never forget the searing pain of when I was getting a very painful divorce while I was bedridden, unable to care for my baby and friends would say things like “but there are so many gifts in this”, or “but isn’t it all worth it”. Um, no, it’s not worth it and screw those gifts! Those of us living in vulnerable bodies know that holding clean space is absolute gold. Piling more whipped cream on BS is actually not helpful, in fact it pushes people away and makes it worse. When people do this is it about them, because they feel uncomfortable with simply being. I have compassionate understanding of this habit. Who hasn’t jumped in with unwarranted advice or known what’s “best” for a partner? But it’s crucial to name it for what it is…which is self centered. It requires restraint and a strong heart to not jump in with advice or be a “posiholic”. It is not our job to usher in either the worse case scenarios OR the platitudes to someone in pain. To be deeply human is to know how to simply be with another, with no agenda. “ I hear you”, “I believe you”, “I am right here with you”. These are neutral yet truly loving words.
Balance. What we know from Systemic Constellation and the study of inherited family trauma is that illness and all other difficult fates are derived from the family lineage. Even seeming “accidents”. There is an inherent balance across generations that ensures fairness. What I mean by fairness (because we all know life isn’t really fair) is that the field that governs every family system guards the right to fully belong. If any member if the family isn’t living with full rights, or in the case of illness the help of the other family members, another member will “pay” for this imbalance. This seems brutal but exactly like many laws in nature this supports life. It actually guards the well being of the ENTIRE family and all its components, by making sure that any exclusion is represented by someone. The real reason this is so intense to us is because we have lost touch with the basic natural reality that all of life is held is one. It is held within one field. What we do to this web of life does indeed effect everything else. We are called to remember this by the very blatant facts in front of use: a sick family member, an anorexic child, a missing father, an abused woman, a homeless sibling. We know the nature of the system by how it’s vulnerable members are treated.
The nature of our families is also the nature of our country and planet. It’s time to look clearly.
If you are living with illness then you know that that is a small list of what we get to learn and live due to our body. In spite of the suffering that living with a hurt body can bring I know this: real adversity brings with it compassion, awareness, empathy, specific gifts, and a depth to the soul. When given the choice I always chose the healer who knows that journey well and isn’t afraid to hold your hand on it.