It was many years ago at a conference in Hawaii that I heard a speaker talk about our illness bringing a gift. Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona also spoke about talking to our illness — and for anyone interested, I recommend his Coyote trilogy.
Over the years this seed concept has germinated and blossomed in my mind. I often see people who live with chronic illness and I wonder why that particular illness visited them and why, like a bad guest it is refusing to leave.
Ayurveda and other Eastern traditions teach us that our body has 7 energy centers or mini brains (chakras) and an illness related to a particular chakra has a physical and psychological signature. For instance illnesses related to the first chakra may have, as their origin, issues related to abandonment. Managing both the physical manifestation of the illness as well as the psychological, allows for healing to occur. Seems simple enough. Why then are some people unable to heal?
The answer lies deep in our subconscious mind. We all have a physical body, which in the event of an illness malfunctions. We have a mind or ego whose function is to ensure our survival. And we have an energy state or true self (also referred to as spirit).
For some people it appears that a healing process is not congruent with the minds perception of survival and it thwarts all efforts to achieve it.
Getting past this major blockade requires honesty and courage. If you are someone that is struggling with a chronic illness ask yourself the following questions.
- When did I get ill?
- What was going on in my life when I got ill?
- What does the illness prevent me from doing? Was that hard to do when I was well?
- Does it bring me help from my friends and family? Did I have trouble asking for help when I was well?
- Does it shelter me from social situations that I find anxiety provoking?
- Does it give me an excuse not to do things that I dislike doing?
- Is the attention I get from my physicians or family pleasurable?
- Am I punishing myself or another by remaining ill to obtain relief from real or perceived guilt or shame?
- Has the illness allowed me to become part of a group that makes me feel different and special?
- What will be the cost of becoming well? Will I lose the attention, love, sympathy and help of my family and friends? Will I no longer have an excuse not to do things that I find anxiety provoking, tedious or easily overwhelmed by? What will make me special?
This then is the “gift” the illness brought you. I allowed you to separate from a psychologically painful situation. You are not faking it. It is unconscious. It does not mean that the illness is pleasurable, just that it has some benefits you were not aware of.
As you go through this exercise a glimmer of awareness may arise. Compassionately attend to these deep wounds. It will take time. You may want to seek the help of a therapist. The good news is that once the light of consciousness shows you your subconscious patterns they cannot be unseen.
You are not your illness, your body or your mind. Allowing your essence or spirit to be in charge of your life rather than you mind or ego, will fill you with unlimited enthusiasm and joy. This is your ultimate gift!
Can you tolerate that??