One subject that often goes hand in hand with discussions about spirituality is that of health and healing. As we work on our issues and attempt to overcome challenges, the limiting beliefs and programs we have carried around with us for many years begin to kick out as they leave our minds and bodies. This can lead to a great deal of pain and suffering and can make us want to seek some kind of healing.
In theory at least, when we align with our eternal Self we will naturally create health, or if illness is present then we will not identify with it because we will realise that it is only the body which has become sick. The true Self or eternal Self cannot become sick and therefore requires no healing. Equally if we do not identify with the body then it is not a problem if the body becomes sick.
If we could start our lives knowing that we are the eternal Self maybe we would not experience ill-health and maybe the question of healing would never arise. But living our lives identified with the temporal self, sickness is a frequent experience and consequently the question of how to heal is never far away. As a sick person we are conditioned to seek medicine or treatment in order to effect a cure. But from the standpoint of the eternal Self it is only the body which is experiencing ill-health – because the physical world is subject to constant change, such sickness is viewed as merely another change in form or change in appearances. As the essence of who we are – the eternal Self – is unaffected by such sickness, there is no need to pay it any attention.
Ultimately the aim of any kind of healing should be to experience Oneness and to become aligned with who we are. From a state of Oneness healing can occur naturally and spontaneously. This is different from trying to heal a symptom of misalignment. As ever, we will experience greater joy if the focus is kept centred within rather than being drawn to the outer expression of an inner imbalance.
Some spiritual teachings tell us that illness can be due to Karma, as a result of our past actions. Other teachings say that we choose illness or disability before we are physically born in order to experience life in a different way. Modern medicine says that illness is mainly the result of physical causes such as diet, exercise and genetic dispositions. Some people say that physical illness is a result of unprocessed emotional issues or negative thinking. Other people say that illness is purely a manifestation of a blockage of subtle energy within the body.
Whichever way we choose to look at illness, one thing is for certain: if we experience illness it is up to us to decide how to respond. Yes, we can respond by going into blame, self-pity or complaining, but will any of that help us to address the cause of our symptoms? It may seem that getting angry about our illness brings some relief – and if we have suppressed anger it can be therapeutic to allow it to come out – but in the long run we find that acceptance of the situation is the first step to healing.
Once we have fully accepted an illness we can start to be receptive to discovering what, if anything, we can do to experience health once again, and what we may be able to learn from our illness.
Some people, when they have had a period of illness, say that the reason they had the illness was because they needed to learn something or make a change in their life. Many people, for example, find that they have to take life more slowly and be less physically active after experiencing a major illness. This can often be accompanied by the perceived need to be more mindful, more present and to appreciate life more.
Whether we choose to see that illness comes to teach us these lessons, or whether we choose to see such learning as the by-product of illness doesn’t really matter. The important thing, when illness does manifest, is to be able to look at it in a positive light and see how we can learn and grow from it.
Putting ourselves back together again
Our natural tendency, whenever we feel unwell, is to want to feel well again. There is nothing necessarily wrong with this, but we need to be mindful of not trying to fix ourselves all the time. If we get too hooked on the idea of fixing we can forget that it is only the mind or the body which has manifested illness, and that our true Self can never get sick. This can draw our attention outside of ourselves and we can become uncentred. From an uncentred position we are unlikely to find peace of mind or physical well-being. But sometimes the pain can be so great that non-identification with the pain seems almost impossible. In such circumstances we could see that the body may require treatment without identifying with it. In this way we can set about fixing the body in the same way that a mechanic would fix a car.
Whether or not we believe that illness comes to teach us something, it is important to be receptive to hearing what the illness might have to say to us. Behaving as if it were trying to teach us something can bring us great insights and help us to grow. Similarly it is important to allow any emotions to come to the surface and ask them what they may have to teach us.
To some people it can seem rather ego-centric to think that everything that happens in life is there to teach them something, but it’s amazing what we can learn if we respond to life events as if they did have something to teach us. We can often find many positives from illness by looking at what happened as a result of the illness. For example some people experience illness in later life and find that they have to depend on other people to help them meet their needs. For people who considered themselves very independent or self-reliant this can be a great challenge and can signify a period of growth in which they learn to see other people and themselves in a new light.
When we experience illness or disability it is all too easy to focus our attention on what we can no longer do, on what the illness or disability is preventing us from being able to do. The opportunity we are presented with is to be able to see what blessings the illness or disability brings. Perhaps your ability to remember things worsened, but did you find that you became more intuitive at the same time? Or did you not notice the improved intuition because you were so focused on the loss of memory? Perhaps you were no longer able to run around and expend lots of physical energy, but did you learn the value of being still and remaining in one place? Or did that pass you by as you remained fixated on what you had lost
If you have experienced ill health and your enquiries have led you to other peoples’ theories on the cause of illness, you might find that some of these theories seem more plausible than others. You may even think that some of these theories could be true but that they seem to require a belief in something you’re not sure about. My advice would be to treat these theories as metaphors and ask yourself how they might help you if they were true. We don’t need to fully believe a theory in order to consider its possible merits.
What if you had chosen an illness before this life began? What if you had chosen to experience a particular limitation? What if you had made an agreement with your partner before this life to have certain experiences in order to grow? What if your current situation was happening to help you to learn something important? How would it change your perspective on your current situation if any of these theories were true? You don’t need to believe in past lives, spiritual contracts, dowsing, chakras or anything else which you might feel unsure about in order to consider “what if it were true?”
The “what if it were true?” thought experiment can be a valuable tool on our journey into health and wholeness.
Laughter is the best medicine
One final thought about healing. It is often said that laughter is the best medicine and it is certainly true that being positive and having a good laugh can help us to improve our health. We can also say that playfulness is the path to joyfulness. Many adults tend to be very reserved in their behaviour and believe that playing is childish and therefore not befitting of an adult. But play is vital to our sense of well-being. Play gives rise to joy and joy makes us want to be alive – it is the desire to be alive that will be our greatest ally in creating good health.
*** This chapter is taken from my book The Light Within ***