Why Do We Get Sick?
We have all been there. Everything appears to be going well and then we wake up with a headache or sore throat, flu or back-ache. We discover we have a pain in the neck, aching shoulders, tightness in the chest, upset stomach, or very sore feet. Sometimes we are born with problems and sometimes we develop physical, emotional or mental symptoms that make us aware that something is not working.
What is Awareness? It is a particular understanding that orientates, amplifies and rewards experience. There are 4 main levels of awareness, sensations feelings, philosophical positions and purposes.
I have asked myself why don’t we live in a state of health and vitality from the moment we are born and die a peaceful, conscious death when the time is right? This article begins in a very simplistic way to answer that question.
Since I was a very young child I’ve had allergies. Stone fruit gave me hives, pineapple made me breathless, milk curdled in my tummy and by the time I was four I often had bronchitis. By the age of six I was told to do 500 skips with a skipping rope for pulling Lillian Sandlands hair and that turned in to my first asthma attack.
I’ve done a great deal of work around this asthma situation. And there have been times in my life when I believed I had fully grown out of it. But occasionally it rears its head again and I am strongly encouraged to look deeper and deeper within myself to understand the significance of what is going on, again. There are times when the understanding dawns on me quite quickly and I confess I can be a lazy spiritual searcher so when I get a sudden ah-ha moment I’m delighted and relieved, even if the realization is a cringe-worthy. But there are times I don’t understand immediately and I get impatient and try to make up reasons just to get an answer. Never a good thing to do.
Having just returned from three incredible weeks on Safari in Africa I had so many encounters with animals and sat silently watching and listening and talking to them from within myself. During a few meditations however, I had a visitation from a huge male Lion. He came up to me and spoke. He told me four things. This first is to be as patient as a Lion.
I watched many lions in those three weeks and the one thing that stands out is how long and still they can sit. They waste not an once of energy. The Lion reminded me that the key to being patient is to listen and be silent. Both words are an anagram of the other.
When we get sick we cannot rush good health, we cannot force vitality, we cannot hurry awareness. We need to be patient, and in the silence of our inner being we are being encouraged to listen to the answer to this question, “What is the significance of this experience for me right now.”
How many of us get sick and simply press-on? Forcing ourselves to do what we normally do regardless of what our body is feeling. I know people who complain their cold has lasted two weeks, their pain continues to worsen, their blood levels are not improving. Our body has one way to grab our attention when its is struggling and that is through discomfort. The greatest show of self respect is to be silent and listen everyday for a period of time. That means turning off the phone, closing a door, getting ready to spend some precious time with yourself and giving yourself permission to become aware of what is going on within.
Some people are actually addicted to pain. Sounds crazy doesn’t it but here’s how that happens. I know. I’ve unconsciously been caught up in this addiction myself.
We get busy. Our schedules are often full. We have meetings to attend, people to see, family to feed and things we want to spend time doing. We have friends who call, and some of us fit in the gym, a run, and drinks after work. One hundred phone calls later and a ton of other people’s expectation on top, leaves us robotic, mechanical and distracted. This kind of busyness carried us through a whole day, a week, a year and regrettably even a life time of not being present. Not living consciously in the moment. So the one and only thing that can pierce through this chaos of living like that is pain. Pain instantly brings us into the present and all the other stuff temporarily does not seem so urgent. The pain has brought us back into our bodies. Our bodies don’t like being ignored. Why should they? They are carrying us through life the best way they can and yet we are often too distracted by the small stuff to listen. But what a way to get present!
There are also four gifts sickness and pain can offer us. The throb in your shoulders could be giving you a hint that something in your life is ready to be released. But it could also be telling you there is something in your life that needs to be redeemed. In other words, our body will never casually give us pain, it is committed to giving us the best life possible and perhaps we have overlooked something we once learned and the pain is inviting us to re-look, re-think, re-assess something that is now timely for to nourish your well being. I have some dead friends with cancer and we often talk about the difference between being healed and being cured. Healing is a journey of listening within and putting the awareness gained into action. Sometimes it means letting go of thoughts and opinions that no longer serve us. Sometimes it means surrendering to the moment and being open to going with the flow of our body’s great wisdom. But to know we have to learn to stop, be silent and listen.
And that’s the tricky thing. How do we do that when so much and so many are vying for our attention? How do we do that when sitting in silence can often feel like a total waste of time especially when our heads wont stop talking? How do we do that when our own expectations of ourselves and those of others keep us awake at night worrying. How do we do that when we drift into fear of the future or regrets from the past?
We have to practice and sometimes even fake it till we make it. We have to sit and practice being silent. And if sitting inside is too hard then we need to find somewhere outside. We need to stop, look and listen. Look at a leaf. Pick up a feather. Look up at the sky or across the sea. Hold a hand full of sand, or seeds or dirt and be with yourself for those moments. Find a way to leave the physical world and go within and ask the one question that will eventually be answered. What is the significance of this situation?
At 2.30 am last Saturday morning I was rushed by ambulance to North Shore Hospital with a severe asthma attack. It was the worst one I’ve ever had so clearly I have not been listening attentively to myself lately. I just couldn’t breathe. I know that the lungs are connected to grief just as every organ and body part is connected to an emotion so I know there is something here about grief. I asked the question and in a state of trying to breathe I was told, “catch your breath first, let’s talk a bit later.” Always a good idea to attend to the physical issue first and then take some time to go within when the crisis has died down.
So today’s the first day I can talk without puffing and I asked again. And I heard. “Reestablish some discipline in your life and start writing and teaching again.”
Since selling our family home, waiting over three years for our new one to be finished and having a house full of workers for the 9 months I’ve lived here, I have neglected that which I most love. Writing and teaching.
So what are the other three things the Lion told me? Stay tuned. In the next three blogs I will be sharing the Wisdom of the Lion with you. Oh and by the way, my fathers name was, Lionel. I can’t help thinking it might have been my dad, who passed over 4 1/2 years ago, who spoke to me in Africa as a Lion. His Hebrew name was Arieh, which also means Lion. He was in every way as wise and as patient as a Lion and those Lions eyes, looked so familiar.