If I am ill, is it because I am not being spiritual enough?

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For the past three decades I have been dancing with illness. The title is therefore very relevant to my experience and also to that of others who I know have asked themselves this same question.

One illness I suffered with was caused by a tumour in my left psoas muscle. This had several implications. One was that sometimes the nerves around the tumour would flare up, and I would be in severe physical pain having to take very strong pain-relief (codeine and morphine) and would be bed-ridden for several days. More recently,  I could no longer walk any distance without having to stop every 5 or so minutes to recover from the pain caused by standing upright. There was no chemotherapy or radiation treatment that would work for me, so I was left to accept this as a chronic untreatable condition. Then came the side-effects of the powerful painkillers: my digestive system, which was challenged anyway because I tend to somatise my indigestible emotions, became seriously compromised. I lost my appetite, I lost energy and became very thin and weak. A lot of the time I was experiencing severe pain such that I had to resort to the painkillers and so began a vicious cycle. I would enter an ‘episode ‘ of pain, live through it in a daze of codeine or morphine;  the pain would subside and I would then be left with the side-effects of the painkillers: constipation, lack of appetite, irritability, constantly feeling the cold, no energy.  Doctors suggested steroid injections and shook their heads in sympathy, indicating that I would have to live with these conditions for the rest of my life, and all they could do was help me ‘manage’ the pain.

Another illness was caused by a tick bite which carried the spirochete Borrelia – and it added to my physical discomfort and pain. This illness is – contrary to conventional belief – really untreatable with antibiotics. The spirochetes burrow into any and all tissues and hide – sometimes for years, untouched by the antibiotics. Thus people can have months and years of heavy-duty antibiotics and still carry the disease. I used natural treatments which seemed to help.

Underlying all this was my major dis-ease: a life-long subscription to and unquestioned belief in patriarchal values and, as a consequence, an insatiable commitment to striving because of feeling never good enough.

Meanwhile, friends and family felt either helpless or impatient. A frequently experienced attitude in my spiritual circles was that a) I had chosen this myself, b) it was because I wasn’t learning a lesson  and c) I was being a victim because I was in pain and I could choose not to be.

At first I let this get to me because I too was subscribing to that uncharitable belief. I felt ashamed and a failure because, try as I might, I could not exercise any control over this body nor push it any longer nor ignore it. So I suffered in silence, since there seemed no way out.

The last three years have been the most challenging. I spent most of the two winters of 2012- 2013 and 2013-2014 in bed, weakened to such an extent that I could barely walk. However, light began to appear at the end of the tunnel.

In the winter of 2014, after a couple of months in bed, I realised that I did not want to be ill, and that I could no longer help myself through willpower. I could not fix it. I needed outside help and I had to go within. This was a turning point:  Ask and ye shall receive – no sooner was my intention known, than help began to flood in. I asked my spiritual friends to send me healing and I turned to alternative therapies to help strengthen the body. A number of books appeared which held promise of healing  the mind. I was offered techniques, gadgets and natural remedies. My partner, who had had to become a carer, felt very challenged but made it his business to deal with his emotions and treat me with respect, compassion and kindness, allowing me to start applying these qualities to myself. I began to desist from the striving attitude with which I had brutalised myself all my life and started to instead apply the principles of allowing and accepting my condition and the feeling states in which I found myself. These attitudes create felt experiences. The striving ensures maximum tension in the body, a constant sense of having to make an effort which is the only way I will  ever be rewarded, no matter what area of life it applies to and an ongoing experience of pain somewhere in the body.

By contrast, allowing and accepting an experience creates a sense of gentle warmth and relaxation in the body, a sigh of relief escapes the lips and pain is immediately relieved. Allowing and accepting an experience also reveals the layers of suppressed material which the striving had kept in place. Thus, layer by layer, bit by bit, the truth began to emerge.

With the truth, came healing. This has been a long process, there was no overnight miracle, though many miracles happened along the way. My previous posts show how I have been grappling with these issues for a long time. As an issue becomes resolved, another layer heals. It can be physical, mental, emotional, spiritual healing. At the moment I am enjoying much improved physical health: I can walk a good long distance now without ill-effects. The tumour has shrunk and I have not been using any painkillers for 6 months.

Sharing our unique story can be such a gift. And it is important to remind ourselves that every story is unique and that comparing ourselves or seeking to emulate another is not going to yield the solution to our particular situation. But a story can inspire and re-ignite the mostly dormant belief in us that we can heal ourselves, in our own unique way. The healing can be on different levels and show itself in different ways. It may mean living with a physical condition but being emotionally at peace with it. It may even mean dying, releasing the physical body. Or it may mean regaining physical health – each life is so mysterious and individual and our job is to enter into this mystery knowing that we are held and loved by that Source from which we emanate.

So, if I am ill, is it because I am not being spiritual enough?

Having examined this question, I now find it to be nonsensical. My experience of physical illness has been a teaching device to me. It has led me to recognise how I have supported conditions in which illness can arise and thrive. It has revealed the workings of my mind and the tremendous drain on my energy of emotions suppressed and left to become demons which ambush me in unpredictable ways and at inconvenient times. I have also learned compassion with myself and any other who is in pain.

Compassion is not the same as collusion and we need never fear loving another too much!

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Feeling – our gateway into transformation

How do we manage to block our abundance in a Universe where the Law of Abundance operates without ceasing? How is it that we get stuck in routine and habitual behaviours which belie our Aliveness?

I woke up this morning to thoughts of the past and noticed that every morning and throughout the day, I spend time thinking, feeling, imagining, remembering what is past, gone, no longer alive except for a picture in my memory and — most importantly! – still alive in my feelings! This means that my feelings are to do with ghosts, with things that cannot change except in the present moment as I release and allow them to reside in the past which they now inhabit.

I look into my heart and ask: What do I really wish to feel? I practise I AM statements and finding the feeling that goes with  each one of them.

I am abundant – that feels expansive, sunny and joyful.

I am healthy, I am strong  – feels powerful in the body, I can feel myself wanting to move, I move and dance.

I am beautiful – aaah, that feels good! A deep sigh of appreciation.

I am talented and wise – that brings up the desire to share with others.

I am grateful – a sweetness expands around the heart.

But why practise? Have I not spent a life-time practising this, that and the other? When will practising have an end? And when do I cease practising and put it all into action?

My answer is that I practise and put it into action every day. The words ‘practice’, and ‘discipline’ are beautiful. They convey to me a sense of deep Self-Love for I am dedicated to something, committed to something, passionate about something – all feeling words again! The difference  is that while I was ‘practising’ living in the past and cultivating habitual negative thinking, I am now choosing to feel different.

Recently, someone criticized my ever renewable ability to become enthusiastic. At first I was perplexed and briefly re-visited childhood shame around being “too”exuberant. But I soon realised, as I checked in with myself, that feeling enthusiastic was a good feeling! I recognised that the person was speaking from their upper body centres – without the heart being the bridge. Thus the lower body centres had been consistently disconnected and there was a sense of envy which became rationalised into defence and came out as criticism.

How often do we experience this in our culture? We have been consistently shamed into de-pressing our feelings rather than ex-pressing them. We have mastered this practice so well! Time to practise something else? Yes please!!!

So that is my commitment, my dedication, my passion. I have been given this wondrous ability to feel, I am a sentient (feeling) being and I use it, every day, at every opportunity, to transform the stagnation of static thoughts and thus contribute to changing the consciousness of the Whole. And when I forget, I  have another gift: I start to feel uncomfortable, dissatisfied, depressed. Let us honour our feelings, all of them, because they are our gateway to growth and transformation which is our natural birthright.

I inherit from my ancestors all the abilities and gifts which have taken lifetimes to hone and I participate in the transformation by adding my own particular gifts which will work backward and forward in time.

Join me again for further sharing and let me know your own experiences!

Ancestral and Family healing Pt 1 The Forming of Conscience

In the ’90’s I came across the writings of Bert Hellinger and then heard him speak at a Congress for Psychotherapy in Vienna in 1996.

He was talking about the Orders of Love: how Love is enabled to flow when certain orders are respected in a family system. This was later broadened to apply to any functional system, not just families.

The subject he spoke about which made my head reel was the subject of conscience. Until then, I had had it unquestioningly as a mental concept that

“ everyone has a conscience, everyone knows right from wrong.”

This is of course true in principle. But what is conscience and where does it come from?

And what I learned was that conscience comes from whatever system you belong to. If you belong to a Christian system, your conscience will develop accordingly: as a set of beliefs around how you are to behave if you want to remain belonging and loyal to that group. If you belong to a family of thieves, your conscience will be dictated by your success in following the norms of that family and you will be loyal to that. Of course there exists an unconditioned awareness of what is Love – but we are mostly all programmed through our parents, teachers and peers to develop the kind of conscience I describe above which is based in Fear. It is the conscience born of the need to survive. For there is nothing worse for a human being than to be excluded from his clan which assures his survival. There is nothing worse for a human being than to be ostracised for her views when she is not yet able to make her own way. Few people have the courage to withstand the pressure to join in that loyalty. For that to happen requires a conscious connection to the Divine, a remembering of who we really are.

And so we conform. In this desire for conformity, we give up our powers of thinking autonomously, for they link us with our fear of dying. We become loyal to a system. The system dictates our conscience.

In this kind of climate, truth cannot be voiced. Feelings are hidden and stored away and we become entangled in unconscious bonds with the people in our family systems, even with the dead. We apply our false interpretations of traumatic events which have been passed down the family line because they remained unresolved and we take things personally. A system always seeks balance, just like life, and so will find the link in the system where this balance can be restored. This will be a person with issues around the family, someone who like me has picked up on some obscure or less obscure theme and is pulled towards resolving it.

My quest for the Truth goes back to ancient times. I came into this life with it and from an early age I remember desiring the truth, wanting it from my parents, from all around me and being eternally frustrated that it was not acceptable to speak it or live it. I also conformed but the cost of this was intense resentment and disappointment and sooner or later this imbalance had its effects and played out in my life, through illness and through dysfunctional relationships.

The turning point for me came when a beloved member of my family, my daughter, turned away from me resolutely and refused to have anything more to do with me. The emotional pain was such for me that  I had to do something about it. This is a typical example of how life events conspire to bring us to our knees and really get us to recognise our part in the suffering we are experiencing.

I will share the resolution to this conflict in a new post. Stay tuned into the frequencies of Love and Forgiveness!