It is easier to accept the disease, old age, and death when you are not confronted with them. As they say, you can’t start preparing for a war when it has broken out, the armies have to be trained and prepared well before any such eventuality. Perhaps the same applies to fighting illnesses and dealing with old age and the proximity of death.
Saint Kabir used to say – everyone tries to mediate (do the right thing) when they are unwell, but if one meditated and did the right things when they are well and happy, there will be no illness and unhappiness.
I recently met a friend who was into trying all sorts of healing remedies, he is like a walking encyclopedia on all sorts of healing methods. I asked him, “why are you not okay with the unhappiness and discomfort?” because in my opinion, that is the way to heal oneself. He was constantly making a judgment on what is “normal” and what is not and was declaring his health, both physical and psychological, as not normal in some ways. Perhaps his definition of what was normally needed to be worked on.
I requested him not to make this distinction as both normal and not-normal states require an almost equal amount of effort, though of a different kind for illnesses, for betterment, and that effort should be on all the time, along with having the thoughts of okayness.
Alan Watts has talked about looking at our life as the shape of a cloud – there are no mis-shapened clouds, there are no mistakes. The body is only a healing organism and it is constantly trying to heal itself from all sort of negative influences, both internal and external. Sickness and diarrhea after food poisoning is not an illness, having panic attacks when you don’t like where your life is taking you is also not an illness, etc. Our body’s reaction is never wrong and sometimes those efforts have been labeled as illnesses. At times what we see as an illness is nothing but our body’s attempts to get rid of the negative energies from our system or some dormant illness coming onto the physical plane. With mental illness, it may be that your mind is trying to purge itself of something negative. If your body is trying to bring out dormant illnesses on the surface it should be seen as good news, as you in the process of getting rid of it.
Things today may be better than what they will be in the future:
I also explained to this friend my therapy approach with clients. When someone comes to me with complaints or symptoms such as relationship problems, weight loss/gain, hair loss, sleep problems, anxiety, asthma, diabetes, etc. After discussing and initiating all the treatment that is required I ask them to close their eyes and for a few minutes think of how things will be in 30 or 40 years’ time. They won’t be able to run, digest food, travel abroad independently, their hearing and vision will be impaired, etc, and then ask them to return to the body that they have got now. They start celebrating who they are today.
This friend asked me if this was not a negative way of looking at life – my answer was – yes if their mind is reacting in a strongly negative way to this news of inevitability aging and physical problems and they end up suffering more, but if they inculcated a sense of calm acceptance of all that and knew that today they are many fitters and health it is a positive way of looking at things. It shouldn’t stop them from putting in efforts constantly to make things better for the future.
One needs to zoom out of one’s preoccupations with the problems that they are suffering from and think of all the problems that they are not suffering from can help them be more accepting.
Your mind is the sea and not a small fish
I often ask my clients to visualize their symptoms in terms of a shark in a sea. The shark can be deadly and can kill small creatures of the sea. But you don’t see your mind as a small fish that the shark can gobble up. You are the sea and the sea is not scared of the shark. The shark is finite and the sea is relatively infinite, they will die one day but the sea will live on. Similarly, your illness is finite but the capacity of your mind is infinite. The illness will come to an end but you will live on. You will find happiness in the end when all the drama of the illness has been played out.
Things are temporary
This mantra can help you be more accepting of things as they are not permanent and you won’t have to put up with them for the rest of your lives. This issue has been discussed extensively elsewhere on the website.
Knowing What is Normal
We tend to have romanticized notions of this world and fail to understand what is normal life. We tend to imagine a normal life as having no illness, a job, a house, a supportive partner, obedient children, a stress-free job, etc. but how many of us have that sort of life. We have examined our own lives under a microscope and know all the blemishes and scar marks but we haven’t examined others’ lives under a microscope, and most people don’t talk about their problems with you unless you are a very close friend.
Mother nature or a superior intelligence at work
When you have done your best and things are still not going your way one has to let go and see the hand of mother nature in the outcomes that may not be necessarily harmful to you. Mother nature has to be seen as benevolent and not malevolent. There are immutable laws that govern this universe and things happen according to those laws. Those laws are for the development and progress of mankind. Having faith in them will be helpful.
Be thankful that it is no worse
© Kishore Chandiramani, Consultant Psychiatrist
Emotions Clinic, Education and Training Centre Cic, Staffordshire, England