Illness and I

June 16, 2017

So being healthy is in vogue. From yoga to mindfulness, from ionized water to kale...  Everything is about feeling and looking healthy. And although that's wonderful in a way, we sometimes tend to forget that no matter how much kale we eat, we will still get ill and die. 


It seems to be a pretty basic assumption but bare with me for a minute.  Everyday in my Facebook news feed I come across a new ultimate magic way to human health and happiness.  Some even claim to be not new, but actually some ancient secret of some ancient culture. Whether it's turmeric before breakfast, or a clove of garlic or a gram of ginger, or adding chia seeds to your meals. There's thousands of secrets to 'eternal youth' and keys to 'healthy long living'. However, the idea of never falling in sick, never aging, never dying, is not new. This longing has been part of us through history. It's been our Holy Grail, our Philosopher's stone, our Fountain of Youth. We've just replaced divine magical objects with everyday foods, but the quest remains the same, and it's the very desire to fulfill it what we should be actually trying to mend. 



Before you come back with some examples let me say that yes, certain Yogis and Shaolin masters and raw food eaters display amazing vitality at advance age, as do certain centennial ladies in the Caribbean coast who know nothing about yoga but do a lot of dancing, cigar smoking and rum drinking.  That is not the point at issue. 


The main point is that there's health and there's also illness. That life is life because it comprises death. That we still live in this dimension in which all beings are born, grow and then decay and die. 

As autumn takes away the leaves of a tree... we are all bound to wither. We are all in our way to disappear and there's nothing wrong with that. This is the way of the Earth and we are a part of it. The sooner we are able to accept this, the less frustration we will experience.

This acceptance could also bring the wisdom that resides in illness.  A wisdom that we are unable to perceive because we focus all our efforts on well being.  Off course that it's only natural to desire to feel good.  But more often than not our bodies will remind us that a permanent state of well being is also unnatural.

Now, apart from all the miracle remedies I was mentioning before, we have now incorporated the belief that illness is in our mind. That before materializing in the body, illness starts in the form of "negative" thoughts or experiences. The way I see it, the mislead incorporation of this concept has created a new entire level of frustration as we now feel incapable of directing our thoughts in a positive enough way to control our bodies.  Just as with the kale, we keep realizing that no matter how many "positive statements" we post on our wall, we keep experiencing illness. And once again comes the obsession and the frustration. 'Am I doing something wrong?' 'Am I not focusing enough on the positive aspects of my life?' etcetera.

But what if we were just looking at it the wrong way? 


We can't avoid  having any "negative" thoughts and feelings... this is completely unhealthy as negative thoughts and feelings (whatever that actually means) are a part of life.  What I have came to believe is that there's stuff in our mind that -for whatever reasons- we are not able to handle at a particular moment in time and therefore, the body processes such thoughts and emotions for us.  When there is an affliction at an emotional or psychological level, the body, the Earth, the wisdom of the physical world, gives us illness as a sort of pressure relief valve. In this way, the affliction is manifested and then processed in the physical world so that we are able to deal with it at a more tangible level. 


Let me give you an example. Say we have been through a painful break up and not long after that we start presenting these migraines. Following the principle of healing the body with the mind we would embark on a super human effort to stop feeling sad so that we can heal our migraines. This for me presents a problem because then you have a new unnecessary  thing to worry about. One is the actual pain of the break up, and two, the idea that you have to stop feeling sad. But here lies the problem. Sadness, as illness, as autumn, is a natural part of life. Trying to suppress these feelings might lead us to sweep them under the carpet hence allowing them to become a much bigger problem in the future.  You see, the physical body is the fastest to react (then come the feelings and finally the mind). The body is not the last but the first one to know and therefore, sets the mechanisms of illness in motion as a response to the situation to help you start the healing process. 


I guess what I'm trying to say is that the idea of mind affecting the body is not a linear process of cause and effect, but a circular process in which, if allowed to be, illness could hold the key to a quicker and more effective emotional healing. Maybe, if we could give her some space, she would process all the burdening stuff for us not through the ways of the mind that are complex and slow, but through the ways of the body that are more immediate and concrete.  (I'm taking the literary liberty of defining illness as her just because in Spanish it's a feminine noun so it makes perfect sense in my head...) 


Anyway, when I've been willing to let this play up, I've found more often than not that with time the illness disappears with no apparent reason, ultimately because whatever it was trying to heal has been dealt with and therefore the inner source of pain is really not there anymore. 


Summarizing... Illness is a part of life that is not only natural and therefore must be accepted, but also it's wise and serves a purpose for the higher self. It's a key to dealing with the things we are not mentally or emotionally strong to deal with and might then hold the key to deeper realization and well being. 


Might I add, this is a thought that comes entirely from my experience with illness. It hasn't been proven by science nor it's an ancient secret from any ancient culture so... just saying.

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Created with by Laura Leongómez

Photography: Luis Gabriel Morales

Logo by Kate Cragoe Mayfield

Original Art work: Juan Sebastián París

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