Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Serious Illness - A Blessing in Disguise

“Matter is Energy. Energy is Light. We are all Light Beings."
Albert Einstein

Thank you for that profound statement, Albert Einstein. And thank you, Helen Keller, for: “The best and the most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.”

I had a stimulating discussion with a very wise friend recently. He had just read many of the writings from my blog, and though he appreciated them, he also felt that I wasn’t being specific enough. He opined that at times I glided over serious issues a bit too nonchalantly. I must admit that in re-reading some of the material I’ve noticed a glibness of sorts and, of course, that was never my intention. Perhaps in my enthusiasm to share information that had been life saving for me, in which I’ve been immersed for years, and which ever thrills and inspires me, I stated my case too perfunctorily.

Mainly what I write about is my own experience of the energy that we all share – that we all are – and the acknowledgement and embracing of that energy in its myriad guises. And I can hear my wise friend saying right now: “What do you mean by that? Most people won’t understand what you’re talking about. What energy?" Let me explain.

What brought me to my life focus on ‘energy’ was a challenging battle with cancer I had about thirty years ago, which entailed multiple surgeries and three years of chemotherapy. I spent the first four years of this seven-year journey in bewilderment, asking my doctors what I was doing wrong. “I take very good care of myself, why am I in the hospital every twenty minutes?” They didn’t have an answer to that one but were wonderfully skilled and kind and helped me immeasurably. Finally, around the time I was beginning chemotherapy, a deep insight awakened in me. I had to take responsibility for myself in this situation – something in me needed to shift into another gear. Out of the blue, wondrous guidance showed up. In retrospect, I see that I was led to all manner of healing modalities. We’re talking the 70’s here so a lot of this was really foreign to me – acupuncture, acupressure, shiatsu, rolfing, rebirthing. I was guided to health care professionals, seminars, books, and ultimately to my spiritual teacher, Hilda Charlton, who taught me and thousands of others about ‘energy’.

Our scientific community has been telling us for years that the Universe and everything in it – including every cell and atom of our bodies – is energy. Before Quantum Physics became part of our vernacular, Hilda was a living, breathing expression of the Universal Energy that has been the foundation of sacred teachings for all of recorded history. God, The Light, The Source, The Force, Divine Presence, Higher Power – however we wish to label It – that’s what she was sharing. She had us feeling with our hearts. She had us experiencing The Light. She was the catalyst through which many of us were healed. Though Hilda is no longer in her body, she's very much alive through her recordings and books (http://www.hildacharlton.com/) and through the many she inspired to go forth and share their own work in our world. I'm honored to be part of this list which includes Alan Cohen, Rick Jarow, Ron Young, Rita Heap, Lionel Fernandez, Garnette Arledge, Larry Heisler, Linda Cali, Jed Schwartz, Lois Slade, Allen Levy, David Pomerantz, Richard Shulman, Kathleen Donovan, and many more too numerous to mention. We're all so grateful to her.

Becoming attuned to this energy and how profoundly it is affected by our thoughts and feelings ultimately brought health back to my body and changed my life forever. I really ‘got’ that life is lived from within out, and that it's all about being ever-conscious of this connection – a connection to energy that we can’t see or touch or taste or smell – only feel. It has become my deep conviction, and the core of my work, that every arduous experience we attract to our lives is to serve that purpose – to usher us in to our own hearts and souls where this energy, despite any current physical disability, is alive and well and beckoning us to feel.

I realize that when we’re in the throes of critical illness, our natural reactions are to be angry, sad, depressed, and hopeless. And I don’t ever want to negate the value of those reactions. It's vital that we allow ourselves to experience these emotions. We can’t move to the other side of any situation until we accept what’s there. But I’m also encouraging acknowledgment of not only what’s there, but rising to the invaluable challenge that this scenario has presented to us. We are not simply these bodies. We are body/mind/spirit beings.

Rahm Emanuel very aptly states that “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste”. Whether we like it or not, illness provides a time-out from life as usual which strikes most of us as really bad news. However, the good news is that, if we rise to the challenge, there's a hidden agenda here that can open us up to a part of ourselves that, I promise you, longs to be embraced. This difficult, painful, intrusive dis-ease is grist for our life mill. It’s not an accident. It’s meaningful and purposeful. It has the potential to bring us to unfathomable riches within that will enhance every aspect of our lives.

Ok, so how do we get to the riches? First, it helps a lot to accept, and have the experience of, our bodies being energy systems. This can be accomplished by just getting still for a few moments and noticing the beating of our hearts. Our amazing hearts start beating about twenty-two days after conception and continue unceasingly until our physical bodies die. Their service to us is priceless, and I suggest that right this moment, we all feel great appreciation for our beating hearts. Notice energy pulsing all through your body as the result of this beating heart. Feel such appreciation. Next, acknowledging our breathing – take another few moments and slowly notice the inhale – the exhale – so natural, so automatic. Feel appreciation for this breath of life that breathes us every moment, day and night. Allow yourself to feel - really allow yourself to feel love for your very own body. I'm very big on tenderness these days. Feeding ourselves tenderness. What elicits tenderness for us? Holding a baby, a puppy or kitten – just thinking about the vulnerability of a baby bird? Feel the tenderness that lives within you and then offer yourself this tender love and compassion. Just let tenderness flow through you like a soothing river. This is oh so healing for us. This is one of the riches.

Then there’s the continuous flow of energy pulsing through all the vital organs and systems that are working relentlessly to sustain our lives. Even when they’re compromised, our bodies are magnificent and functioning tirelessly to re-balance and heal themselves. I refer to our bodies as healing machines. And for this I say “Thank you”. Thank you every organ ­– heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, gall bladder, spleen…. every system – digestive, respiratory, reproductive.... Thank you, my body. Thank your body every day. Thank it for being your vehicle throughout this life adventure. Gratitude and appreciation are enormous contributors to our overall well-being. Even when our road has become outrageously bumpy, consciously being grateful for as many things as we can think of each day is immensely salubrious. Feel gratitude.

Having started to feel the precious energy of our bodies, and the gratitude inherent in that experience, the next step is taking responsibility and totally committing ourselves to our own well-being. Commitment is essential for our success in any endeavor, particularly in regaining our good health. As soon as we're truly committed, guidance kicks in and it can open us to the vast array of healing modalities available. I'm not talking about eschewing traditional medicine. I'm suggesting that when critical illness has arrived at our doorstep, it behooves us to pull all the bunnies out of the hat – to try anything and everything that has the potential to make us well again. Modern medicine is astounding, surgical procedures, stunning. But, from my viewpoint, to make our recovery lasting and this whole process as transformative as it is meant to be, this is the moment to take to heart Hippocrates' wise words spoken over 2000 years ago: "Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease." This is the moment to claim the healing energy that resides within us all, always. This is the moment to realize that there's a wellspring of power within our bodies that would have gone unnoticed if this crisis hadn't crashed into our lives. This is the moment to embrace a new philosophy and thought process regarding our bodies and the way we've been living our lives. Commitment and taking responsibility mean rising to the challenge and using all the tools available – traditional and alternative – to set the stage for our own healing. Reading/listening to any inspiring information to which we’re guided is most important, as is enlisting the assistance of someone well versed in the mind/body/spirit connection. These few things are a fine start on the road to our inner riches.

In the midst of my own health crisis I was drawn to, and immensely nourished by, reading Ralph Waldo Emerson. The veracity in his quote “The first wealth is health” is undeniable. He assures us also that: “We lie in the lap of immense intelligence, which makes us organs of its activity and receivers of its truth.” Lying in the lap of immense intelligence and receiving truth there is always available to us. All we need to do is get still enough to feel – to quiet our breathing – to listen and marvel at our beating hearts and the Life Force moving through our bodies – to open to the heart and soul food ever-present in this stillness. Relax – Release – Receive.

I know that my illness drew me into a place of great blessing. It was a gift of inestimable value – a gift that truly does keep on giving. For anyone hosting serious disease, it is my ongoing prayer that this "illness opportunity" be grasped and inhaled and imbibed as the gift that it is. May it usher you in to finally feeling and relaxing into your precious connection with the Immense Intelligence – Universal Energy – Love – Light – God. "We are all Light Beings."

"True happiness is in the love-stream that springs from one’s soul; and he who will allow this stream to run continually in all conditions of life, in all situations, however difficult, will have a happiness which truly belongs to him, whose source is not without, but within."
Hazrat Inayat Khan
Sufi Teacher 1882-1927