In these times of turbulence, change, and chaos, it is easy to want to oversimplify, to search for easy answers to life’s challenges. As a mind, body, spiritual counselor, I have the privilege of being called upon when my clients are going through their most difficult life experiences. I have found, all too often, that the first place people go when they are overwhelmed by life is self blame. This is especially true with physical illness.
Much of the mind and body information that is being written and talked about has led people to the conclusion that they are completely in charge of how their life experiences are manifesting. The idea that we create our reality is very prevalent, and I believe an over simplification. My own journey has taught me a deeper truth: life is richly complex. We each are co-creating our reality along with 7.5 billion other souls. We are influenced by many forces: our gender, culture, history and educational background to name just a few. We are energy systems penetrating and interacting with other energy systems. All of us in the process of growing, expanding and deepening as we evolve into something more encompassing.
When individuals subscribe to the belief that, by themselves, they have manifested a difficult situation such as illness, it would follow that they would come to the conclusion that they have done something wrong. This line of thought fuels the belief that if you do everything right, nothing frightening, overwhelming or deeply challenging will happen to you. The smaller, outer mind leaps to the idea that it can and should do something immediately to alter the situation.
Questions arise from a place of self-blame and judgment. What have I have done wrong? What issues have I have failed to resolve that has caused their current condition? When my clients are faced with the challenge of illness I gently and compassionately guide them into deeper self-reflection. I ask them to contemplate and journal on these questions:
How do I feel about being vulnerable?
How do I feel about being in need?
What am I ready to let go of in my life?
Where am I ready to open in my life?
What beliefs have I held, that I need to be release?
Where is my life too small?
Who am I meant to become?
What are the inner qualities and outer skills I need to embody, in order move through this initiation.
When we are challenged with an illness, we are in the midst of a spiritual initiation. We have been invited into a deeper understanding of ourselves, and of our lives. In initiation, we are always in the midst of the unknown. We have no knowledge of what is coming next. This throws us into our most vulnerable self. It is easy to believe in compassion and a deeper wisdom when all is flowing effortlessly in life. But what do any of us do when the unknown knocks at our door? This is the opportunity to use the spiritual skills that we have been developing. Now is when we can choose to stay focused on our inner qualities, such as compassion, inner connection, speaking the truth to others, asking for what we need, and maybe most important of all, telling ourselves the deeper truth of our own story.
In this journey that is our life, we may forget a deep and profound truth. It is through our strength that we give our gift of radiance to the world, but it is through our vulnerability that we transform. It is our strength and our radiance that we seek, but it is in the unknown, in the midst of vulnerable choices, that we find transformation. Illness places us directly in the center of our vulnerability. If we choose to dance with the initiation we will find we have the motivation to dive deeper into our exploration of self.
Illness can be the impulse to let go of all that no longer serves growth, love and wholeness within self. We transform when we let go of the old story we cling to, and embrace a larger truth that is being presented to us. Life will challenge us to rise to the occasion. Spirit will ask us to open to love when we are afraid, to accept when we want to reject, and to seek a larger vision when the one presented is too small to hold the vastness of our love and wisdom.
My own experience with a rare and chronic condition has changed me in many remarkable ways. I have learned to listen to my body with a compassionate and respectful ear. My body is intelligent and I am in relationship with her. I have learned to speak my personal truth, while respecting the personal truth of others. Illness has put a limit on the amount of physical energy I have, this is the perfect invitation to let go of the parts of my life that do not feed my deeper self.
Beauty and meaning are medicine for me they create a container that heals me. I used to seek them out when I had time. Now I know they are mandatory for my well-being at every level. The challenge of illness have given me the opportunity to create a handcrafted life, each part chosen with loving care and consideration, with the intent of bringing harmony to my everyday experience. My contemplations, intuitions as well as choices and actions, all have a level of clarity and power that is the gift of embracing a physical limitation.
“The Guest House” by Rumi speaks to embracing all that life brings, may it serve to enlighten you as it has me.
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
About the Author
Victoria Wilson-Jones is an experienced mind/body/spirit educator and consultant. She has spent the last 29 years assisting individuals in connecting to their deepest authenticity and their higher purpose. Utilizing the transformation energy of the heart center as well as a deep connection to integral awareness Victoria assists individuals in opening to, and living from a more empowered space within themselves. Private session, classes and Soul Quest trips, are all designed to guide individuals in developing their innate abilities and gifts. Read more Victoria.