It all started with a “tickle” in the back of the throat. Then came the runny nose. Pretty soon, it was a full-fledged cold.
I’m not going to get into specifics about my cold (yuck!), but I want to invite you into a little exploration of the lesson of sickness.
Don’t worry; this won’t hurt a bit.
A week doesn’t pass where I don’t answer at least a few questions from someone – a client, friend or even a relative – about how to increase their intuition. I give my usual answers (meditation, learn a system, etc.), until the one that usually makes them stop in their tracks: listen to their own body. Believe it or not, the human body is an incredible intuition alert system, and, when it comes to sickness, the body can be a living opportunity to teach us volumes about ourselves and our relationships.
My own sickness had plenty to teach me, especially about spiritual identity and the role of spiritual practices in my life.
How did I get to that realization? Let’s back up a bit.
Sickness is a sign of something out of sync or dis-ease in the human system. Notice I said “system,” not “body.” As human beings we are a composition of body and soul together, so dis-ease is not just a body problem; it can be a soul/mind problem as well.
Now that doesn’t mean that every physical problem can be directly traced to mind/soul problem. There are books that create numerous connections between body problems and life issues. These systems are interesting, and certainly have validity in some cases, but I don’t see a 100% correlation between the two. Sometimes bodily sickness simply happens.
Regardless of whether the sickness is a sign of deeper mind/soul problems, our response to that sickness is the same: we stop. The body wants to stop. We respond to that desire by attending to the needs of the body, making sure that we get appropriate medical care, adequate rest, and proper nutrition for efficient healing.
While attending to the body, it is also important to attend to the mind/soul as well. Many times there is a lesson or two that we are being taught in our sickness, which couldn’t be learned at any other time. This is the beginning of “hermit time.”
How we use our “hermit time” in sickness is very important. There are really three ways that we can use this time. First, we could use it as “poor-me” time, bemoaning our illness, lost time at work, our own personal suffering, and finding ways to ensure that everyone around us feels our pain in as many ways as possible. As we pursue this tactic, we generally feel our illness for a considerably longer time.
Second, we could use our hermit time as “extended work time.” We could get caught up on all that extra work, start a few more projects, and fee like we’ve accomplished a great deal. Of course, we also end up feeling worse for a longer period of time.
Finally, we could use our hermit time as time to listen. After all, our bodies are finally in a holding pattern, in a sort of desert where the heart can finally speak to us without being interrupted by the next urgent task on our list.
“I want to listen,” you say, “but how?” You certainly don’t want to fall into self-delusion where your mind wanders into strange territory, and you also don’t want to miss important insights.
There are four steps to listening to the heart during your hermit time:
- Get quiet
- Ask what the lesson/problem is
- Listen for the answer
- Treat the answer as the beginning of a conversation with the heart
1. Get quiet. To get quiet, I mean really quiet. No electronic devices. No phones. No Facebook. No television, Netflix, or movies. No radios or mp3’s. No books (you thought you could get away with that one, eh?). In other words, no input from outside. Picture yourself as being stranded in a literal desert, with no connections to the outside world. You cannot hear your heart when you’re distracted by everything else around you.
2. Ask what the lesson/problem is. Ask your heart what the actual problem or lesson is that you’re supposed to learn. Keep this very simple. Your heart is the core of who you are, your True Self, that contains an immense amount of wisdom. It is also your intimate companion through life. Ask this wise friend your deepest question, expecting the perfect response.
3. Listen for the answer. When you listen for the answer, pay attention to everything: your thoughts, feelings, even your memories, as they emerge in your consciousness. As you listen, disregard the first two or three answers that come up; they are often answer from the ego, trying to derail you from the work of genuine growth. If one of those answers happens to be the important one, fear not; it will come up again in a few moments!
At this point, it is helpful to have a notebook handy for insights as you receive them. If you rely solely on your memory, you will probably forget about 30-60% of what follows. So take good notes!
4. Treat the answer as the beginning of a conversation with the heart. This is where people usually don’t go. Go off the beaten track, and explore the answer further. Start talking to your heart, and also to Source/Higher Power/God about the answer you’ve intuitively received. (Yes, this is your intuition at work!) Have a very simple, loving and honest conversation about what it means for you, and how you can apply the lessons in your life. As in the previous step, pay attention to thoughts, feelings and even memories as they emerge; they are often veiled responses in your conversation. Yes, this does take some time, but I promise you: the conversation is worth it!
The result of this process is a conversation and insights that either set you on a new path in some part of your life, or fine-tunes the path you are walking right now. Sometimes, you may even find that your sickness will last a shorter time, since the lesson has been learned.
Every sickness is an opportunity for growth. The next time you get a cold, or your body is telling you to get some rest, try the approach I’ve outlined to get the most out of it.
Don Marlette is, among many other things, a member of the No Limits Life team. His unique blend of psychic insight, mediumship and practical wisdom guide spiritual practitioners and everyday people through the perils of everyday getting by to build lives that feel like they are singing their heartsong. Learn more at www.nolimitslifeinstitute.com