What can illness teach us? Can we gain insight & wisdom when we are ‘laid low’? Can an illness serve a higher purpose? I had to consider all of these questions when a bout of the flu knocked me right off my feet.
As someone who normally enjoys robust good health it was a shock to the system to find myself bedridden with the flu and at first I tried to ignore the symptoms & carry on regardless. Needless to say this was a foolish decision & the moment I stopped & went to bed my temperature soared. Struggling to go and get a drink, or get the energy together to visit the bathroom was not easy to accept. Yet a week confined to the house & mainly to bed did teach me some lessons & I’m grateful for these insights, which I believe many of you would also benefit from:
Rest is the best cure. As so often happens with illness I’d been charging around trying to fit 36 hours of activity into 24 hours & paying no attention to my own wellbeing. Illness can be your Higher Self's way of saying "Stop that right now, you’ve run down your batteries too low & if you carry on you’ll really do yourself some damage." Of course if I’d tuned into my body a little more carefully I would have noticed my energy was dropping & rested without the helping hand of a flu virus!
The world continues to turn with or without you. Sometimes in our very human egocentricity we imagine that if we personally don’t do ‘x, y & z’ & do them right now there will be a complete catastrophe. Guess what? Plans were cancelled, my schedule erased & time was made for me to be ill & get better. The world did not grind to a halt & nothing horrendous or irreversible happened because I took time out.
Redefining our priorities When we rush around ‘doing’ we can lose sight of what is really important & what just feels urgent. Bedridden you suddenly get a new perspective. I feel I was given time out to look at my spiritual path and listen to the small still voice within, that gets too easy shouted down by all the 'busy-ness' in life. The question became ‘What does my soul need & want from this life?’ and the answer wasn't a list of chores!
Your body knows best. I had been throwing a deaf ear to the messages my body had tried to send prior to getting ill, but once it had my full & undivided attention I listened & listened well. Oranges were the main message. "Give me oranges at all times of the day & night!" I would wake for more oranges! Suddenly with my normal appetite switched off I was on alert for whatever my body really craved and the menu it demanded was very healthy- junk food was completely unappealing & fresh, raw food with plenty of liquids a must.
Sometimes the carer needs to be cared for. It isn't uncommon for healers to get 'burnt out'. It means you've got things out of balance & been doing too much giving without taking enough for yourself. A week being housebound gave people a chance to give back to me. I was very touched by the friends who shopped for me, did washing up, picked up my prescription, fetched my son from school, sent absent healing & generally checked I was okay. My teenage daughter pitched in & managed to cook a few meals for herself & her brother, admitting she quite enjoyed it. The habitual helper became the helped & a little balance was restored. It was nourishing to the soul to see that people cared enough to spare me some of their time & wonderful to realise that I really was completely supported by the Universe.
Space to please yourself. I picked up knitting. Really I relearned it because my mother taught me as a child. Being ill gave me the perfect excuse to try something new & slightly frivolous that I just hadn’t made time for, but it was such fun! I played with aromatherapy oil blends & came up with some real mood lifters. Maybe you could while away the time with a jigsaw, read a slushy romantic novel, watch favourite old films. Why wait for illness to strike to indulge ourselves like this? I think I should have a ‘just for fun’ list on the go at any one time.
Be patient this was the biggie for me. At the start of the illness I kidded myself it would be a twenty four hour bug. Then it would be all over by mid week, then by the end of the week. Finally I had to accept that this was real full-blown flu & it would take as long as it would take to work itself through my system. In recuperation I learned to be kinder to myself, to be patient with my recovery.
You only get one body per lifetime, so make friends with it, listen up and keep your one well.