Only My Opinions

I(we)llness

Just recently at the beginning of Spring, I decided to go out for an evening walk around the area where I stay. I am well aware that having lived in it for a number of years now, there are still parts of my city that I am still not yet familiar with. For instance, there is this main road I normally use for going to most of my frequented places; the supermarket, the car wash, a local stadium, or connecting to the highway (which used to be called a freeway, until it was no longer free to drive on it). The different places I know around, are mostly in relation to this main road, and taking any other route – like on this evening – would either delay or even get me lost.

On this evening, I walked 4 kilometres to a local mall and on returning, decided to use another route which I had never used before, with the hope that somewhere along the way, it would reconnect me to the familiar main road. After a long walk of turning and curving through the streets, I realised I could no longer see anything familiar. I began to feel lost as everything became new and the only remaining thing I could recognise was the fading sight of the bright lights of the mall, which by then was very far behind me.

I grew a bit concerned that if I went too far in the wrong direction, it would likely turn out to be a very long night when I finally have to walk it all back. At the same time, I could not help being captivated by the beauty of being out walking in the city streets at night; with the calm breeze, the even-spaced white lights along the pavement, with the taller orange lights providing a warm atmosphere that made the city truly welcoming. I could occasionally be aware of myself taking in a deep breath of fresh air and then, cathartically, exhaling all of it; or even hear the sound of my footsteps as I waltzed slowly past each waiting street lamp, with my stereophonic head-phones playing a background music composed, arranged and performed, as if especially by design, for this very occasion of life. I felt the joy of being alive and the gratitude that comes with the ability to use my body to experience whatever forms of delight that availed themselves on this evening. Yes, I was lost, but still, I was immersed inside an experience so profoundly fulfilling, which for two hours or so, felt more important than even the need to find my way home. It was only later on, when I decided to actively look for little signs of familiarity around me as I walked, that I got to this intersection where some road I did not know, intersected with the main road that I know so well, that I finally followed my way back home.

To be ill, just like being lost in familiar surroundings, is like straying away from the familiarity of our good health. We know how we feel when everything goes well with our bodies, and we appreciate the great things we are able to do. When illness sets in, it causes a deviation from our normal living, and we find ourselves wanting to continue to do the things we usually are able to do, but having to contend with the inconvenience and sometimes, the inactivity caused by pain and limited ability.

We may decide not to go to work, because we are ill, and do whatever it takes to be well. Other times, we are well, but may have something at home that we regard as being more important to attend to or do, than go to work, and would often not be comfortable to disclose that benefit to our employer, for fear of being forced to choose between it and our job. In the latter case, illness, whether real or feigned, may come handy as a means of achieving the happiness we hope to derive from staying home on that day. This is similar to a child who may refuse to go to school on a particular day, and feign illness as a way of convincing the parent to allow them to stay home, often because of something they would rather stay home and do, or for fear of something at school – punishment for school homework not done or even being bullied, among others. For these and many other reasons, illness is something that could be used both ways as a motivation to restore ourselves back to the life we know, or a means to derive other forms of happiness – if we could show some convincing evidence of it.

As if to establish which of the two applied in each situation; Jesus would often ask whoever he would heal, whether they wanted to be healed; a likely result of the need to help only those who need to be helped. To heal someone is to help them to get well. It is a collaborative effort where one wills to be healed, while the other helps them to bring about the healing. The process of healing another, becomes easier when both the healer and the one who needs healing agree on a common goal of achieving healing. It is, however, difficult and almost impossible to heal someone who is not willing to be healed, who for some reason, may be deriving some benefit from their condition. When we derive happiness from a problem, we become reluctant to resolve it. However, if we perceived all illness as something that we need to always rid ourselves of, then illness, in all its forms, would be eliminated everywhere it is found, simply by the power that each person has, to heal themselves or be helped to heal.

We generally regard illness in one of three ways; as a hindrance to our ability to do what we enjoy; as a benefit that brings us happiness in certain ways, or a combination of the two, which would put one in a state of avoiding complete healing or complete illness. When we perceive illness as a hindrance to what makes us happy, we set out to overcome it and achieve our happiness. On the contrary, when we regard illness as a benefit, we feign it when it is not there. When it is real, we avoid ridding ourselves of it, and may even engage actively in efforts meant to sustain it.

Falling ill compels us to establish whether we have some benefit to derive from it or not. From that evaluation, we decide whether or not to be healed; whether to get better or get worse. How we fare with an illness, depends on the choice we make, which determines what evidence we are going to look for and to see. The evidence we choose to spend more time and effort looking for, determines what ultimately becomes our reality – what we experience. If we choose to be well, we immediately set out to look for evidence of our wellness – every big or little thing in and around ourselves that seems to suggest that we are able to achieve healing. The illness then makes way for our good health, as we gradually see more evidence of this good health in the rest of the body. To heal is to perceive something more valuable outside of the situation of our illness, by building a structure of happiness outside of the illness we are in. This becomes a goal which strengthens our will as we set out to move away from the illness, towards restoration.

When we decide to not heal, we choose to look for evidence that would prove to us and everyone we want to impress upon, that we are ill. Not choosing between the two, keeps us in a state of wanting to see benefit in both, by enjoying healing where it helps us, while also enjoying illness whenever it is convenient. To choose to be in a position where we continue to see our illness, is what ultimately leads us to perceive it as an inextricable part of ourselves that we need to surrender to. That state continues for as long as we do not make the decision to see evidence that would prove otherwise – our wellness.

The things we experience as being real in our everyday lives, are those that we choose to focus on, more than the ones we ignore. When we focus more on anything, we get to see more of it than anything else. This is because with focus, we get to see the little details that anything is made of, which we would not be able to see if we were not focusing on it. The details increase our understanding of what we are perceiving, allowing us to perceive more possibilities through which we could derive some form of happiness from the situation. By understanding the inherent cause and effect relationships of that situation, may lead us to find the situation more useful than we previously thought, because we could manipulate these relationships and create even more ways of being happy in it. If we analyse illness that way, we are very likely to perceive some form of use for it and then dwell longer in it.

The only way to survive any situation of life, is to perceive a better one beyond it. Anything more valuable, that we may perceive outside of a current situation, is enough to draw us away from it, only for as long as we do not hope to derive it from where we are. This is how we ever find the motivation to either go somewhere or remain where we are. To derive any form of benefit from being ill, is to create a structure of happiness within it. The most logical result then becomes to sustain the illness and the happiness we derive from it, which leads to perpetuating it. Our motivation to recover from an illness, is in remembering the greater benefits of being well, which is a value that is not in the illness itself, but outside of it – requiring that we move out of illness in order to achieve it. It is through perceiving illness as a hindrance to our happiness, not as a cause for it, that we summon the necessary will to do what we should to restore ourselves back to good health.

The very moment when we decide that we want to heal and we have no benefit to derive from our illness, is the point at which we begin to overcome the suffering that it brings – we begin to heal. This is because in that decision, we choose to remember the benefits we want the body to heal for – the things we would do when it were not so ill – and then look for those abilities in the body, that are not affected by it, which could already help us to realise the benefits we would want the healed body to help us realise. This happens when we focus more on what is already going well with the body, instead of what is not. We explore the body with more awareness, to see and appreciate the greater abilities it has, beyond those affected by the illness. It is with the help of these already available abilities, that the functions of the body that are affected by the illness would be helped to recover, the same way that we could use one hand to scratch and ease the itch on another, or hop on one foot to ease the pain of the other.

One morning we wake up with a headache and instead of staying home and nursing it, we decide to engage in some activity that we believe would bring us happiness. Somewhere during the day, we get reminded that we had a headache earlier on, only to find it has disappeared. How did that happen? Because we chose what we want to focus more on, gave it more time, physical and mental effort, and made it more relevant to our happiness, while denying the illness any of the attention, time and effort. This is not negligence; it is the trust we bestow upon the natural healing ability that our bodies have.

The body is able to restore the necessary balance to itself when allowed to. This happens when the mind does not confuse or slow its speed of recovery by valuing two things at the same time; something that the mind does by perceiving any benefit in the illness. The only intervention of the mind that is required for healing of the body, is only in willing for the body to be healed. Having willed, we need to distract our minds elsewhere, doing things that we want the body to heal for, and allow the body to work towards only that one purpose, to the exclusion of anything else. The body would then, faithfully, rise to the occasion and restore balance wherever it is lost, within itself. When the mind finally returns to evaluate the state of the body it last saw when it was ill, it must only be to look for evidence, however small, that attests to the progress that the body has made in healing itself, but not evidence of its continued illness. It has to do this with the exclusivity akin to a wise ant that takes a grain of sugar home, leaving the grains of sand behind.

Our confidence in the innate ability of the body, to heal itself, could be sourced readily from how growing up, and at different times in our lives; we each sustain injury or experience pain in the body, which may heal without any medication. This is the most basic and very profound evidence of the fact that our bodies possess an inherent ability to restore themselves, and for that reason, it exists only to serve the will of the mind that guides it. This is in contrast with our long held beliefs of an independent body that has the ability to ‘attack’ us, as is the case in the phrases we use such as ‘heart attack’ or ‘renal failure’, among others. Being a vessel that serves only at the behest of the mind, any failure or attack we may perceive from the body, would solely be a result of how the mind that is supposed to guide it, chooses to perceive the body or to use it. Trusting our bodies could be regarded similarly to our confidence in the intricate combustion systems of our cars, where sparks of fire and highly flammable fuels work together in a safe way, to make the car do what we want it to do, without expecting it to burn. The intricate functions, components and ingredients in a human body, also work with each other in the same way, to realise what the mind has willed for.

The body works every moment, to adjust to the will of the mind. There is no greater amount of gratitude we could show for its efforts, than find evidence of those things it has already done well, in whatever form they take, and however small they may appear. This is our appreciation of the body’s ever willingness to serve the will of the mind. For that reason, any deformity we may perceive in the body, is only a result of a deformity in the mind’s ability to perceive its body with appreciation. Our perception of the oneness of purpose between the mind and the body, could only result in the state of healing that they both work together to restore, which is only possible if the mind values nothing that illness could offer, but everything that wellness would make available.

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