The other day I was speaking with a friend and colleague who had come down with a cold/flu bug and was feeling less than optimal.  In addition to her physical discomfort, she was also battling the mindset that some guru had spouted, teaching that illness is all in your mind and that if you can master your thoughts, then you wouldn’t get sick. (And by extension of this philosophy, if you are sick, you must not be a master of your thoughts.  Keep going, grasshopper.)

Another friend who rarely gets sick came down with flu symptoms around the same time, and had used all of her herbal remedies, subconscious belief-changing tools, and the usual array of body and energy support practices, and yet the symptoms persisted.

This all happened at the same time I was experiencing a slightly stuffy nose, and while minor, it got my attention because I, too, rarely get sick, and usually can address it right away with energy and body support that shifts the frequency before it becomes a full-on sick day.

Each of us knew to listen, slow down, and trust the process, not be in resistance to it.  But the conversations sparked a deeper discussion around our fundamental relationship with existence, and what it really looks like to live in harmony with life.

Certainly we all prefer to be healthy and experience bodily wellness.  But just as Rumi wrote,

What hurts you, blesses you. Darkness is your candle. Your boundaries are your quest.

I could explain this, but it will break the glass cover on your heart, and there’s no fixing that.

You must have shadow and light source both.  Listen, and lay your head under the tree of awe.

When it applies to the body and illness, the fundamental belief that has been beaten out of our society is the understanding that our body is the source of profound intelligence

We have been raised to think that if the body is not functioning optimally, that there is something “wrong” and that we must apply the usual dominance-paradigm thinking to “conquer” symptoms and manipulate the faulty system back into order.

However, the body serves an important function as an interface between the spiritual realm and the human experience.   The body is where energetic patterns congeal in physical form, providing clues as to what imprints have been stored in the system.  The body also acts as a tuning fork, providing guidance through resonance as to what is authentically aligned with your soul’s path and what belongs to other people.

So to minimize the body as an object to be controlled with the mind (or with medications, or any other approach) is to miss a profound dimension of intelligence and information, simply because we are not fluent in speaking “body.”

When I was racing triathlons regularly, I was obsessed with “optimal performance” and providing the right nutrition and workouts and work/rest balance and all the rest, because I wanted my body to perform on race day (and every other day) – to rise to the occasion as I discovered just what I was capable of, with this body.  

And while I blew through all sorts of limitations of what I believed possible for myself – not only in those seasons of swim-bike-run races but as a marathon runner, rock climber, skydiver, scuba diver, and more – none of these physical endeavors provided insight into my body’s intelligence like giving birth to my son.

Pregnancy put me in immediate contact with the miracle of life, as Something Bigger Than Me knew exactly how to grow a human inside the womb of my body, according to the perfect blueprint, creating a fully functional nervous system, musculoskeletal structure, even tiny eyelashes and fingernails, all in perfect timing. 

And then to witness the freight train of power that was my uterus during labor, was to be humbled forever in awe of the miracle of life and the vast intelligence of the body.

Which is why, when teachings float across my radar around the “power of the mind,” I smile and nod understandingly, knowing that such teachings were created by someone who’s never birthed a child and who therefore is not speaking from a place of comprehending the power held in the body.

The body gives us feedback as to the vibrational frequency of everything – whether a thought, a person,  a goal, a memory, a project, or a decision – and allows us to use the “tuning fork” quality of our human experience to assess what’s ours and what’s not, what’s aligned with the highest good of all and what’s not.

But living from frequency requires an entirely different context of meaning-making than living from “the power of the mind.”    The “mind-dominance” paradigm suggests that we, as humans, know best and can and should use our minds to create experiences accordingly.   But without the intelligence of the body providing signals as to what is resonant for the greater good of the whole, what makes us so sure that what we think is best, is actually for the best?

Now if someone starts from aligning one’s human mind with the Mind of God, or the mind in service to Infinite Intelligence, then yes, we can talk about the power of the mind – as an expression of the larger Whole.

In the case of illness, there are so many reasons why “sickness” is not carte blanche something to be avoided.  

  1. Sometimes, we have been living from an upregulated state of constant activity, and there is a genuine reason that we need to rest – but we continue to override signals and clues and keep going anyway, until the body finally says “she’s not getting the message!  How can we slow her down so she will be quiet, still, and SIMPLY BE?”
  2. Sickness can be a way in which our body purges toxins and dense energy from our systems.   Usually the symptoms include some form of excretion – whether nasal discharge, congestion in the lungs, or intestinal purging – and allows the physical body to release energy in a physical form.   My hypothesis is that regular care for our excretory systems can allow this to happen in lighter doses on a regular basis – for instance if we sweat frequently, cry regularly (either allowing ourselves to feel the heavier energies as they move through, or cry tears of joy, or laugh so hard that we cry), and ensure that we are consistently circulating lymph through bodily movement – we are detoxifying in small doses each time we do this.  Nonetheless, the way we live in modern society takes in far more toxins than we realize, all the time, in the form of electromagnetic fields, unprocessed emotions that circulate toxic thoughts, processed foods, diminished quality of air and water, and so much more.   My point is, sometimes sickness is a way the body system creates space for higher frequency energies to inhabit us, after the purge.
  3. Sickness allows our consciousness to focus in different ways.   When we are sick, we want to feel well again, and that desire becomes stronger when our experience of wellness is absent. Desire is an evolutionary force, and the catalyst for intensified desire is one of limitation, restriction, or in this case, sickness.   Think of it like a slingshot, with sickness (or any contrast or limitation) providing the stretch and tension that allows the object of flight to soar, when the slingshot band is released.   Without tension, the object goes ‘plop’ with little momentum or velocity.   Life doesn’t evolve in a tidy straight line; it moves through cycles and seasons and stages of growth, and sickness can simply be a necessary precursor to a growth stage, in ways that our minds cannot understand.
  4. And of course, as an indicator of stored patterns, sickness can often provide clues as to what imprints and beliefs have been stored and crystallized in the body, perpetuating the illusion of separation from Oneness, and therefore providing information as to where to focus consciousness for alchemy and healing.  This can be a fruitful inquiry on one’s journey of awakening and coming home to Self.

Ultimately, Rumi says it best:

You must have shadow and light source both.  Listen, and lay your head under the tree of awe.

There are so many more gifts in “unpleasant” experiences than we would prefer to acknowledge.  And so rather than remaining present in a state of wonder, so that the miracle of life can direct energy as it knows to do, we make sickness “wrong” and try to fix it, change it, manipulate it into what we think is “right” – all from our humanness that somehow believes we know best or that we are in charge.

Slowing down is not a sign of weakness. 

Resting is not a sign of failure.   

Listening to the body is not a path of laziness.   

Allowing the body to move through whatever it is moving through is not an indication of confusion or inadequacy on your part.

Rather, it is an indicator that we are available to live from a holistic, cosmos-centric perspective that allows multiple ways of knowing to inform our actions, rather than limiting our perspective to a rigid mind-centric way of functioning that insists upon dominating our experience and environment.

When you slow down, pause, and tune in, you know what choices to make and what actions to take, that are the right ones for you and for the whole.   

Whatever symptoms present themselves, are the ones for you to work with in that moment.  

Be present with what is here now, lovingly partnered with the body you’ve been given to experience humanness in all of its rich texture.   

This is what it is, in this moment. 

Listen, and lay your head under the tree of awe.