“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires.” – Dr. Clarissa Pinkole Estes
I have been thinking so much about the signs of our times. As one who has always been an ‘out of the box’ thinker, I find myself looking for meaning and precision about the state of our country, and the state of the world. Is there some meaning to be gained from all of what is happening? Have we finally come to a place where we can see how harmful our compulsive addiction to duality is? Are we living the koan of the ‘illness we need for our healing?’
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Illness As Healing
As a physician, I am always looking for the aerial view, the bigger picture, what an illness means in my patient’s life; and seeking to understand it not just physiologically but symbolically. I see the body as equipped with the capacity to heal. We are all born with this capacity.
Our body knows how to heal itself with one caveat — the environment we create for it. We have learned from the field of epigenetics that genes can turn on and off based on the environment they are subjected to. We know that prayer has healed many and a change in diet can reverse disease. We may consider disease reversibility as a miracle, but it is not. It is just our body doing what it knows how to do.
Many spiritual traditions see disease as information that the body provides us for our awakening, even if the awakening is as obvious as changing the food we eat or the thoughts we think. We know that chronic depression sabotages the body’s capacity to heal and seeking meaning evokes this ability. I believe the body often manifests illness to detoxify us. In this capacity, illness can be viewed as a purification.
Illness as a Vehicle For Transformation
Many of my patients who have suffered from life-threatening illnesses have been transformed by them. The illness evoked the seeker in them; they viewed disease as a portal, a door that led them into a deeper level of meaning, where their capacity to understand the meaning of life and death deepened them beyond their conditioning by society. They entered the inner sanctum and accessed their inner Wisdom and what they have called Medicine of their Soul.
This is a paradoxical journey into healing, but one that requires us to stretch our perspective beyond what we are taught by our culture, and especially our medical system. From this perspective, illness can be seen as a stage in our journey to wholeness. I see our country today in a quagmire. I see us as suffering from a grave illness.
What We Must Do
I invite us to see this time from an aerial view — as a moment in a larger process. We are suffering from an illness that can take us deeper into our collective healing. We must create the proper environment to evoke our healing. We must seek alignment by behaving with integrity, love, truth, and respect for one another like never before and open our inner eye to see through illusion. We must remove value from what we have thus far assigned it to; progress at the cost of process, fixing at the cost of healing, money at the cost of contentment. We must assign value to integrity, truth, love and common ground.
We must, we must.
When we choose to live in this way, we align with our Soul. We become the light in the darkness that Dr. Estes writes about. This is contagious. We ignite others to live from this place alongside us. It offers us all the courage to be authentic and to allow for transformation.
Maybe we were born for this time, and we created this illness to seek meaning like never before. Maybe our healing lies in weaving meaning from this ill time, to finally seize the opportunity transform ourselves into a world we have always longed for.