A version of this article was originally published in Green Fire Times, February 2017.
What really happens inside when our health has spun out of control? Have you or a love one ever been through a real health crisis, when you felt horrible and did not know what was wrong? Or perhaps you came back from the doctor with news that was less than happy. What can be done during these times to return to that all lost sense of autonomy? The feeling that we have choice, that we have hope and that there is an opportunity for quality of life to be restored.
This kind of event can be terrifying on so many levels and without the right direction and support, it can compound the health issues at hand due to the added stress of not knowing how to accept the illness.
What really helps us to get well in times of crisis is not completely about the specific techniques applied or the correct doctor although of course these help. True healing comes from health efficacy; the feeling that one has hope and choice in the face of chronic or life threatening illness. In order to turn on this inner ability to heal, one has to find the hope not just for survival but the reason for living. What are the reasons to stay alive? What efficacy or choices are available for self empowerment in the face of chronic illness? Thinking about being forced to exercise or change one’s diet can be so depressing, but thinking about one’s beautiful grandchildren or ones favorite hobbies or activities can turn around a downward spiral. When a sense of hope and a connection to why we want to stay alive returns to the mind, then the power to work with what we have been given opens up.
BLAME AND SHAME HAVE GOT TO GO
When health takes a turn for the worse there is often a projection that it is the person’s fault. Even if the cancer or autoimmune disease is 99% genetic in nature, a person can feel guilt or shame that they didn’t eat right or didn’t take the right supplements. Cancer especially is a disease that has a collective shame around it, that others put a pressure on the person saying that it is because they were so emotional or that they attracted the illness to themselves because of their “karma”……This is completely wrong thinking.
If a person has attracted a serious illness to themselves, it is about the same as enrolling in a high level PhD program. The amount of challenges that they are about to face will be as grueling as writing a complex thesis. The person should be applauded for facing something so intense. That perhaps this will yield for themselves and others profound awakenings of spirit as they go deep to face the fear and the unknown that comes with any serious illness. The sickness itself is the remedy. The amount of self knowledge gained from the bravery of accepting the illness creates light for everyone involved. It’s important of course not to cover the situation with Pollyanna style saccharine sweetness. Instead eliminate blame and shame and bring the focus towards a sense of curiosity and openness. What will this illness reveal or bring to light that was not known before?
A STORY OF HEALING
I am reminded of an older patient of mine with Congestive Heart Disease, who became so depressed at the progression of his illness. When he was reminded of what he had to live for, how much he loved his grandchildren, he astounded his doctors with his bounce back from the illness. He went on to live another 8 years, ultimately dying from the illness. The inspiration he drew from consciously accepting his illness and continuing his life with love and happiness allowed for healing on many levels for himself and his family.
THE MEDICINE OF LAUGHTER
One way to penetrate the darkness of illness is through a commitment to daily laughter. When we have a good belly laugh, our immune system is flooded with a release of stress hormones and the function of natural killer cells and other immune cells is enhanced. Your musculoskeletal system relaxes for up to 45 minutes. Think of all the veins, arteries and your ever pumping heart; these too go through a cycle of relaxation. Studies have even shown longevity rates are higher for those with better senses of humor. This could be due to the benefit of our bodies response to laughter. When we look at things from a different perspective and laugh about it, we let go of toxic emotions like anger and bitterness. All of these benefits help our bodies to be stronger and more resilient, qualities we greatly need when facing illness.
Just listening to laughter can make you want to laugh. Luckily our brains are wired to experience laughter as contagious, otherwise why would there be so many laugh tracks on TV? But don’t just watch it on the flat screen, as people, laughing together can be healing for relationships and help to develop social bonding. SO many studies show that relationships and healthy communities contribute to overall wellbeing and longevity. Try an experiment; take your friends or partners hands, lean back and let out a forced belly laugh. Keep going together and don’t stop for about two minutes. Sometimes just listening with your friends laugh will trigger a response where you start actually laughing. Either way, after a good two minutes of pumping your belly with rolling belly laughs, you will probably feel better and might get some real chuckles out of it as well. Do this as an exercise; especially if your friendship is strained as shared laughter is so healing for relationships.
THINGS YOU CAN DO
-If you usually choose dramas or serious shows, pick a comedy every once in a while.
-Be willing to laugh at yourself, reflect on your life and remember funny or embarrassing moments and be willing to share them.
-Ask others about themselves, because people love to recollect and make others laugh “So, tell me a funny story or something that happened to you that makes you laugh.”
-Have a collection of funny videos on You Tube; skits that make you laugh or funny animal videos and watch them when you feel down.
-Cultivate your own repertoire of jokes or funny stories to share when appropriate.
-Make a commitment to develop your comic timing and comic ear, just like you would your singing voice; the more you laugh, the more humor you will find in life.
RESOURCES for you
Contact me for a Complete Blood Analysis. My sessions are in-depth, personalized and will renew your hope for your process of health recovery, and a clear program for you're wellness.
Guru Ram Das Center for Medicine and Humanology
Teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation to those with life-threatening or chronic illness such as asthma, diabetes, HIV disease, cancer, heart disease, chronic pain, depression and life transitions to improve health efficacy. http://www.grdcenter.org