As I write this, I’m surrounded by a littering of tissues and three half-full cups of green tea. I slept for about four hours last night because it was so hard to breath out of my nose. My voice sounds nasally, deep, and distinctly congested. At this moment, my limbs are heavy and I feel like I could not get off this couch even if I were being chased by a wild cheetah.
I am sick with a cold for the first time in four years.
I feel lucky in that I rarely get sick these days. Yet, because of that, I forget how much a little cold can bring me down for days.
I’m not actually all that surprised a doozy of a cold has hit me after four years of congestion-free bliss. As most of you know, last month was very stressful and emotionally draining as I dealt with two family deaths. I’ve been in the process of recuperating my energy and replenishing my overtaxed adrenals since then. And I know being sick right now is really important for my body. I know this cold is good for me.
Illness is a great way of releasing.
The post-nasal drip I’m experiencing is helping me to release some of the emotional residues I was holding onto as a result of stress, grief, sadness, and shock. The congestion in my head is helping me to release the experiences of the past month from my very cells. Old memories, regrets, and emotions get to drain out of my body and my energy field through the snot leaking out of my nose. This cold is part of my healing.
I’ve been thinking about illness lately as I am preparing to do a podcast with the very talented Jessica Flanigan, a friend of mine who is a clinical nutritionist (and just released an amazing book). We are going to be speaking about the role of chronic illness in the spiritual path, which is a topic that is close to my heart as I have dealt with many physical issues on this path. I’ve been asking for guidance as to what to share about this topic. And every time I sit still and ask for the truth about illness, I hear “Illness has value.”
This is not something we are ever taught to consider. In our culture, illness of any kind is considered bad. The medical model sees illness as something that has gone wrong with the body, an imbalance of some kind. We fight illness with a vengeance. However, from what I have studied and learned from my own experiences, it has become clear that illness can have tremendous value.
In this case, the little virus that has entered my body is helping my cells release long-held pain and memories. This cold is helping me process my grief and anguish. I know, deep down, that this cold is here in service to me.
Previous illnesses I have had, some quite serious, have also shown me this deep truth. Illness can have tremendous value. Sometimes they come in to help us clear out our bodies and emotions. Sometimes they come in to move us onto a different path. Sometimes they are here to clear a karma. Sometimes they come in to wake us up to parts of ourselves that need attention and love. And sometimes they come in as grand wake-up calls to ask us, “Do you really want to be here? Alive? Human? Prove it.” When that wake-up call comes, it can be terrifying. But if that call comes, it serves to get us to choose life, to really choose this life we currently have.
There is value to be found in illness. Illness helps us to release, heal, clear, and if we are lucky, wake up. We get to wake up to our true selves and to our desire to really be here, alive on this planet.
I’m not going to fight this cold. I know it has a job to do. I’m going to drink my tea, blow my nose, watch some Netflix, and let it do its thing. I’ve found that the more I accept the gifts of illness, the easier illness can resolve itself.