blog-image

Gratitude for Everything, Even Illness

BY Parvati

Hello! I am back in my studio in Toronto after a tremendous journey to Europe meeting luminaries from the business and arts communities in support of the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary (MAPS). It has been inspiring to see the momentum building and the essential connections we have made. MAPS becomes a reality when each one of us speaks up in one voice to create a global movement. If you have not yet signed the petition for MAPS, please do so at http://parvati.org/arctic-ocean.
When I got home, I went to my altar and thanked the universe for the grace of my safe return. Cherishing these seemingly small things gives great meaning to my life. Through my experience of healing from a paralyzing spinal injury, I have been tangibly shown just how dependent we are on grace for every action we perform. We are truly not the doers. We live as an integral, interdependent part within an interconnected and infinitely compassionate universe. Everything in this moment arises by grace.
It may seem easy to lose sight of this reality, especially when this moment brings things we don’t like. For example, during my trip, I caught the flu and was at business meetings reminding myself to also remain in healing presence. It might have been tempting to see illness as an obstacle to happiness. Yet, grace is always available in every moment. I would like to continue my discussion of gratitude from last week, this time touching on how we can find gratitude even for things we may find challenging, such as illness.
Colds. Flus. Injuries. Accidents. We have all suffered from various illnesses to varying degrees of severity. When we are met with something that challenges our health, many of us can feel irritated that our busy lives have come to a grinding halt. The illness can feel like it is in the way.
Our body is no longer doing what “we” want “it” to do. We feel less in control, perhaps even powerless, and that can bring up all sorts of deep emotions and possible spiritual awakenings. (I look at this more in depth in my blog entry Listen To Your Body Talk).
Many may choose to medicate their way through any discomfort until it has passed and they can resume their lives. There is nothing wrong with medication, as long as it is done with mindfulness, not as a means to move away from or numb our sense of personal connection, the voice of our soul. There is a time and place for everything.
If you are faced with an illness, perhaps try to thank the illness for the experience you are having. That may sound backwards, but perhaps it is not. If we give thanks for what we have, we begin to release resistance to it. When we release resistance, we let go of undue energy tied up in things that do not serve our highest good, so we may return to flow. At the root of gratitude is non-resistance to what is. Gratitude is a state of receptivity. Gratitude is not born from a closed fist, a closed mind, a closed heart. When we open, we receive. When we give thanks, we feel abundant and tapped into the infinite.
Your tendency may be to push away pain and discomfort, wanting it gone. It will pass eventually. What if instead of pushing, you thanked the pain or the discomfort? What would happen? Does the pain or discomfort offer any wisdom? Is it simply an interference? Look again. I am quite sure that within the pain or discomfort there is guidance to your spiritual growth, the voice of your soul clamouring for your attention.
I have had many physical ups and downs over the course of my life, from the minor to very severe. Through first-hand experience, I have seen the frailty of the body, and the immense power it has. When I stopped fighting it and expecting it to do what I wanted it to do, I started to work with it. I started to see that my body offers my consciousness a direct link to Nature and helps me remain in balance within a much greater whole. In this way, mindful connection to the body roots our spiritual evolution and keeps our ego in check.
The next time you get a cold, or are in a situation that asks you to slow down, practice seeing the situation and your body differently. Instead of resisting what is, give thanks. Give thanks for the situation so you may go deeper inside, get to know yourself better, learn to live with greater interconnection, to see this moment as grace.
I find thanking my body has become a part of my daily routine. When I do my yoga practice, I am listening to my body, not pushing. I thank the muscles for stretching. I thank my bones for bearing weight. I thank my organs for doing their work. I thank my body for being such an amazing vehicle for my spiritual journey while on Earth! Wow! I have also started to thank the very gift of breathing, the gift of walking. These are things we take for granted. Bringing our attention to them helps us remain humble, open, honest and true.
So today, write a list of what you feel grateful for in terms of your health and physical self. If you are feeling poorly, approach your illness with gratitude rather than pushiness. Ask the illness what it is teaching you, and open to the wisdom there. You may just find a whole new you is ready to be born.
Then lie down in a quiet, uninterrupted setting. Place one hand on your tummy and one hand on your heart. Then feel your body touch back… your body is touching your hand. Feel the relationship there. Then send gratitude to your body. Allow gratitude to fill you up, like a liquid light quenching a deep soul thirst. You can sense or visualize all your various body parts in this way, such as thanking your brain, your eyes, your mouth, your heart, your lungs… You can go into as much detail as you wish. Give thanks. Receive the gratitude. Take as many opportunities as you can to sincerely thank your body for all the hard work it does… all so you may evolve while you are on this planet.
Until next week,
Love yourself.
Love others.
Love our world.
We are one Earth family.
Namaste,
Parvati