I’m sick. I’ve got RA and at this moment I have extreme difficulty walking. This is a bummer, yes, but it also just “is what it is.” This illness has led me to deep practices that have enriched my life, and in the coming months I may include allopathic medicine in my response to it. I’m not sure yet. I’m apprehensive, but open. I want to be motivated by possibility with it, and the doctors I’ve visited so far are trying to motivate me out of fear. I have an appointment with a new Rheumatologist tomorrow. We’ll see.
My challenge today is that I don’t know how to respond when people ask me, “How are you doing?” Often, I say, “I’m very happy today.” or “I’m very inspired by this thing I read.” But, they often follow up with, “How is your body?”
I don’t know how to answer.
It is how it is. Many aspects of my physical experience are quite lovely. I can still type and write, I rarely feel nauseous or get headaches… My joints ache, lately all the time, and I’m at peace with it so I don’t particularly need to complain about it, but people are disappointed.
There’s also an underlying concern that if I were really “doing the work” (spiritual work, nutritional work, supplement work, hatha yoga or other restorative physical practices) I would be healthy. That’s the mark of wellness, after all. Health. Vitality. I’ve got to admit, it sounds great, and I would very much like to experience vibrant health. And everybody and her brother has several ideas on “the cure.” I know. I’ve tried a lot of them.
I’m also the happiest I’ve ever been. My relationships are harmonious, my mind is often absorbing material reminding me of the Oneness of Life and the majesty of being alive. I’m committed to presence practices that ground me in the present moment, open to the field of being, which influence every other moment of my day. I want these things to count towards my health and vitality, not just the condition of my body!
In all of my work and reading and exploration, I’ve only found one line (in a Paul Selig book) that says, (as usual, my paraphrase) “You do what you can to care for your body, but you can’t be attached to the result. You have no idea what blessing may arise from what you call a curse. ” It also reminds me of another Selig concept: Fear is part of love, too, it just doesn’t know it.
We are ableist in our society. We think everything needs to look like what we want it to look like to be OK. It doesn’t. Another thing about Selig’s work is the idea that when we see a poor person, or an infirm person, the idea is to honor “This is God.” And if they are hungry, yes, feed them, but you don’t need to “fix” them to make them holy. They are holy. Even this difficult-to-witness version of a human is every bit as holy as the most glamorous specimen.
This past week, I signed up for Selig’s 5 week seminar on PEACE. In this week’s recording, in response to someone talking about (conceptually) blessing everyone they see, to contribute to their holiness, and The Guides responded with “You can never be holier than you are right this minute. This is true for all. Your experience of your holiness, or of another’s may be enhanced, but it is in recognizing what is already there.”
Sometimes I want evidence of spiritual progress in the way of increased physical health. Seems like a relatively valid desire. Sometimes I want physical health just to be able to be engaged with my family and friends in more dynamic ways. Also fair, I think. And I do what I can to enliven my cells and my heart and my head to create an environment where vibrant health would thrive. I seem to be missing something, but Good Lord, I cannot consider myself ‘less than’ because I am not able to walk normally. But, sometimes I can’t help but use it as evidence that I’m a failure. And that usually comes when someone is disappointed that I’m “not better yet.” Ah, I can’t blame other people. It comes from time to time on its own.
The Bhagavad Gita teaches practice and non attachment.
I practice quite a bit. And that non attachment allows me to be ok, even when i don’t get the results I might hope for and you might hope for, too. I would like to develop the ability to respond to people and their very kind and compassionate health inquiries in a way that honors both of us.