Observing illness


No control means letting go

When friends or loved ones are sick or not feeling well, it is easy to have compassion and offering loving wishes and goodwill. But this can be a little different when we are the one who is suffering physically. Our own physical aches and pains can seem overwhelming, and mindfulness becomes a singular focus of self-pity.
Today is such a day, that I have become extremely sick with some sort of cold or flu bug. Coughing, sneezing, constantly blowing my nose, body aches, and an overall feeling of exhaustion. All in all, there seems to be a lot going on for me to focus on and be absorbed with. Yet still, even with great difficulty breathing, I sat to meditate for a while this morning. And how grateful I am to have done that.

Beginning my meditation, I immediately became grateful for the fact that I could still sit and do this. I was happy that my determination remained to practice even though I was feeling so bad. And almost instantly I became aware that this was only my body. My mind is not sick at all! And there is no reason for my mind to be sad or upset or disturbed, because this is truly the nature of our existence. Our bodies are constantly subject to aging, illness and decay. And this is not new news to me at all.
So with this awareness, I began offering myself a deep loving-kindness and goodwill. The same unconditional love that I would offer anyone else that I care deeply about. And just as I would do to another person, I offered this to “the David” without attachment, desire or expectation.
Immediately I became more relaxed and comfortable, and my mind was experiencing joy. Happy that I have this life and this body. Happy that I have this sickness that increases my awareness and understanding.

So I see that being sick is not a bad thing, anymore than getting old is bad. In actuality, nothing that happens in our life is bad unless we view it unskillfully. With the whole idea of good and bad just being delusions we create through stories that propel our wheel of dissatisfaction and suffering.
Perhaps “well, happy and peaceful” are attainable, so long as we are equally as satisfied with “sick, sad and agitated”!
They key that I see here, is that by letting go of our idea of control, we can experience the freedom to enjoy whatever is present. Without any judgment or desire that anybody or anything be any different from what it actually is. And this most certainly includes ourselves and our own physical bodies.
So today, I hope that you are physically and mentally well and healthy. But like me, if you are not, then I hope you are happy and accepting about that as well. Because, if we live mindfully, we can truly die joyfully.

May you be well, happy and peaceful.