This aggregate you have built is layers upon layers. We might falsely divide it into your mental, emotional, and physical bodies – but even if we do so, we find that each of these “bodies” is still an onion built up of those experiences you’ve arrested and made a part of your “lower self.” And such division doesn’t serve us well, because it leads us to isolate our actions and the divine messages we receive away from our essence.
Everyone will, if they have not yet, experience mental problems, emotional problems, and physical problems. This is an inevitable unveiling of God – first we know Him as a leader of actions and guider of choices, then we know Him as a consoler and comforter. As you unfold and God in turn unfolds within you, you will encounter different aspects of Him – all true, all parts of the life journey. In your successes and failures, you are being helped to know God in many of His different aspects. Such a blessing and a “reaching out” we receive!
Before you conclude that you are ill, before you obey your chosen medical professional, psychiatrist, or spiritual counselor – consider whether you might be confusing divine messages with illness.
If I have an energy drink or consume dairy, my old ankle wound Crouch starts speaking to me. That is, if I consume the pain of animals, my physical pain returns. This is not illness, this is guidance. Do you have animal products in your diet? Do you take supplements or medications? If you do either and your body is complaining, then change your actions to see whether or not you are simply being guided. When people complain about the increasing frailness of old age, they are usually just bitter about their sensitivity to the increasing volume of the life lessons they are receiving. Yet, as time runs out, isn’t it wonderful that He speaks more loudly to us?
If I have too much sugar, I will soon experience something that feels very much like depression. If I take sleeping pills to have a deep sleep, the next day will have a rolling dark pit of depression and bitterness – but it’s not truly that. It’s more guidance; if I change my body’s biological seasons, winter comes sooner. Do you eat a lot of sugar or salt, a lot of “food” from the industrial complex, or try to avoid every unpleasant experience through the shelves of your local pharmacy? If you do and your emotions are complaining, change your actions to see whether or not you are confusing divine messages with illness.
What about social anxiety? Body image issues or unhealthy attachment to food? Addictions? These problems may all boil down to divine guidance away from certain things you’re consuming or certain things you’re missing. Beyond food and pills, we consume when we watch television or read. We consume when we spend time with people. We consume whenever we do anything other than meditate and pray – and all consumption has the potential to create illness. If we don’t allow these experiences to move through us, they may become lodged and become a part of our minds and bodies.
It could be that your “illness” is just empathy – perhaps you are experiencing the suffering of someone you spend a lot of time with. It could be that the unhappiness that marks your days just comes out from an unhealthy relationship, a job that’s not a right fit for you, or some sort of chemical or biological contamination in your home or office. Take some time off, change your location, and be by yourself for a while before you come to any diagnosis or remedy.
Now, whatever physical pain, emotional distress, or mental issues you’re experiencing are still valid. We must still practice mindfulness and fully feel these things to allow them passage through us, to avoid adding them to our collections. We must still meditate and sit companionably with these visitors that arise within ourselves to know them and ourselves. Regardless of the form of divine messages and illness, this remains our essential practice.
But our medical establishment is most familiar with pills, shots, and surgical procedures. Each of our various health professions work nearly exclusively in one of the false divisions of mental body, emotional body, or physical body – yet, the guidance we receive might appear as a phenomenon in any or all of these areas. When we are guided, we should not always first attempt to drug the form of the message away, or chop it out, or seek to find its root in childhood memory, or pray it away. No – when we are guided, we should accept any meaning and change our actions in accordance with the guidance we have received.
Certainly, we need our doctors, psychiatrists, and pastors. We need our self-help groups and well-meaning relationships. Divine guidance comes in these forms too, just as it appears as suffering. There is honor and courage in trying to find help when you need it. There is truly illness, grief, and the crumbling of all these temporal forms that we might cling to. Never be dismissive of someone else’s suffering – one person can never fully decipher divine messages for another. The Children of God are unified through compassion and community, and this work of realizing the falsehood of illness can only be undertaken by the individual for him- or herself. Like all spiritual matters, it is a relationship of the human and God, or (if you prefer) the intersection of mind in time and eternity.
Help others and be helped by others, dear heart, but also be open to being nudged back into acting like the Child of God you are. Let yourself be helped by the Beloved, before everything else.