Thursday, 16 February 2017

Illness is My Spiritual Path

I was hoping, when I first began this blog, to write much about my spiritual journey, my experiences with shamanism. My thoughts, in general, about the world behind and inside this world, that we so seldom speak of. It was going to be one of the tests of my courage. How much would I be willing to say?

However (as with most things, I suppose), things have not quite gone to plan. My health has been sliding downhill these last several months, and at times I have wondered if writing this blog is part of the problem. Still, I refuse to believe that that is so—and if there are specific causes, no doubt they are much more complex than I can even begin to understand—yet I do know that I should be limiting my use of technology. And therein lies the dilemma.

Without the Internet, without this blog and email and social media (as conflicted as I often feel about those things*), I would be much more isolated than I currently am, and I know I couldn’t bear that. (I think most people with illnesses or disabilities, confined to houses/bedrooms, would agree with me—sometimes it is only the contact we have with other people via social media and email correspondence that keeps us going.) Nor would I be able to share my thoughts and creative work, to make my small mark on the world, and to share my story—the whole point of blogging.

So I’m determined to continue with this work, for I know it is doing me good, having this creative outlet (and I’ve had some very encouraging feedback from my followers—many thanks to all of you!). It is frustrating, though, that I cannot write quite what I would like, because I am not able to live as I would like, and that instead I am being pulled in a different direction. I didn’t want this to be a place where I dwelt upon illness, yet that is what I seem to be being called to do. 

I few months ago I reread Kat Duff’s extraordinary book The Alchemy of Illness (1993). She says: 

Not long ago, when I turned down an invitation to attend a Buddhist meditation retreat because I was not well enough to sit upright for hours, I felt sad, wondering when I would be able to resume spiritual practices. Then, as I was falling asleep that night, it occurred to me that my illness is my spiritual path and practice—at least for now. (p. 91) 

I find this book inspiring for many reasons—it is so bursting with wisdom that it’s almost too much to take in—but this is the quote that seems most relevant as I write this. For now, illness is my spiritual path. I have no choice in the matter. 

So, what is illness trying to teach me? What can I learn from my experiences? How do I heal myself?

I cannot yet answer these questions. Though one of the things I love about writing is that I am often taken to places I never expected, and I think my path through the dark forest of illness is going to be the same. All I do know is that I am likely to share more from Duff’s book, as I revisit it and ponder it further; and I will, I hope, soon be pursuing some new treatments, and a challenging new diet, which no doubt will give me some interesting topics to explore here. I’ll also be reading about female healers and mystics, and the teachings of plants, amongst other wonderful things, and all of this will inspire my writings.

While I do hope to feel better soon—with more energy, and less of this frustrating brain fog—I also hope that I can accept my circumstances, go deeply into what I am feeling, and bring back some wisdom. If my spiritual journey so far has taught me anything, it is that there is meaning to be found in everything, even the darkest, most painful parts of life, and even in the failings and frailties of our fragile human bodies.

I intend to do my best to find the gifts in this situation, and to share them here.

*I know that technology, for all its benefits, is not healthy for me … or anyone … or the planet! I sometimes long for how life used to be, before the Internet, when spare time meant, for instance, making art, not wasting time trawling through posts on Facebook. Yet I am also very grateful for it. There have been several people over the years who I have corresponded with, and in many ways, they saved me; not to mention the access I now have to information that feeds my never-ending hunger for knowledge. I just hope I can do some good with it.


  1. Beautiful. Beautiful. So glad you wrote this!

  2. Wonderful post, I wish you strength and healing. <3

  3. You are brave to share your struggle and your quest with us. I hope your explorations into healing bear fruit. We are guided from within, but teachers are also placed in our path. On spiritual matters, I am being drawn to the radio program/podcast "On Being" by Krista Tippet. I've learned it is best to follow whatever is placed in my way. Thank you for reminding me of that.


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