I love Ram Dass. I spend hours a week listening to his podcasts. (Richard Alpert) is a teacher who emirates love and compassion with every breath and is extremely funny and entertaining which is a bonus for a guru! Now don’t get all freaked out when I speak of “gurus!” A guru is simply a teacher. I am inspired by many different advisers from (all living) Marianne Williamson, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, The Dalai Lama, Eckhart Tolle, Alice Walker, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Pema Chodron and Byron Katie, to name a few. Many different religions, all wonderful beings.
So a few weeks ago I was hit by that no good, rotten flu bug. It got its talons in me and wouldn’t let go! Day after day the only thing I could do was get up and wander to my comfy chair with my kleenex, Breath of Life essential oil, vitamin cocktail and velvet blankie. Days became weeks and the only that changed was my pajamas. Had I had a JOB, I would have been fired! On week three I was finally able to get out to go the grocery store and Bed Bath and Beyond for a humidifier! Big outing, exhausted afterward. I had a lot of time to catch up on all the newest tv. That is fun for about three days. So then I thought I would use the time to watch things that I felt were spiritually or intellectually redeeming!
Ram Dass’ documentary called “Fierce Grace” was exactly what I needed to watch while I was convalescing. It took place four years after he suffered a near death stroke. His right side was mostly paralyzed and he couldn’t move without the help of an attendant and a wheel chair. His vast vocabulary was lost in the ethers of his damaged brain. His life had changed dramatically. And herein lies the blessing. CHANGE.
The more we grasp on to the past, the way things were, the more suffering we will have to endure. Aging, sickness, disease all push this lesson. If we are attached to the body as it was as a twenty year old, we suffer. If we push away sickness and disease, hating every second of it, we suffer. Because you are identifying YOU as your body. This skin sack that really has nothing to do with YOU, the divine being. Ram Dass said “physical pain is a worthy adversary to my spiritual practice.” Oh my. I was feeling so sorry for myself because this FLU (not disease, not broken bones, nothing incurable!) this measly little virus had taken me down for three weeks. And I was bummed out. “When will it end? How can a person feel SO bloody terrible for three weeks straight?” ONLY three weeks. What about those constricted by illness and disease for years? What level of spiritual development and personal growth do you have to rise to in order to deal with THAT? Part of it is a lesson of letting go: letting go of the past and how things were, letting go of expectations of how you thought your life would look, letting go of the EGO attachment to body, and letting go of judgement around weakness (which is how our society inevitably sees aging and sickness.) The other lesson is acceptance of change. Because the “more you resist, the more it persists.” Why? What you focus on becomes your reality. Energy attracts energy.
So I had to drop the pity party and I immediately became so empathetic to those suffering. To endure physical pain, physical illness, physical challenges, to have your body constantly rebelling against you must be absolutely one of the highest of challenges.
Then this small stream of sunshine came through the window. Gratitude. Thank goodness I have had this opportunity to slow down. Thank you God for my awesome husband who has been the willing gopher, running all the errands and being so incredibly patient with my nonstop coughing and nose blowing! Huge gratitude for my Mom and friends who delivered homemade soup that was filled with love and nutrition. Thank goodness for my home based business that steadily marched on and I didn’t have to worry about being fired! SO SO grateful.
I am moving on from illness but I know that this is just a little precursor to the bigger gift in front of me…aging in the second half of my life. Ram Dass says “to age in a conscious way, fearlessness is an essential ingredient. This fearlessness involves the willingness to tell the truth, to ourselves and to others, and to confront the contents of our minds. We must be willing to look at everything – our own suffering as well as the suffering of others – without averting our gaze, and allow it to be in the present moment. Rather than closing ourselves to fear, we learn to open to it, to sit with it, allowing it to arise and pass in its own time. By simply looking, with no push or pull, mindfulness is strengthened. You will find that the moment you enter this witness state, the boundaries of the Ego are loosened, and fear begins to change.” I love it. Thank you Ram Dass. I pray that I will age with grace, acceptance and patience.
let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray. -Rumi
body & wellness