The Role Of Spirituality in Health – Illness as a Message from the SoulJoyce Jamieson May 24, 2022
Society is finally realizing that there is more to us than just our bodies. Indeed, it’s our thoughts and attitudes that determine the very structure and health of our bodies. We are spiritual beings. And the body is the foundation for our spiritual growth. The creative spirit is in all. Spiritual growth means becoming more and more aware of the connectedness of all creation.
The more we clear our negative beliefs and memories, the freer we are to experience the beauty all around us, and the freer we are to let our natural way of being express itself in the world. Our innate nature is to express love and acceptance to all. Spirituality is a process wherein we learn to express all we can be. Within that definition, then, everything we do, everything that happens to us, becomes an avenue for personal growth.
We generally view illness as meaning that there is something wrong with us. What would happen if we viewed illness differently – as the spiritual aspect of our beings expressing itself in a way we cannot ignore? With this perspective, we can see illness in a more positive light.
Physical Symptoms as Messages from the Soul
This is not such an odd way to think. We are composed of four dimensions: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual (body, mind, spirit). All are connected. Change one and the others must adjust to maintain equilibrium.
The physical aspect is the most dense. We can see our bodies, whereas the other aspects we experience in more abstract ways. We feel them. Our feelings are quicker, more adaptable than our bodies. The same is true of our beliefs. Spirit is pure energy, and therefore very flexible, very quick to change and adapt.
Feelings are felt directly in the body. Beliefs drive our actions. Together, feelings and beliefs create the life we live. However, beyond our physical, mental, and emotional aspects is our spiritual aspect, whether or not we consciously acknowledge it as part of us. Spirituality is at the heart of who we are. It’s that inner drive or passion that keeps us striving to be more, to be the best we can be. It’s what pushes us to keep striving towards our goals in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
Spirituality is a process wherein we learn to express all we can be. Within that definition, then, everything we do, everything that happens to us, becomes an avenue for personal growth. While we may think we are in charge of our lives and directing our own life path, the “still, small voice” within us is the true director.
Everyone’s spiritual goal is the same – to let the inner light shine clearly and brightly. To accomplish that means opening to live a life from the heart, not from the head or ego. It means to live life from a place where decisions are made from love and trust, not from fear.
We all want happiness, inner peace and soul fulfillment. Yet our daily decisions and choices do not always lead us in the direction of our goals. We were all born with open hearts, but that openness inevitably caused us to be hurt. To survive and protect ourselves from even more hurts, we closed our hearts to varying degrees. Now, as adults, keeping our hearts closed is what causes us hurt.
Our bodies are like filing cabinets, with our whole history stored in our cells. Where we store negative memories, we hold tension. We block energy from flowing freely throughout the body. Over time, the blockage of trapped energy may become chronic pain or manifest itself in other physical symptoms. These symptoms in the body are our spiritual aspect expressing disease about some aspect of our life that we may need to adjust or bring back into alignment to get back on track with our spiritual goal.
Finding Meaning In Our Illnesses
What if we could accept the outer, external part of our lives as a mirror image of what is happening internally? Then, rather than judging illness as physical imperfection or weakness, we could explore the question: what is this experience trying to tell me about my life?
Perhaps we say “yes” in situations where we’d rather say “no”. Perhaps we do things that we’d rather not do. While some compromise of our own wants and needs is part of life, we may go too far and diminish who we are, our spirit.
The consequence could be mild twinges or stomach aches. These are subtle signs saying, “I’m upset.” We may ignore the signs or pop a pill to suppress the symptoms. But our spirit will not give up. The symptoms may become stronger or manifest in other ways if we continue to suppress them.
We can ignore the signs of dis-ease – or we can begin to explore how to make changes so we can speak and act in alignment with what is important to us. To be healthy, we need to take this voyage of discovery. There is truth in the saying, “If you do not take time for health, you will take time for illness.”
Even broken bones may be expressing a spiritual need. Perhaps they are saying, “I need time out. I’m being pushed too far, too hard”; or “You are always doing for others. Now here is an opportunity to learn how to sit back and receive, letting others step forward and do some of the work.”
Cancer, too, may have a message for us. Cicely Saunders, who founded the hospice movement in England, said if she could choose, her death of choice would be by cancer because it allows one to say good-bye. Cancer also gives us a second chance to live the life we want to live, a chance to say, “It’s my turn now.” It may be an opportunity to discover what’s important to us if our tendency has been to always defer to the wishes of others.
Viewing everything that happens to us as meaningful is a very freeing position from which to view life. It means dropping right or wrong, fair or unfair. It means accepting what is without judgement.
Such a view doesn’t mean we’re helpless or hopeless. It means we’re becoming aware, asking ourselves, what lesson am I being presented with here? While we are states of chaos, hurt and pain, our experience may not seem meaningful. However, over time we come to see how much we’ve grown through the experience. We’ve grown spiritually.
A masseur tells the story of a client who was in a car accident. He had been thrown forward into the dashboard, and his thigh was damaged. Surgery was required. The injury was repaired, yet the pain would not go away, no matter what the person tried. The masseur asked the client if he had talked to his leg and explained what had happened. The man hadn’t considered doing anything so strange. As the masseur masssaged the thigh, he told the man to describe to the area exactly what had happened, that it was an accident, and that the experience was over. The leg didn’t have to remain “on guard” for the next assault. As the client talked, the whole area relaxed. The pain left, never to return.
There are many similar stories, all true, and all with the same outcome. The body wants to be healthy and whole. First, however, fear has to be released from the cellular memory for healing to occur. If we can view life as presenting us constantly with only two choices, love or fear, then it is choosing fear that holds us back and causes us pain. Underneath the layers of “negative” emotions is fear. Choosing to shut down physically or verbally, rather than expressing what we are afraid of, blocks the energy flow.
On the other hand, as we become more aware of our feelings and develop self-esteem, we can love ourselves enough to be more present in our bodies. We can learn to recognize what is happening in each moment and realize when we are shutting down our energy flow. Then we can choose a healthier option. This is the opportunity that illnesses give us – whether through simple aches or more serious issues.
It’s time to stop looking at the body as a machine. Like everything around us, it constantly presents us with the opportunity to learn more about who we are. It encourages us to honor ourselves and others as awesome beings seeking to overcome the ways we limit ourselves. Illnesses can be the key to helping us unlock our potential to be all we are meant to be.