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Getting Down With a Cold!

Painting by Julia Fehrenbacher

This is going to sound crazy, but I got down with a cold this weekend! And I am ever so thankful. Really.

Here's why...I forgot how hard it is to stay connected when you don't feel good; when the only thing you can tune into is your aching body, and stuffy head. I had forgotten. It'd been so long since I'd been sick. This weekend, I was reminded, and I had the opportunity to do it differently. I decided to flow with my sneezing, my running eyes, and my body aches--as an experiment. I decided to look at my cold from another angle, and to use it as a practice.

I kept asking myself the entire time, what I could learn, and how I could break free from my mind that wanted to throw myself a pity-party. I was looking for something profound, but in my state, the main message I was getting, was slow down.

I figured I had two choices. I could abandon all routine, or keep it going, but feel very bad in the process. I decided that I was going to embrace being sick as part of the paradox, part of what makes feeling good something I appreciate as I experience the contrast of feeling bad. Instead of seeing myself as lacking in health, however, or missing out, I decided to see myself as given this experience to help me grow. It was my girls' turn with their dad for most of the weekend, for which I am grateful, as I am very sure I would not have been able to navigate this weekend in the same way had they been there making demands. Pretty safe to say I would have crashed, and there would have been nothing to write. We'll save that for the advanced practice!

So, after a couple of days, I look back at what wisdom was offered from being sick. The first obvious lesson was compassion for those on their paths who are chronically ill, physically, or mentally. Would the sun shine as brightly for me if I were ill all the time? Would I stop to notice the beauty around me?

I would like to think that the new me would settle into whatever it was, and see what was behind the disruption of form, and in the end see the beauty and what it had to teach me, but it would certainly be another form of advanced practice, as my connection to Source felt pretty weak with just a little cold.

I had the amazing gift to have rented Fierce Grace, a documentary about Ram Dass, a spiritual leader, who in his older age, suffered a stroke, and who is now helping many continue their spiritual journey through the aging process. I had no idea I would be sick when I borrowed it from the library, but I was so glad that I was when I watched it. It made me take it in on a deeper level. This man has had to completely re-educate his physical body after his stroke. He has a hard time speaking and forming his thoughts, and being a celebrity with so many, he is forced into these kinds of situations a lot. Yet, as I watched him chanting from his wheel-chair, his voice full of emotion, and his patience in allowing himself to be handled by his assistants, and his courage to share how his stroke made him lose all faith at first, my heart began to sing. It was his stroke, he says, that began his real spiritual work. This is where a much deeper allowing began for him and a deeper dis-identification with form, when his world of form was blown apart from how he'd known it, and from which he was comfortable. This was a profound surrendering.

Being sick made me look at my attachments, all that feels stolen away when the body is not functioning at "normal"; my precious energy to take me outside of my house, my indispensable mental and physical energy to complete daily routines, to write, to practice my spiritual awareness of situations, my patience (this one was hard when my girls got home!); my five senses that I take for granted, when food tastes good, touch feels good, smell is a given, and when eyes weep only when they are supposed to.

When I let go as best I could of these attachments this weekend, and just flowed with what I needed at the moment, I felt much better. I was able to focus more on healing and feeling connected. I kept reminding myself that it was an illusion that I wasn't connected to my spirit, and that my consciousness was being pulled more into the realm of the body, because of all the "painful" sensations, and that the connection was being obscured. Then I decided to let go of what "connected" needed to look like. It was just different. I felt more connected as I looked at things that way.

I spent the first day mostly resting, but the next day, I could feel myself wanting to take advantage of the down time, when I didn't have the mental energy to read or write, to clean my house and do laundry. I decided to flow with housework, with no expectations of what I'd get done. I was open for any improvement.

Here I sit tonight with ALL of my laundry done, bedding washed, bathrooms cleaned and floors mopped--and to top it off, a new light fixture installed--all accomplished by myself, while I was sick. Wow, I'm impressed just thinking back about all I was able to accomplish. Seriously, this was cool. Why?

Yes, it is great that I got it all done, but what is wonderful, is how it felt. I decided that sick didn't have this loaded, conditioned meaning for me, that I should be in bed. I decided to let myself flow with whatever I did, with the intention that it was mostly my thoughts about being sick that needed healing. I let my body do what it could, and didn't demand anything of it more than it could do. Apparently, however, with the thoughts out of the way, it spared me quite a bit of energy.

Although I am not 100% back yet, I am feeling inspired by this time I had to work through something that I resist and am afraid of: my body being sick. But as I open up to alternative realities, I notice, that our perception is what causes us the most pain. It is confirmed for me, that even if a higher perspective stays limited to the physical realm, with no talk of God, existence of a soul, or life beyond this one, it makes sense to find ways of reshaping our thinking to bring about a more peaceful experience of our time in our bodies.


  1. So much insight here and goodness. And strength. and mindfulness.

    We can always choose a new perspective--what freedom there is in that.

    You are in such an allowing and peaceful place--very inspiring.

  2. Brooke,

    Your words of wisdom are wonderful. You are such a gift to all of us. If you need anything, groceries, cold meds, Kleenex, do let me know. I'd be glad to help.

    George D.

  3. Thank you George. I'm doing much better today. Thank you for your sweet comment, and for reading.


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