Illness as an Ally

How we are within ourselves is continuously mirrored in our bodies.  When we are persistently at peace and at one with ourselves, the oneness with self embodies itself and manifests as wellness or well-being.  However, there are not too many people who stay in that place of psychological and spiritual al-one-ness and if connection with self manifests itself physically, so too does disconnection from self.  When this disconnection from some or all aspects of self persists and goes underground (out of consciousness – out of mind – out of sight), the self finds a way through the body to manifest that disconnection and attempts to connect it, but at a physical and substitute level.  The hope of the self is that this wise physicalising of the inner conflicts through an illness will draw attention to the real psychological and spiritual actions being called for.  When the person misses the deeper meaning of the illness (the embodiment), it is likely that the symptoms may escalate or, certainly, reoccur.  Consistently, the depth and intensity of the inner disruption will be accurately mirrored in the physical symptoms that appear.  True and lasting healing of illnesses lie at the psychological, social and spiritual level and whilst I have respect for medical treatments, these interventions do not cure the illness of the spirit.  What is also true is that all the medical advances have not reduced the rate of illness by even one per cent.  Medicine, typically, focuses on reducing or eliminating the symptoms and concerns itself with the causes of illnesses.  Its ambition is to eradicate illness, but this is an impossible goal because as long as people are ‘sick’ in their spirit, illness will continue to thrive because its purpose is to bring about inner individual harmony.  The self is ingenious in finding new illnesses to manifest and attempt to correct the inner imbalance.

In my experience, the body is an ally; it lets me know at any one moment whether I am in a wellness (at oneness) cycle or in a distress (disconnected) cycle.  Physical well-being carries a message about a person’s love of self and love of others.  Physical illnesses are also an ally because they try to do for us what we are not consciously doing for ourselves.  Rather than viewing illnesses as a threat, we need to see them as opportunities to make what lies hidden manifest so that we can consciously get back on the psycho-spiritual well-being path.  Whilst I do not ignore the causes of illness – because, ultimately, the cause lies in the shadow self – I principally examine the intentions of a particular illness.  Furthermore, I know that the same illness (say, influenza) in several individuals has a unique intention for each person so afflicted.  Similarly, the reoccurrence of the same illness in an individual may well have a different intention second, third, whatever time around.  It is my belief that the intention of any illness is to correct psycho-spiritual disharmony by getting the person who is sick to respond in certain ways to the presenting symptoms.  A deeper and less evident intention is to ‘wake-up’ the person to their shadow world and take responsibility to free themselves from the shackles of hiding their true self.  Not easily done in a world where it is dangerous to be real, authentic, honest and at one with self.  Safety to be real is an essential ground for individuals to reveal their true selves, so that illness no longer becomes the substitute way of being honest.  The nature of relationships around a person’s illness will need considerable attention, due to the fact that nobody wants to be fearful and sick, but love and support are crucial if well-being is to emerge.

The location of an illness is another important source of information to the deeper intention of an illness.  Is the embodiment located in the sense organs (calling for ‘sense’ to be made of the symptoms or for ‘common-sense?’)  Is it located in the support organs (maybe alluding to the need to be more ‘supportive’ or ‘definite’ with oneself and others?  Is the embodiment located in the vital organs, such as the heart, the lungs, the liver, the kidneys, the brain (may be calling for ‘vital’ and ‘deep-seated’ (like the vital organs) issues to be realised and resolved.  The intensity, frequency and the endurance of the illness symptoms are also important metaphorical barometers of the seriousness of the person’s inner turmoil.

Consideration of the inner and outer circumstances in which the illness appears are also critical to getting to the shadow issues that have become physicalised.  The inner world of thoughts, images, dreams, memories that were there before the onset of the illness as well as those thoughts, feelings, dreams and images that accompany the embodiment are often sources of enlightenment.  The person’s outer life circumstances – family, intimate relationships, isolation, crises, what’s happening with career and relationships at work are further issues to be examined.  All in all, it is not just the embodiment itself that brings crucial in-formation but all the circumstances surrounding the illness lend support to its deep and healing purpose.

Dr. Tony Humphreys is a clinical psychologist and author of The Power of ‘Negative’ Thinking.