For the past few days, I’ve had a case of strep throat. It started as a little nuisance, then progressed into some body aches, and eventually sickhit my sinuses and started producing a bitter phlegm in the back of my throat, including an unpleasant cough. My first instinct was frustration which was shortly followed by resentment: “Doesn’t this virus know how much work I have to do? To top it off, I am never sick! I’m also leaving the country next week. There’s no way I’m traveling to the other side of the world feeling like this!” In sum, I was sending my body a very clear signal “No way!” My resistance was a key factor in the progression of how I was feeling. My stress over how much I had to do didn’t help any either. I had a week full of yoga classes ahead and unfortunately, teaching yoga isn’t something I can do from my office chair.

I detected my resistance and I decided that in order for me to be “OK” with feeling bad, I had to do a few things. I wanted to continue feeling productive, so I kept up my morning walks in the sun, by the ocean air. I wanted to honor resting, so I did what I could-even if it only meant writing 2 emails. I gave up caffeine (which is unheard of for me, I looooove strong black tea!) in exchange for lemon water. I made small adjustments to accommodate how I felt, but also to address my guilt and resentment at feeling useless. I also began to drop into my body, feeling fully the discomfort, restlessness, pain and tiredness. I have a tendency to push myself to do things, because I love feeling accomplished. But this wasn’t time for that. I released the phantoms of expectation. I decided that all things that seemed “imminent” weren’t really imminent. I gave up a lot of the “stressors” I had before feeling sick—the plans, the negotiations with partners, the search for more writers and the constant need to be “doing something”. This was hard for me.

So often we put pressure on ourselves to perform, produce results, feel productive and be useful. There’s so much force involved in these things. Moreover, someone whose constantly on the go tends to generate negative self-talk and they don’t take the time to check in with themselves, to listen, to feel. Sickness stems from resistance, the primary force of which is lack of self-love. It’s ok to get sick. In fact, it’s important. It reminds us how fragile we are. It also reminds us that we need to slow down. It helps us to be with ourselves and to nurture ourselves. It provides us with strong and deep messages of healing and self-care. We don’t realize how harsh we can be to ourselves and our bodies sometimes, putting unnecessary pressure on ourselves, comparing where we’re at to where others are at, trying to control people and situations and feeling rejected or unloved as a result. Sickness first happens in the mind. Sickness stems from consistent habits of not loving ourselves, ironically forcing us to do the very opposite once the mental “unlovingness” turns into physical “unlovingness”! Letting go of the expectations I had of myself was my form of self-love and non-resistance.

In sum, please enjoy the great lesson, the wonderful teacher that is sickness. Let her come to you with her message of love and tenderness, of healing and truth that you may come to better understand yourself and your relationship to your world.

2 Replies to “Understanding Sickness”

  1. Jeff says:

    Hi Kate,

    Just read your introspective thoughts on sickness. Good to see you learn from sickness. When I feel some illness coming on, I immediately go into a hibernation state and drop all my plans. I never mess with Mother Nature/God. I rest, drink lots of water, fruit juices, and load up on the vitamin C- 8,000 mg per hour. Health always comes first. Lots of times I nip the bug in the bud. Hope you did as well. I learned the hard way from pushing myself while driving across country and then going to my cousin’s wedding while fighting a bug. I got sick, and 10 years later finally got well from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Treat your body like your office, as Cindy Crawford said.

    Best wishes and health, Jeff

  2. kate says:

    Thanks for sharing, Jeff! I think we have to understand that getting sick is the physical manifestation of not loving oneself. Many people don’t realize that the physical manifestation was first conceived in the mind through negative thinking. Working too much, exercising too much, gossiping too much or doing anything without balance can create the physical manifestation of imbalance-sickness!


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