Meditation and Illness
Meditate When You Feel Lousy!
I love writing on this blog about meditation and the benefits of these amazing practices. It inspires me to be able to put into words what I see as one of the most important gifts that you can give to yourself in your lifetime. So it’s with this inspiration in mind that I’m writing this (very short) post today, in spite of the fact that I feel horrible. (This post is short, but I’ve added a number of links to useful posts that you may enjoy.)
Right now I’m sick as a dog. I’ve been in bed for two days, feeling utterly lousy, with a nasty respiratory flu. That’s why I want to share with you how grateful I am to have a meditation practice to see me through this tough time.
As we’ve discussed in this blog before, meditation isn’t about sitting on a cushion and blissing out, and then going out into the world and being our same anxious, preoccupied, uncompassionate, usual self. It’s about bring meditation out of the box of our habitual way of doing things and changing how we are in the world.
Taking a challenge like illness is one of the best ways that you have of working with difficult circumstances and changing how you work with your mind in your daily life. Again, meditation isn’t about blissing out, it’s about being real, being present, in spite of whatever may be arising in your life or in your mind.
In the past few days, I’ve been confronted with sleepless nights and groggy, congested days. While I can’t honestly say that I’ve enjoyed these states of physical discomfort, I can honestly say that there’s been a very “happy” part of me bubbling away all the while. This happiness is what I’ve referred to previously as “unreasonable happiness,” a happiness that isn’t based on external circumstances.
How Do You Use Illness as a Meditation
When you’re confronted with a challenge like illness, how do you use it as an opportunity to transform your mind? After all, there’s nothing particularly “happy” about being sick.
Transforming your mind isn’t about changing your circumstances, it’s about changing how your mind is around the circumstances. Actually, using difficult circumstances can be a very powerful way to enliven your meditation practice, it can brighten the flame of awareness.
Meditation is About Saying Yes to Every Opportunity
Too often, as meditators, we choose when we’re going to meditate and how we’re going to meditate. We work with particular emotions, feelings, and circumstances that feel “doable” while tiptoeing around those that feel insurmountable. We work to be patient with our children, but remain viciously impatient with ourselves. We’re gracious with others at work who make mistakes, but slam our spouse when she/he messes up at home. Or, as in my profession as a nurse, I work to be present and compassionate with my patients, but lack that compassion and presence when a peer snaps at me or reminds me about something that I’ve forgotten to do.
Meditation really is about taking all of your daily life and activities as opportunities to practice. It’s about saying yes to every opportunity, recognizing each moment as precious and as a way to strengthen the training of your mind.
Meditating when you feel lousy is, in a sense, easy. After all, you’re sick, you’re stuck in bed or at home, you’ve got plenty of time. So, if you’re sick, what the heck are you waiting for??! In the meantime, stay healthy! Now I’ve got to go and get some more hot tea….
How To Meditate
Maybe you’ve already got a meditation practice. If that’s the case, great! Keep it up. And feel free to use all of the content from this site to support you in your efforts. If you haven’t started to meditate, begin now.
Many people don’t meditate because they believe that they need to do “something special” in order to meditate, maybe you’re one of them. “Doing something” special isn’t the case. All you need is your breath, and a few minutes of time set aside to begin your practice. Here are some tools to get you started:
- Meditation audio for using your breath as the anchor of your attention during meditation.
- Ebook and two chapters from the book, Minding the Bedside: Nursing from the Heart of the Awakened Mind, on how to meditate.
- Even though my book was written with nurses in mind, I continue to get feedback from those who have bought it who aren’t nurses that they find it useful in their lives. So, check out the book, Minding the Bedside: Nursing from the Heart of the Awakened Mind. It’s really written for anyone. You can even buy it in a Kindle version!
This site has tons of tools for learning how to meditate.
I encourage you to look through the HUNDREDS of articles that I’ve written and especially check out my weekly meditation tips and other useful meditation materials provided for your health and well being. And please let me know if you’d like to discuss anything with me, have any questions or need clarification regarding anything that I’ve written about.
Thanks for visiting and have a mindful day.