Dealing With Chronic Illness: A Spiritual Practice for Endurance Phoenix Rising 2



My favorite version of the legend of the Phoenix has it resurrecting from the marrow of its own bones…again and again and again.  That is what it is like living with a serious illness that has no cure in sight.  It’s always there.  Like the Phoenix rising from its own bone marrow, those with disease have to invent creative ways to deal with it.  I offer the following spiritual practice.

We cannot displace the physical disease, so this is a way to spiritually displace the dis-ease it causes for a time so that we can change our focus to life-giving activity:

Begin by placing a vessel on an altar with a candle beside it.  This vessel will hold your dis-ease for as long as you intend.  Calm yourself with music, breathing, or whatever way helps you.  Say:


I accept that this dis-ease is within me.
(Pause and let the feelings catch up with your mind.)


I acknowledge that I cannot displace it physically.  It is here for the duration.


I promise to make every possible effort to aid my body in coping with this dis-ease.


Acknowledging that the ego-presence of this dis-ease is not the same as the disease itself, I put it in this vessel and place it on my altar.  May my mind be free of its hold on me for ________ (for however long you need.)  May I receive the grace to create ease in my body and soul for this time.


I place my dis-ease in my nautilus shell each morning and I find that it does help me to shift my focus for a time.  If I am finding it hard to cope during the day I will revisit the meditation.  It really does feel like I am reaching into the marrow of my bones and pulling myself up again.  I hope that this is helpful.  Peace to you.

nautilaus shell on altar



Photo Credit: “Phoenix Rising”

NOTE: 9-8-17. Upon reading this brilliant passage I offer it as another but similar way of dealing with chronic illness:

“Maisie knew that each day had to be taken as it came, and to do her work she must be flexible, to move the fabric of time as one might if sewing a difficult seam, perhaps stretching the linen to accommodate a stitch.  If consideration of what the next hour might hold had been too difficult, then she thought only of another half an hour. She had explained this to Priscilla, once, and her friend had asked, “What’s the longest time you could bear, Maisie?” And she had whispered, “Two minutes.” But at some point the two minutes became five, andthe five became ten, and as time marched on she was able to imagine a day ahead and then a week, until one day, almost without realizing it, she could plan her life, could look forward to time laying out the tablecloth as if to say “Come, take what you will, be nourished and know that you can bear what might be on your horizon, the good and the ill.”

from In This Grave Hour by Jacqueline Winspear


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