(With gratitude to Dr. Deepak Chopra for sharing this article on Twitter 9/22/2012)
There is another side to Lyme disease, beyond the illness, the fears and the desperation. As I sit here searching for the words to describe it, it seems an impossible task. It is so much greater than the symptoms I thought would end my life (or perhaps stay with me indefinitely), and it exudes a beauty that makes me weep.
My quest for restoring wellness was not unlike others dealing with the chronic symptoms of Lyme disease. I researched the disease and treatment protocols fanatically, I reached out to many healthcare providers for various types of support and spent countless hours in online support groups. After a life of running around at 150 mph I resisted the sudden screech to a halt and found myself experiencing emotions that were overwhelmingly negative and fearful.
And then one day there was a shift. As I lay on the couch, feeling completely depleted, I surrendered. I surrendered to feeling ill, to feeling exhausted, to feeling lost, and I ceased (for just a moment) trying to figure everything out.The relief was extraordinary. In that one moment I became aware of how much energy I had been expending on resisting where I was. There was a stillness, and in the stillness I was present to the roof over my head, food in the kitchen and the support and love of people in my life. I was truly amazed! In the midst of all my circumstances, I discovered something beautiful inside myself….peace. And it was the first step in my journey back to well-being.
I was not suddenly a wise sage going through a process, but there is something about being aware that changes everything. Still feeling very ill, I continued to take actions to restore my immune system and my body back to health. I noticed when resistance showed up, but with the desire to re-experience peace, would practice letting go again, and again…and again. I was surprised that frequently peace was able to express itself into my experience.
It wasn’t long after that initial surrender that something else started happening. I had experiences of observing myself, like I was outside my body as a witness. The first time it happened I was driving home. I became aware that I had no idea where I was or where I was driving to. There was no fear or panic, it was just a quiet observation of myself and a feeling of knowing that all was well and that soon my brain would make the connections. During a time when my cognitive function was at its worst, I experienced this frequently. The surrender and awareness worked in a beautiful synchronicity to bring peace. The moment I stopped resisting memory loss or inability to comprehend or articulate properly, the quietness returned.
I was no master at this return to peacefulness. There were countless times I struggled and resisted, cried at the inability to function the way I used to, battled with physical symptoms that sometimes consumed my days, allowing fear to overwhelm me. And yet, a bell had rung, and we simply cannot unring a bell. I was reminded that how I experienced life was fully in my power, and the circumstances were an opportunity for me to learn about myself….and to practice.
It wasn’t a graceful journey, and yet a state of grace was always within reach. For most of a year I spent more of my time contemplating than actually thinking. It felt like I re-experienced my whole life, the intricacies of how we all provide each other with opportunities to discover our humanity, the results we produce that are directly related to the thoughts we think, the beliefs we hold onto that limit our self-expression, the decisions we make about ourselves that run our lives when we are unable to distinguish them, and the vastness of our future possibilities when we forgive the past. It was an extraordinary experience of discovering our limitlessness.
Although I was still feeling physically ill, I found myself frequently floating in a state of joy and wonderment. At that point I didn’t have the cognitive ability to articulate it or the physical energy to express it, but the experience was fully alive within me.
Then quite suddenly everything changed. I was shocked to find myself in a depression that deepened daily until I was consumed with thoughts of suicide. The peace, wonder and gratitude I had been dancing with slipped away. In the self-imposed isolation of depression I hit rock bottom, and I was unable and unwilling to see that it was exactly where I needed to be.
It took me a month to reach out to my Naturopath for support. He tested me and prescribed a protocol of supplements to correct what was out of balance physiologically, and he invited me to look within myself at the spiritual and emotional components of my depression. “Always treat the whole person…body, mind, and spirit.”
And so I looked in the dark corners and examined my feelings. What I really wanted was for some magical entity to appear in my life and steep my whole being with a love so deep it would make life worth living. It didn’t happen.
In the resulting emptiness, awareness once again showed up and I observed myself. I was looking for an outside source to experience my self-worth. I was stunned. I had not been loving my own self, and in looking for the ‘why’ I uncovered a belief I had that I did not matter. The moment this was distinguished, life shifted again. To use J. K. Rowling’s words, “…and so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”
There simply isn’t a vocabulary that can describe how this happened or what it actually felt like. It’s a feeling unlike anything I have experienced, beyond the miracle of love…perhaps it was a revelation.
What I can share is this…each of us at our core is perfect love, whole and complete. Our expression of that perfection is inhibited only by ourselves, our stories about ourselves, our fears, and our beliefs. Nothing can alter who we are and always have been at our core. Anything other than this is an illusion. Our physical experience facilitates a perfect opportunity to unlearn and surrender to the true nature of who we are. We have everything we need within us, and our access to it is stillness. Everything is simple, although granted, not always easy.
We do not actually have to love ourselves to be who we are. That would be like the ocean thinking it should put more water in itself to be an ocean. It simply IS the ocean. Who we are IS love. There is simply being that expression. It is an expansive energy, it is healing, it is well-being, it is peace.
And so as I received myself and the oneness that we all are, I wept with the experience of a love so profound it had no beginning and no ending, and it felt like my chest would simply burst open. It was blissful and I felt a complete sense of well-being.
The journey from surrender to love took a year. It was the year I felt the sickest and forgave the most. There was a gem of wisdom under the action of every supplement I swallowed, every doctor’s appointment I went to, every moment I rested, each tear I cried, and every person I connected with. It was the year I thought I was surrendering to Lyme disease but was actually surrendering to the miracle we all are. In my new life I am proud to be a kindergartener.
Life continues to come with its ups and downs. But there were those bells that rang….so regardless of the challenges I face, I now know that all the answers are within me. How long it takes to reveal them is entirely up to me.
And so it is, and so I am.
[There are hundreds of thousands of people dealing with chronic Lyme disease and tick-borne illnesses. I acknowledge the depth of their struggles, frustrations and illness. I see them as tenacious, strong, loving and supportive human beings…brimming with possibilities. It is my hope that they each find the wisdom and peace inside themselves to experience the wonder of who they are.]