Illness is the journey to your healing.
The journey through your illness may be precisely the very experiential journey you need to realize your healing and become something greater.
After all, we don’t “get” cancer. We are not healthy one day and then get cancer the next day. Cancer, like any illness, is a process. We “become” our cancer, become our illness over time as it becomes an expression of us. We “are” the illness we manifest. Like cancer, our illness arises out of our own tissue and cellular make up. To rid our self of our illness is to rid our self of a part of our self. Instead of only thinking about illness as something we “get,” something separate from ourselves needing to be removed or defeated… as we do when we undertake the “war on cancer,” we might well do better viewing our illness as a transformational journey that must be undertaken and completed for our healing to occur. This way we end up transforming our self into something more whole and complete instead of getting rid of a part of our self.
If we view our illness as such a journey, then the “true job” of a health care provider must be as an educated, intelligent and compassionate guide directing us through the chaos of our illness into the new order of wellness awaiting us at the completion of our healing journey. By understanding illness in this way, I will ask the important questions needed for discovering your healing hidden in your illness process. These questions are no longer solely focused upon, “How do I eliminate my patient’s illness or help my patient fight it?” More significantly, the questions become, “What is it within my patient that needs to die…that needs to be sacrificed, released, and transformed?” and “What is it in my patient that needs to be reborn… what is it that needs to be facilitated and realized into a fuller manifestation of wholeness?”
Illness serves us by acting as life’s destructive, disintegrating, and profaning process. It is important to appreciate illness as being absolutely crucial to our health as death is absolutely indispensable to life; just as the rotting wood and the decomposing debris on the forest floor is absolutely essential for the healthy growth and lushness of the forest’s canopy. Health cannot exist without disease and our healing is impossible without the transformative opportunity the chaotic struggle through our illness offers us. Healing through our illness is our path toward greater Being.
Like the phoenix out of the ashes, something of the “old” order and function of who we have been, something of our life style, belief system and story must be let go and sacrificed in the transformative fire of illness in order to make way for our healing and “new” order of being. As Paul Tillich informs us, “Life must risk itself to win itself, but in the risking it may lose itself. A life which does not risk disease… even in the highest forms of the life of the spirit, is a poor life, as is shown, for instance, by the hypochondriac or the conformist.” Our illness is the physical evidence of this sacrificial, transformative process occurring in our life. It is the evidence of our healing taking place. It becomes the very process through which we must pass to complete our healing journey. As Tillich further reminds us, “Healing is not healing, without the essential possibility and existential reality of illness.” They are one and the same, just different sides of the same continuum.
The Dynamics of Illness
The extent to which you manifest your illness when caught in the state of transformational chaos is directly related to:
- Your initial vitality (the strength of our “vital force”) and the potency of that vitality needed to propel you through the chaos of your illness;
- The characteristics of the triggering stimuli (stressors; environmental exposures; dietary, genetic and life style risk factors; etc.) associated with the onset of your illness;
- The intensity of the chaos causing your illness into which you have been plunged;
- The magnitude of resulting disorder you undergo due to your illness; and
- The degree of rigidity and resistance you have to the transformative change demanded of you through your illness process.
With these factors in mind, it becomes imperative for a good healthcare provider like Dr. Donovan to:
- Assist you in maximizing your vital force;
- Understand the characteristics of the risk factors and pathology underlying your illness;
- Minimize or palliate the intensity of the chaos (pain and disability) that is underlying your illness and distracting you from your transformative work so as to facilitate your ability to more readily and consciously complete your healing journey;
- Minimize the resulting disorder of your illness without suppressing the transformational process of it; and
- Remove or reduce the obstacles obstructing your healing process on all levels.