A Rich Book on Illness
We’re excited to hear about a new book From Illness to Stillness due out soon, by Michael Harrington.
From the Introduction
Uncovering your innermost being releases a wondrous diamond. Once it begins to emerge from the layers of conditioning, a realization dawns: you are ageless and timeless. When every free instant goes into this quest, you will no longer experience grace as the happenstance of a unique experience. It will be seen as the constant presence of all that is.
Illness is a blessing that offers a great opportunity. Sickness and dis-ease are catalysts, divine karmas that offer us a chance to pull up our wheelchair, prop up the hospital bed, lounge on the couch and rest under the tree of good tidings. An illness has oriented us towards the inner quest, highlighting the only reality.
A chronic illness was certainly not anything I thought would be part of my journey. I’m the health coach, the guy who climbed the Casaval Ridge of Mount Shasta, rode century bike rides and helped people restore and optimize their health. Besides, it wouldn’t look good on my resume:
‘Health Coach with chronic, undiagnosed illness now accepting new clients’. No, it wasn’t supposed to go this way. I believed that optimal health was in my control. If I took good care of myself, exercised, practiced hatha yoga, did Chinese energetic exercises, ate organic foods & drank organic juices, ingested high-grade super supplements- I’d be well.
After two years of chronic illness, I realized that sickness just happens, like everything else in life. Maybe it stays a day, maybe weeks or months, or it lasts the rest of your life. What if it did last the rest of my life?! Did it really matter if a mass of intense sensations, thoughts and feelings, turned into a story called illness, continued to be part of experience?
When chronic illness hit ‘my body’, it was originally interpreted as a disabling force. It was actually a fire demanding a deeper sincerity. As I began to include and acknowledge everything, witnessing the simplicity of what is, through eyes unclouded with right and wrong, this or that, a more complete recognition came to the fore. From this illuminating, but entirely natural perspective, life cannot be seen as a malicious force holding you down. Instead it is a magnificent orchestration unfolding in the most beautiful ways, helping you to unveil your own authentic, human design. I uncovered and released anger patterns, protective defenses, family & intimate relationship issues, covert and overt depression—all of the things that I had hidden from, spiritually-bypassed and separated from ‘all the rest’. The illness, at first seen as a robber who had kicked the door in and stolen my life, was in fact uncovering what was most dear. The greatest sickness, the only true llness, is forgetting what we are. Whether we are conscious of it or not, our entire lives we are attempting to ‘remember’ what we are. This ‘remembering doesn’t happen through the filter of mind but via the clear space of our innermost being.
Today millions of people are living with chronic illness. A large portion of that group are so debilitated they cannot work and have full time caregivers. Some are on the street, homeless ‘throwaways’, labeled drug addicts, dragging themselves around like zombies in ‘Night of the Living Dead’. One of the main reasons this illness epidemic has come about: We are being systematically and purposefully bombarded with chemical pollutants and toxins- in astronomical proportions. Our bodies are being forced to cope with some of the most deadly poisons man has ever known: through our water, food, aerial spraying, industry and just about everywhere we turn.
It is my sincere hope that if you or someone in your sphere has been given a disease label by the Medical Establishment, undergone a gauntlet of procedures, tests and surgeries, or inhaled pharmaceutical medications that have left you feeling even more depleted and sick, that I may be able to point you towards potential alternatives that are more in alignment with nature, remedies that actually treat the underlying toxicities.
Like a tree in the forest during a storm our body, when sick, is undergoing a transformation. It might have been knocked to the ground but the root is alive. The tree-body has been forced to turn all its energies in a renewed focus- towards the essential – and must find a way to reach the sunlight. We don’t know what is going to happen to our body (the tree); the old form is being rearranged. If you have ever been in a forest at the end of a storm, right after the intensity, there is an unfathomable stillness. It was always there but now you really notice it; that deep recognition is the opportunity encapsulated in illness.
- See also: Depth Enquiry: Gestalt Meets EMDR