By Myra Lewin
In the face of a problem, it is quite easy to get distracted by thinking that it is possible to heal without bringing about change within.
Last winter, I came to see this in my own life. After a summer of extensive travel and radiation exposure, I had begun to experience signs of pitta imbalance in my skin. I returned home and went back to my regular schedule of teaching and consultations, assuming that since the issue had come from toxins in the environment, things would correct themselves when I got away from the exposure. But the problem got worse.
It took me several months to hear the message that I needed to slow down and take time for healing, which is what I ask my clients and students to do. When I finally heeded the call from my higher self, I saw that my pitta dosha needed reduction beyond my usual routine. I changed my regular choorna, stayed out of the midday sun and added sitali pranayama to my morning practices. As soon as I listened to the messages my body had been telling me, the skin issues went away.
Why we get sick
Symptoms, illnesses and disease are a part of life. We don’t need to succumb to them, nor do we need to fear them. They are nothing more than signs from the God of our hearts that we need to slow down and turn inward.
So many people get sick this time of year because they ignore the small signs of imbalance. They push their bodies beyond the limits, trying to reach the high (and often unreasonable) expectations. There are social events to attend, gifts to buy, travel plans to fulfill -- it seems there is little time to pause. But your body cannot sustain an extended period of overactivity, which is a state of rajas. It will lead you quickly toward tamas, inertia.
Your higher self, which exists in a state of sattva (harmony), is always offering you ways to maintain balance. If you don’t listen to the message, it gets louder. This is why we get sick, especially during those times when we think we have no time to get sick. In this way, illness is a gift, shining light on aspects of your life that you have turned away from. It is a call to rest, to slow down and take some distance from the distracting pace of life. When you look at illness from this perspective, it can bring great healing.
Go within to feel better
The more you cultivate internal connection on a daily basis, the more health you’ll experience. By this I mean true health, which goes far beyond how you feel on a physical level. This is about feeling well in all aspects of life, mind, body and spirit.
When you go within, you find the path to heal any imbalance. Inside is the safe place where you can accept what is in front of you with an open heart. It is the place where you can find the courage you need to walk your own path, without holding yourself up to unreasonable standards. This is where healing begins.
Knowing what it means to go within for direction takes practice. Meditation is a good place to start, but it doesn’t end there. As you learn to look inward on your meditation cushion, you’ll see that this time is just preparation for the rest of life that happen with your eyes open. Make it a habit to meditate (even five minutes a day will make a difference) and you’ll come to know the soft voice of your higher self. Then you will be able to access this well of knowing and wisdom at any time.
With inward reflection, you’ll see how easy it is to follow a path of true health. If you’ve had a busy week, ask yourself what you need to regain balance. You may find your body needs simple meals made with split mung (we have three recipes here for you to explore). If you’ve pushed too far in your asana practice, pause and listen. You may hear that it’s time to take a few slow breaths in balasana, child’s pose. The answers are there, waiting for you.
The foundation for a meaningful life
Healing doesn’t have to be complicated. All it takes is wanting to be well and committing to knowing yourself on a deep level.
If you are ready to heal, cultivate these three tendencies: honesty, self-responsibility and courage to let go of limited thinking. These build the foundation for a meaningful and fulfilling life. Any time you go within for direction, surrender to the path that will lead you here. These tools will make you more equipped to face an issue that is lingering, whether it is physical, emotional or mental. Honesty is the first step. When you find and accept the truth of a situation, you’ll see that there is no one to blame -- not even yourself. With this stronger sense of personal power that comes with truth, you’ll see that you have the ability to resolve obstacles in front of you by releasing ways of being that no longer serve you. It’s that simple.
Take time this season to go within before you extend too far outward. Tend to that garden inside now, when things can be at their busiest, and your path to true health will unfold in beautiful and profound ways all year long.