It takes an occasional crisis to rip me out of a pathological mindset and fling me into the bright clear space of unknowing and renewal.
The word crisis actually means decision or turning-point.
So to me a crisis is not a negative event but a wonderful opportunity for change, a natural part of a cycle of death and rebirth.
My recent crisis wasn’t life-threatening, just a bout of flu (possibly swine-flu, but I wasn’t about to see any western doctor to get it diagnosed).
It hit me like a bus on Tuesday 1st September. I spent 4 days unable to move out of bed, then a few more days recuperating. I lost 3 kgs and detoxed all the caffeine and negativity out of my system.
I’d attempted to do a yoga practice that morning, not knowing that I was about to succumb to the flu. My journal entry describes the yoga practice as “a gentle and painful attempt to open up my body.” My muscles were achy and my joints so stiff that I felt 90 years old. My lungs and throat felt windy, my head heavy. The first sign of illness is a stiffening of the joints; I think it’s the body’s method of enforcing rest and shut-down so that maximum energy can be put to the immune system’s internal battle.
The most interesting observation of the flu week was my fluctuating lower back pain. For the first 2 days in bed the pain was excruciatingly agonising (I screamed every time I had to turn over in bed until I worked out how to override the urge).
Then it happened...at 2am on Day 3 I woke up to a wave of nausea and got out of bed to head for the toilet . Some time later I woke up again to find my head planted heavily on the floor. I’d passed out unconscious a few metres from the bed.
Later that morning I realised all my back pain had disappeared. “Praise the Lord…a healing miracle has occurred” (or so I thought at the time).
Although still very sick with the flu that day, my back was completely pain-free and super-mobile for the first time in 3 years.
Something had changed.
Four days spent gravely ill and confined to bed was as effective as a detox retreat.
This is what I wrote in my journal the following Tuesday, one week after the onset of flu:
“What a wonderful opportunity to start over with a clean slate. My body feels light and clean, apart from the respiratory infection that has clogged my upper plumbing.
After the first 2 days in bed my mind was still spinning work-stuff around in my head as fast as the final spin cycle in teh washing machine. Eventually my mind spun itself dry and stopped regurgitating the same old stuff. Day 3 was a revelation...I’d completely forgotten what a clear mind was like.
I really have to be vigilant to keep my head clean from now on.
Before the bout of flu I’d regularly try to meditate for half an hour before bed and end up giddy from the spinning whirl of thoughts. It was crazy in there, no space or opportunity to calm the mind at all – too out of control.
How did it get like that?
My mind has finally been purged of those obsessive thoughts about work that were playing over and over, compulsively, monotonously.
So I am grateful for the flu; this physical and mental spring clean was way overdue."
Apart from a residual thickness in my respiratory system, I’ve mostly recovered from the flu now but returning to a daily office environment has brought with it the return of lower back pain and stiffness - not half as bad as before the illness, but still it is a clear indication of where and how my body stores the accumulated poison of dis-ease.