On Health Problems

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For the last 3 years, I have been dealing with some frustrating health issues (that probably started way before then and that I won’t get into now). It’s not serious, but I don’t feel good and over time I believe it could affect my quality of life. In some ways, it already has.

I’ve spent thousands on health care practitioners, testing, and supplements not covered by insurance. I completely changed my diet. I’ve fasted. And I have been on a diet so restricted I couldn’t even eat lettuce, let alone try to eat out. I suddenly gained weight that I could not lose. And while some things have improved, most issues persisted.

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I felt betrayed by my body – like it was a stranger. I was also quite hard on myself. I did yoga all the time, meditated, ate healthy, and exercised. What was I doing wrong? To make matters worse, in the yoga world, I had come across philosophies that implied that health problems are personal deficiencies. Like my health issues are really a reflection of the state of my soul.

On the fence between continuing to search for solutions and accepting that I may not ever feel better, I purchased the book The Loving Diet by Jessica Flanigan. The Loving Diet does recommend specific foods. But more importantly, what Flanigan recommends is love.

She recommends a radical love: cooperating with your illness and loving your negative emotions. Avoiding “againstness” is key. Rather than trying hard and fighting your illness, you should work with your illness and even love it! It is better to simply show up and trust your life.

With this perspective, illness can be an opportunity – a way to wake up to something in your life. It is here to teach us, not to punish us. Time will tell, but I’m pretty sure my health issues are here to teach me to be more kind to myself (which is very different from trying really hard to do what I “should”).

I’m going to give it a try. What’s the harm? Doesn’t the world need more love, anyway?