Hey beefriends, I hope y'all are having a good day today. It's time for another edition of "Phoenix rambles on about stuff," so strap in! ;)
This month's Spirituality Challenge invited us to pontificate on how spirituality effects our healing process. For me, spirituality has helped me deal with some chronic illness and mental health issues in a way that no other medicine could. Ibuprofen, a heating pad, and arnica salve may dull physical pain, but they don't do anything about the emotional and spiritual toll, or physical exhaustion, of living with pain on a regular basis. The dentist can remove the tooth that is broken, but cannot relieve the self-consciousness you feel when someone stares at you for missing teeth and makes assumptions about you. The therapist can talk to you about your depression, but can't ease your soul when you are awake in the middle of the night wondering what the point of life is. Without a spiritual life, focused only on your body, these and other ailments would seem much bigger and harder to escape. In my belief, there is much more to "me" than this body; much more than this life; if I didn't have that belief and thought that this was all there was, it would be even harder to deal with. If this was my only existence, and it was just difficult and painful and miserable all the way through with little relief, I wouldn't be wondering what the point of it all was, I'd be saying, "fuck this shit, I'm out." Because why exist only to suffer?
Because you KNOW I love to pair me some dark suicidal thoughts with humor, I was going to plop the video for "Fuck This Shit I'm Out" here. But YouTube won't display it because it's age restricted, and PeakD makes it the cover image even though I chose a different cover image unless I nest it in a hyperlink, soooooooooooo - click on the blue if you want the song stuck in your head like it is mine. ;)
Now I am a big believer in science. Science has done some great things. Science has discovered and invented many fine cures and treatments, surgeries that save lives, antibiotics to cure infections, etc. I'm not saying that that element in healing isn't important at all. I'm just saying that there are people who try and act like that is all you need, and I wholly disagree with that idea. It's hard enough to get through the day when I'm struggling, and I believe that there must be a reason, a purpose, a meaning to life, even if I don't know what it is.
When I am deep in the anhedonia (the inability to feel pleasure), and struggling just to get through the day, one of my coping mechanisms is to pull up a video on YouTube about Near Death Experiences. That sounds a little morbid, perhaps, but it gives me hope. So many people from so many walks of life experiencing what is almost always a positive, love-filled, life-changing experience, where despite what differences in their stories there may be, they pretty much always come back with a feeling about how it's all about love, and how everything makes sense on the other side? Yeah, that's hopeful to me, because it tells me that even if I don't understand it now, I will someday, and even if I think I'm failing by society's standards of wealth, fame, whatever, I can do my best to be loving and kind no matter my other circumstances, and that's what really counts. I don't know if life is a "test" as some people believe; I don't know if it's a "school" as some others think. I often think that it's cruel that we can ask those questions and not get the answers while we are still in body. But, I do think that there is a purpose, even if from my embodied perspective I can't see it. And on my worst days, that's often what keeps me going.
Life is very short, really, though it feels long on dark and painful nights. I've tried all sorts of practices to heal and to cope, and don't have any one that I swear by; I just continue to seek out and learn, and hopefully, stock my toolbox with things that work for me. Maybe one day what helps me is meditation; maybe another day it's yoga; maybe on a different day it's snuggling one of my cats while listening to a YouTube video because that's all I can do just then. For me, it's less about following any one system or modality, because no one practice is a cure-all for everything. I credit EFT with helping to tone down my bug phobia (it's not completely gone, but it's way less than it used to be); I credit changing my diet with relieving a pile of symptoms that I would have never thought were allergies until they went away after I started avoiding my allergens. Doing rituals at my home altar helps to soothe my spirit and ease my depression. I do energy work that removes blocks from my system I've long struggled with; aromatherapy can help give me a little boost. All of these things feel sacred to me. All of these things help me to get through the struggle that is life and hopefully grow and heal.
I believe in a holistic view when it comes to health and wellness. Especially since different cultures in different time periods have all had their own ideas about such things, it's a little difficult to take seriously those who imagine that our culture is the pinnacle of understanding, as if they didn't feel the same 100 years ago and now we look back and think, "wow, how barbaric." 500 years ago? 2000 years ago? There are some things that each culture does well, and others where it falls short. No one culture or time has been 100% right and knowledgeable about everything. Neither is ours. So I remain open to discovering and learning from different traditions and knowledge bases.
I know she's not always around the beehive, but I invite @yogajill to participate in this challenge, as I'm sure she has lots of insight into the healing process to share! :)