Surrender to chronic illness
I have been thinking about surrendering in general, but also a surrender to chronic illness. For those of us with chronic health issues, accepting and surrendering to the realities of our lives is a crucial step forward. On diagnosis, many will go through periods of grief and anger, defiance and depression. In the past, the Kübler-Ross model suggested five stages of grief, which were denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. However, this model, although helpful, has less significance now as we realise that grief is not linear. It can’t be encapsulated by a timeline. It is organic and we jump from stage to stage, emotion to emotion at any time. Emotions are feelings “in motion” and the best way to process them is to keep them moving. It is when emotions become trapped or stuck in our energy bodies that we start to run into more physical and emotional problems.
Resistance to a situation creates more rigidity and stress. I am learning this through parenting my boys! So it is best if we can come to some state of acceptance and surrender to the situation.
How can we surrender to chronic illness and the consequences?
I would like to divide this into four areas related to the different levels of our being: Physical, Mental, emotional and Spiritual.
This means rest, rest, rest, (let go of the guilt), and rest some more. I personally find this really difficult. I often want to fill every moment that I can, catching up with everything that I have missed. This is very counterproductive. Letting go into resting is vital for people with chronic health issues. Even taking a catnap where you don’t fully fall asleep counts. When you doze, you allow your brainwaves to come down into an alpha or theta state where your sodium potassium pumps can be rebalanced and cellular renewal can take place. This means you wake up feeling much more refreshed than you would expect.
- Restorative Yoga,
- Floatation tanks
- Having a self-care day where you rest, journal, watch movies and meditate.
When you are in a state of anxiety and mental tension, you are producing stress hormones which are affecting your body adversely. It is so important to let go of the “what if’s”, and blaming yourself or others for your health situation. It just takes you into the past which has already happened and cannot be changed. Focus on the present and what you can do today to help your mind be calm and clear. If you are finding this difficult Byron Katie’s The work
is a very helpful method of self-inquiry to help work through this. Of course, a meditation practice helps enormously with mental equanimity but even as little as 10 mins a day will be a positive start.
- Listening to calming high vibrational music.
- Walking in nature: The Japanese advocate “forest bathing” for health. It has now been shown scientifically that trees assist the human body in boosting immune response. The molecular interactions between certain tree species and human bodies trigger the production of Natural Killer (NK) cells in humans. NK cells are a type of white blood cell that attack virally infected cells and tumour growths. So go and sit under a tree and relax!
- Learning to stay with your own energy and not getting too involved in others business.
- Getting grounded which helps to reduce overstimulating mental activity.
If you can, have a really good cry! This is emotional letting go at it’s best! If you find it difficult to cry, sometimes watching a sentimental film can help you release those tears. The tears produced in high emotion actually have stress hormones in them and so that may be why you feel better once they are released. In Japan (again – they must be on to something!) it is possible to go to organised crying sessions. They show sad films to help the participants release emotions in an environment where they feel safe to do so. It is especially popular with men and is an interesting contrast to the Japanese culture of not showing emotions or anger, similar to the culture in the UK and Ireland.
Emotional surrender means identifying your challenging emotions and allowing them to be really felt and then expressed safely or released through an energy practice. Remember, “You are not your emotions”, they are just moving through you.
- Singing/ Sounding: Toning a long “AH” sound from the heart or even just sighing “AH” on an exhale is great for letting go of stress and anger. Try doing it for five minutes and notice the difference in how you feel.
- Self-compassion and self-love. Check out my post on self-care tips for ways to show yourself love.
- Remembering not to take things personally and realising that you don’t need to be approved of or liked by everyone.
- Let go of intensely researching cures and ways to get better for a while as it is very draining.
This is about trust. Trust and faith. Trust that the Universe/God/ “Power greater than yourself” has got your back. You don’t have to believe in God to surrender in a spiritual way. Surrender to whichever higher power you are comfortable with, it could be your intuition, for example. We can’t always understand why we have all these challenges and turns in the road. Surrender to that mystery and trust in it. Our souls are on a journey much more immense than we can fathom.
Ways to foster this are:
- Source meditation (spending time in meditation allowing energy to pour into your body from above through the crown of your head).
- Learning to communicate with your guides.
- Trusting and listening to your intuition.
- Being in gratitude.
- Make decisions from your heart , not your head.
- Practicing letting go of fear.