What if disease were a doorway?
What if disease were a doorway instead of a defect, a dread, a disaster, a demerit point on the scoreboard of life? Because that’s how we tend to view disease: as something to be despondent about.
But what if instead, we decided to view disease as a doorway?
What would happen?
A doorway to what?
Firstly we’d want to know: a doorway to what?
Maybe disease could be a doorway to growth, truth, freedom, wisdom.
Maybe disease stimulates us to ask questions we wouldn’t otherwise ask. Questions that can transform not only our personal lives but change the course of humanity for the better.
Disease, illness and personal crises are common to all of us and they serve as doorways throughout our life journey. And it’s entirely up to us – each individual – whether we choose to walk through the doorway – into the unknown – or close the door and do what we can to stay ‘safe’; to try and hold things together as they are.
What does it mean to ‘walk through the doorway into the unknown’ versus ‘closing the door and staying on the side of the known’?
Walking through the doorway means working with our bodies and not against them. Working with life and not against life. Working in co-operation with nature and not against nature. Rest when you’re tired. Eat when you’re hungry. Cry when you’re sad. Pause and ask yourself: what are my deepest values and am I living in alignment with them? Why do we drive ourselves to breaking point? What are we sacrificing our health for? Is it worth it?
What is disease?
Doorway is an apt metaphor for disease but it isn’t a definition. What is disease really?
Since I’m a medical doctor I have a simple definition for disease: not feeling at ease with our current situation or circumstance. The meaning of disease is embedded in the word itself: dis-ease.
Disease or crisis is something I didn’t think I needed or wanted, and which is draining my energy or life force. And because a disease or crisis often imposes physical limitations on us – for instance, it might stop us from doing something we’d planned to do – we tend to label disease as a bad thing. Because it’s getting in the way of our plans.
But is dis-ease necessarily a bad thing or is it just a natural part of life? An opportunity to discover something new about ourselves, our lives and our planet? An opportunity to see that everything is interconnected?
What is healing?
Healing is a journey or process where we move from a state of decline in our life force and self-expression to a state of flourishing.
Healing doesn’t only relate to relieving physical illness but also to alleviating psychological and emotional suffering. Healing is also about re-igniting our zest and enthusiasm for life and work.
Healing means moving towards greater aliveness, freedom, peace and power in every sphere of our lives. Healing ourselves will also heal our planet.
What is the role of modern medicine?
I believe the role of modern medicine is to keep us alive long enough to enable us to heal.
Modern medicine can often cure the body but not necessarily heal the spirit.
When we walk through a doorway, we don’t always know where it’s going to lead. Walking through a doorway requires trust – trust in life itself. Trust that life wants to sustain life. That life is a constant movement towards balance and wholeness.
Disease isn’t a comfortable place. It can be a frightening place. But it can also be a comforting place. It can give us permission to finally listen to our needs. To stop and reflect. To decide what’s truly important. To live a more fulfilling and meaningful life.
I invite you to regard dis-ease as a doorway to a greater appreciation of life. A doorway to deeper connections with others. A doorway to discovery. A doorway to a healthier world – not just a healthier you. I don’t know exactly what you’ll discover. I only know you have to walk through the doorway to discover it.
I’ve encountered several daunting doorways along my life path. I shared my mother’s journey with lung cancer and now my father’s adventure with dementia. I’ve also been on my own healing trajectory which took me beyond my training as a medical doctor. I therefore speak and write from a personal as well as professional perspective to share with you how healing can happen.
Healing means different things to different people. Whether it’s curing a specific illness, having more energy, being able to forgive, lifting yourself out of depression, shedding excess body fat or feeling good in your own skin. It all starts with listening to your body, your heart and your soul (however you define ‘your soul’) and working with, not against, your deepest values and needs.