This last week I have been ill with the flu – a wonderful cornucopia of alternating symptoms – head ache, shivers, overheating, ear ache, sore throat & a chesty cough that prevents sleep – doubly amplified compared to my usual experience of such symptoms. I guess that’s the Australian element! I’ve even lost my appetite, which is very unusual.
I haven’t done any formal practice, but have stayed in touch with how my body feels – breathing in and out of particularly painful sensations. I have pleasantly distracted myself. At times when I have been too poorly to sit in the living room & watch a box set (Stranger Things on Netflix), I have laid in bed drowsing to my Harry Potter audio books – I’ve just started on book four!
For me, I have been very patient and have taken time off to rest. Thankfully Choden had taken over from me on the teaching skills retreat at Samye Ling this week and I am very grateful for this. I did have a marking deadline for the MSc, but everything else I have rescheduled.
My husband says I have been a bit grumpy and bad tempered. My brain is working so slowly and he talks so quickly that his conversation seems overwhelming at times.
What has helped me most is a sense of an overview – not getting caught up in thinking about being poorly, but simply allowing the symptoms to move through. I have been able to observe and not buy in to my usual patterns of thinking – that there is something wrong with me that I’m ill; that getting my work done this week is essential; and that I am letting the team down by being ill. Instead I am just observing it all with a relaxed sense of what will be will be.
So I have been able to enjoy the stillness of resting my body as it is working hard to defend itself from this virus. I have been able to relax my body when it tenses against pain. I have been more curious than distressed by the seemingly endless campaigns this virus is waging. So I think I could probably say that while I haven’t consistently enjoyed being ill – it’s not been too bad and ibuprofen helps when it all gets a bit too uncomfortable.
Practice is so important when things are going well, so that when we hit a rough patch the benefits of practice are available to us.
Also important is reflecting on our habitual patterns around being ill. Do we beat ourselves up and blame ourselves or do we relax and rest to give space for our bodies to recover. It’s all an opportunity for practice!
Hopefully, by the time you read this, I will be back in my usual routine, building resources for next time!
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