Even illness can help us see into our life’s purpose
by Dr. Stephen LaFay
We are on Earth for one reason only, and that is to grow into our purpose. And we grow best when we have balance and energy in the seven key areas of life: body, mind, spirit, family life, social life, vocation and finances. It’s a beautiful system. When we start getting momentum in any of these seven areas, we begin to experience what I call “Harmonic Health” – each facet supporting and illuminating the others, wellness spilling over from one to the next.
You know what it’s like when a great idea makes your body feel energetic. How financial stability helps facilitate a healthy home environment. How being in love can also help your social life. You also certainly know how heaviness in your thoughts and emotional burdens also reflect in your physical energy, posture and body language. And on from there to pull down other areas of your life.
This is the challenge of all this interconnectedness: It sounds great on the upside, but it also holds true with the downside.
So what about when an area isn’t going so well? What about when we experience pain in our body, job, relationships, etc.? Is that “just life”? Or is it actually a needed signal?
In its elegance, life is designed with the most efficient means of ensuring our growth – a balance of complementary opposites in the form of challenge and support. So like plants that need both sunshine and rain for optimal growth, we need a balance of seemingly good and seemingly bad, praise and reprimand, pleasure and pain, to grow and reach our potential. In fact, the universe is designed so lovingly and intelligently as to give us the feedback we need to learn and grow in love, wisdom and purpose, even in the form of ill health.
It doesn’t come automatically to view pain as beneficial, but if we think back, the pain reflex actually helped us as kids to learn to respect the heat of a stovetop. We grew a little in our understanding of how the world really works. It served us.
So in the case of bodily illness it’s worth asking if our physical state isn’t actually pressing its case for our focused time and attention. It might be something startling, as it was with the stovetop, but it can also be a gradually increasing warning buzzer. Unfortunately, too many people are focusing on muffling the alarm without looking deeper at the causes.
I see this a lot as a chiropractor. In 12 years of clinical practice, I’ve noticed that people aren’t only looking for relief from the physical stresses in their bodies, i.e. a sore back or kinked neck. They also want relief from the overall stress in their lives.
That kind of general stress is a result of living in ways that are out of alignment with our true beliefs, values and purpose. It’s like Harmonic Health in reverse – illness in some area starts to drain wellness from the others. So job stress takes a toll on family life, or bad attitudes stunt our social life. These things show up in the body as well.
So yes, we treat the physical, but the illness will only show up another way if we don’t pause to identify the misalignment in some other area(s) and re-align our thoughts, feelings and actions with our true purposes. Then the harmonics kick in and we return to being more energetic, resilient and satisfied. And stress-free.
Seen in this light, our physical, outer state of health reflects our inner state, and our struggle to integrate all of the aspects of our life.
We need to be open to the possibility that physical illness actually represents a message from an intricate and magnificent universe, communicated via the body, to wake us up to take another look at how we are living, and whether we are actually moving toward our potential and purpose. Could it be prompting us to grow in our love and wisdom in some way?
So the purpose of any healer is not to wave a magic wand, suppress symptoms and call that “the cure”. Although it seems radically counter-intuitive, symptoms that are felt as discomfort, pain and even disability carry messages to make changes in our life journey. The fact that illness is so prevalent in our society tells me that people in general are in this process of learning – they’re getting messages via their bodies as to whether we’re all getting closer, or veering further from, our collective path, our purpose as a community or culture.
So suppressing symptoms actually robs people of the direction and growth that they are being offered in a healing experience.
Rather, the role of a healer is to facilitate transformation in people and in the quality of the choices they are making in their lives – to help people be empowered in one or more of the seven dynamics of life. Hopefully in several of them.
To maximize our Harmonic Health and reach our highest potential we must transcend old beliefs and remodel our value systems in those areas: how we treat ourselves physically, mentally, spiritually, socially, in our families, in our work and in our finances. And how we treat others in those same areas.
This is an important principle, that illness is a wake-up call to our life’s purpose. If you have a loved one who is ill, then this will be valuable to you. If you are the one experiencing illness, this will be invaluable.
By stopping to consider what the meaning of your discomfort or sickness is, you’ve already begun the process of healing and moving back into Harmonic Health and ultimately your life’s purpose.