Jesus's admonition to "love your neighbor as yourself" not only applies to the people around us but to any thing close to us.
What about illness? Dis-ease? Afflictions? Are these not our closest neighbors at times? As much as we try to eat healthy and try to maintain ourselves through exercise, sometimes the immune system breaks down and is overcome by bacterial or viral invaders. When illness becomes our closest neighbor, it is closer than any family member or friend.
So, how does one treat illness as a neighbor?
In the Orient, the body is viewed as a finely balanced unity of interdependent parts. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Our body is a living entity made of mind, body, and spirit. There is no separation; all three are one. Each part blends harmoniously with the rest of the body. When one part is out of alignment, the rest of the parts do not function as optimally as they should. What can be done to get back into alignment?
We can take a spiritual attitude toward illness. When we do, we make friends with it. Instead of becoming adversarial toward it, treat it as a part of your being. Seek to cooperate with it. Pain is the body's way of telling us that it needs love and attention to become whole again so that it can work harmoniously with the rest of the body. If we hate it, it will hate us back, bringing more pain and suffering. Many times, working with an illness rather than against it leads us to a change of heart. We begin to see it as a messenger rather than an enemy that has come calling about some kind of imbalance that needs to be integrated back into our lives. Integrating it means accepting it and approaching it with a loving attitude. Since the body, mind, and spirit harmonize as one, illnesses can lead us to discover that most of the causes stem from some kind of emotional upset, imbalance, or trauma.
For example, maybe you contracted (attracted) a sore throat. Instead of hating it, try visualizing light around your throat area. Tell your throat you are grateful for its function in your body. It allows air to pass through to your lungs. It allows food to travel into your stomach. It allows you to communicate. Tell your throat you love it and see it in your mind's eye as healthy instead of inflamed. Thank your throat for its message and tell it that it's time for the soreness to go to the light for healing and transformation. Note any "messages" that you may hear. Since the throat represents communication, maybe there is something that you need to express but haven't, either to yourself or to someone else. Illnesses allow us to reflect on our lives. When we are honest in our reflection, we find the emotional cause behind the illness and the emotional healing that comes. As we release it in love, healing will occur much more quickly than if we continually focus on the pain.
Does this mean not to go to the doctor? No. Sometimes a doctor's advice and medication are needed. And we have the choice to participate in our own healing, or not.
Illness is a powerful teacher. Nothing gets our attention quite like it. As we cooperate with it and work on integrating balance back into our lives lovingly, we take control of the healing process in a powerful way.