A Perspective on Breakdown and Illness

Much of what makes me effective as a Holistic Health Practitioner is my capacity to work from a place of grounded compassion.  Although my willingness to be a healer emerged naturally in early childhood, it has been life’s invitation to walk the rigorous path of lived-experience that has truly anchored and opened my heart, which I now understand is at the core, or at the heart, of all healing work.

Likely the most impactful shift of perspective I’ve come to acquire (and treasure) is my attitude towards breakdown and illness.  My personal experiences of illness, on the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual planes, inspired a complete 180° of my previous perspective.  Now, acknowledging the wisdom of equanimity, I can see that breakdowns and illnesses are symptoms of steep learning, growth and transformation; they are not wrong, they are not symptoms of failure.

Its important to note here, that perceiving them as belonging on our journey of becoming does not render them painless.  However, and quoting the Buddha here,”resistance is the source of all suffering”.  Thus by accepting breakdown and illness as normal symptoms of growth we can greatly relieve our useless suffering (pain + resistance = suffering, therefore no resistance=no suffering, but does not omit the pain).

Take the caterpillar for instance.  When transforming into a butterfly what happens behind the veil of the cocoon is anything but pretty, orderly or easeful.  There is mass cellular death, chaos and distress; there is much breakdown and disorder; and yet, without it there is no butterfly.  Breakdown is the SYMPTOM of emergence, of becoming and transformation.  Do we perceive the butterfly as failing or wrong as she painfully sheds her caterpillar-self in order to fly?  Obviously not, but with limited perspective it is possible that one could misdiagnose her process as an illness.  With great patience and trust in the mystery of our becoming (also at times called faith), we can eliminate useless suffering.  Suffering is the result of fear and resistance to change.  And fear generally results in us seeking unskilled and/or unhealthy resources to mend our painful experiences.  (as a side note, I’ve seen enough fear-mongering marketing to appreciate its ploys to misdirect and manipulate consumers…but that’s another blog post).

Faith aside, Learning theory, Systems theory, and Positive Psychology theories are all inviting us to broaden our approach and attitudes towards “breakdown”, so that we can find a more peaceful perspective, to support a greater, more holistic and accurate truth.  Choosing to experience our illnesses and breakdowns as signposts of our extensive growth and evolution, instead of failings, allows us to translate them into “good news”: we are becoming, transforming, and learning to fly!

As a Holistic Health Practitioner my aim is to provide broad perspective, deep compassion and skillful means to individuals as they move through experiences of transformation.  Though ultimately beautiful, the way home is often disorientating, fraught with pain, fear and confusion.  Connecting to an experienced therapist, spiritual mentor and/or healer can make all the difference in our process, and it is truly an act of response-ability and self-compassion to do so.  I feel blessed to recall the holistic therapists and open-minded allied health practitioners I had access to during my darkest hours.

We have everything we need to meet our life’s challenges, including our capacity to ask for help!  Asking for help is a most potent way to heal.  It is an act of self-compassion, which opens our hearts kindness towards ourselves.  It also invites others to open their hearts to help us, to support us on our journey to wholeness.  I do not presume to fully understand the mysteries of the transformational process; however, I am a conscious and loving pilgrim, willing, skilled and honored to walk alongside you: to support you as you heal and experience your vitality.


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