We can live with hope, and avoid despair, if we learn to surrender our attachment to what we think our health outcome should be, and instead be present to the healing journey as it unfolds – Joanna Garritano
I had a long conversation about health with someone yesterday. He had health issues and I told him of my journey, the short version, but it did include the bit about my diagnosis results and the prognosis handed to me by the consultant in a London Hospital. I go into detail about this encounter in my book http://a.co/duWS3Lu but suffice to say it was a pivotal moment in my journey.
For your benefit, this is a short description. The consultant was aloof and, dare I say it, arrogant. That was my feeling, subjectively of course. He sat in front of me and said 3 things.
1. What you have (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) is incurable.
2. You will be on medication for life.
3. You may well have to have some, or all, of your colon removed.
When I questioned him he added a 4th blow.
4. There was nothing you can do, no diet would help, no natural medicine would work, nothing.
Honestly, it makes my blood boil right now just thinking about it.
It makes my blood boil because he was WRONG, and because many people who are not as feisty, rebellious, or informed, as I am (and was even then), may well believe him, throw themselves into his hands and GIVE UP ALL HOPE.
That makes me furious. Because I seriously don’t believe it to be true. And I am living proof of it.
12 years since that diagnosis and prognosis and I never took ANY medication for it. I have NO SYMPTOMS of IBD at all, no ulcerations, no blood, no mucus, and when I’m tested there are no signs of inflammation. So, as we like to say these days.
Sorry to be dramatic and animated but I think you can understand how it feels to me.
I could have had my colon removed, for no good reason. I could have started taking steroids, anti inflammatories etc etc and been dependent on them for the rest of my life..And so on. It could have been the end of me. As it turns out it was actually the beginning of a long and deeply transformative journey.
When I reflected on this experience I realized why I was so angry. Because what was at stake here was HOPE.
Hope is a fundamental part of healing. Its not some by-product, some throwaway part of the human condition. It is an integral part of us.
I don’t think you can heal without hope. Hope creates an energy that drives or pulls us forward. If you take hope away you don’t, in the case of illness, create acceptance, you create resignation and despair. You cannot heal or transform if resignation or despair are the dominant energies in your system. We are not mechanical robots, we are subtle, complex, mysterious life forms that have unique and powerful abilities to change things simply through the power of our beliefs, our attention, and our consciousness itself.
We are not mechanical robots, we are subtle, complex, mysterious life forms that have unique and powerful abilities to change things simply through the power of our beliefs, our attention, and our consciousness itself.
Whatever positive feelings and emotions you can muster in the face of illness are welcome. Be they joy, laughter, hope, love, or peace, they all help by flooding the body with helpful and healing hormones that uplift the whole organism and give it life force.
Conversely whatever negative feelings or emotions flood the body, the opposite may well happen. they depress and downgrade us. They slow things down, they deflate us and allow for negativity to flood the body.
If you sit for a moment and consider this, feel the energy of joy, love and laughter and how they FEEL in your body, and then you consciously consider despair or resignation and how it feels in the body you would have to agree with me. They are very different. So hope is a valuable part of the healing process.
BUT BE CAUTIOUS. Remember the words at the start of this blog.
“We can live with hope, and avoid despair, if we learn to surrender our attachment to what we think our health outcome should be, and instead be present to the healing journey as it unfolds.”
Surrendering attachment to the way we THINK it should look, or the way we want it to look, is so important. I really got this key point somewhere down the path. I actually had a profound moment during a very dark period when I fell into despair. I was tormented and suffering physically, I had no idea what was going to happen and I was at the end of my tether. I walked into some local woods by myself and lay down among the leaves and fell into what felt like a deep well. I desperately wanted an end to my suffering, mainly from my emotional and mental suffering.
I then found myself speaking to God…whatever that means..And I said, “God, I no longer care whether you take my physical body or not, I hand that over to you, but I want love in my heart, and I want an end to my trauma, to my anger and to my emotional pain. I want some peace.”
It was as though I had realized that, although ultimately I had no power over whether my physical body would heal or not, I DID have power to decide whether to let go of my emotional baggage once and for all, willingly.
And something happened that day, and it has always been with me. What happened was, by just being willing to die but keeping my heart open, I surrendered attachment to outcome. That’s the quote at the top of this blog. To live with hope but surrender attachment to the outcome we think we want. I did that, and it created FREEDOM for me. It released so much healing energy in me it really contributed to my long term recovery and subsequent health.
The truth is, when we get ill, or even when we don’t get ill, we don’t know whether we will live longer or shorter time, or whether we will recover or not. But we can fix our broken hearts, our resentments and grievances, and we can do that now, and now and now.
Hope, in this context, is a beautiful energy, a powerful energy, and thus a healing one.
If anyone tries to steal your hope away and can’t replace it with something better, turn away and run. Don’t believe them. While you are alive there is some hope.
When its chronic illness and not acute, there is hope.
When you, or they, don’t really know what it is, there is hope.
Act on that hope without fixed attachment to how it should look, and bring all your vibrant intelligence, wisdom and power to take whatever action ‘feels’ right.
Choose ‘hope without attachment,’ over ‘resignation without any power.’
Thanks for reading!