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Tag Archives: Illness

This is my 10th day of illness with the flu. I denied it at first, thought it might be a three-day cold that I could escape with vitamins, rest and fluids. I have not been ill in so long I can hardly remember….a year at least. The coughing continues, keeps me awake at night, challenges me to stay indoors – with myself.

I suppose I could consider that this has been a ten-day retreat – with many hours of silence, being alone, quieting my mind and stilling my body, watching snow fall outside the window – as if I could really do much else. I would make lemonade with this gift of alone silence, a very inexpensive retreat, a time to let go of imagined responsibilities and take care of the one person I could.

Most mornings I was able to do my meditation routine: journaling and Sunlight Qi Gong, facing east in the kitchen, knowing that the sun is there, behind the thick clouds.  I’m sure it is….a scientific fact, right?  Then prayer and meditation in the big black chair after reading a page of Ruth’s Time for Joy and a passage from Thay’s Understanding the Mind.

It is so comforting to have a morning practice of prayer and meditation, something I can do even when ill.  It restores my focus on living in this day, accepting the gifts life has to give me in this moment – a warm home, a loving husband, healthy happy children and grandchild, friends, the stark beauty of winter ice.  I am connected, at peace, hoping to be of service again soon.  My glass is always way more than half full.

“Breathing in, breathing out” is such a gift. The gift of LIFE. We start breathing oxygen immediately after birth or quickly die. The air becomes part of our body, nourishing our cells, expelling as carbon dioxide to nourish plants. Our breath is not just our own but links us to the great cycle of life in the universe.

We are usually not aware of the absence of pain in our bodies until we feel pain, then feel it leave. Thay talks about how wonderful it is to have a “non tooth ache,” to sense and feel gratitude for the absence of pain. Mindfulness helps us touch the seed of gratitude in our hearts – for our breath, our eyes, ears, brain, arms and legs functioning. No matter how sick we might be, if we can breathe, we know that we are alive. We can touch gratitude for life. Once we cannot breathe, we will probably not even know it.

I am most appreciative of my ability to breathe when it is difficult to breathe.
I started a cough Sunday evening in my meditation group that has deepened and led to bronchitis. Breathing is more difficult. As I tried to lie still and breathe my body back to sleep after a severe coughing spell during the night, I felt such a deep appreciation for my breath, for my life, for the absence of pain in my chest that will come when the illness leaves, for the pain today that reminds me of how precious my life is today. Today I rest, I breathe, I appreciate my warm bed, water, tea and the opportunity to nourish the seed of health in me.

My husband led me in a wonderful Qi Gong session this morning, helping me be aware of all the energy of the universe available to support my healing. As we meditated, with interruptions to cough and drink water, I smiled at my body, knowing that my easy breath will soon return. I will again forget this precious gift, breathing without effort. I will forget illness and pain, until the next reminder or the next conscious breath.

Are you breathing? In gratitude?