By Suma Varughese May 2013 A physical ailment is offering Suma Varughese a spectrum of lessons to learn and rewards to reap Suma Varughese is a thinker, writer, seeker, latentcrusader and Editor-in-Chief of Life Positive.Write to her at email@example.com Now that my karma with my mother has ended (after she passed away last February), my karma with my body has begun. Food has been a major weakness and I have not been careful about what I ate, when I ate or in what quantity I ate. I have probably trespassed against every rule in the nutritionist’s book, so the time to pay up is now upon me. I have been diagnosed with a bad case of irritable bowel syndrome. This may not seem very formidable, but as my ayurvedic doctor mentioned, it poses one of the biggest challenges for a vaidya. Its treatment is intricate and delicate, and the patient is very prone to falling into the pit of the illness just as soon as she feels she has made some headway, for any indulgence causes the illness to recur and that particular treatment to become ineffective. I have already made my way through two different types of ayurvedic treatments, naturopathy, acupressure and wheatgrass. Homoepathy stands waiting in the wings and I am also planning to try allopathy. Each time one treatment is rendered ineffective I go through a period of fear, worry and even hopelessness, until I find one more raft to clamber on to, although I am acutely aware that this raft too is fragile and may come apart any time, setting me at sea once again. What strengthens me is the knowledge that this situation has much to teach me and that it will go away only when I have learnt my lessons. Perhaps the first and most vital lesson is to eat wisely. I am learning through these difficult months to refrain from eating in between meals, or when not hungry, to never overeat, to eat slowly, to masticate my food, to eat without distraction and to give thanks. What strengthens me is the knowledge that this situation has much to teach me. Above all, I am learning to refrain from eating food unsuitable to my digestive system. In this I am still a work in progress, but it is here that another lesson is given me to learn. And that is to forgive myself for my errors, even when these errors mean that my hardwon gains have disappeared and the illness dips to a new low. Slowly, there is a new found compassion for me, a new found tenderness and acceptance. I had long thought this was the lesson to learn but as the months progressed I discovered that this illness is here to give me far more profound gains. Since irritable bowel syndrome strikes those who have a tendency to worry, fear and be anxious, I am being called to vacate my mind. Obviously this is a biggie, but over the last few months, it is becoming more and more evident to me that in the final analysis, my thoughts, feelings and physical sensations are irrelevant and that who I am is really the whole and perfect self. Even though I still largely identify with my thoughts and feelings, there are snatches of time when I can experience the immense peace and stillness of being out of my mind. Hopefully, over time, these intervals will become significant enough to reduce my fear-consciousness, and help me move naturally into courage, acceptance and peace. Perhaps even closer to the bone, and for me the most difficult of all, is the question I am wrestling with at the moment. Can I unconditionally embrace life even under these trying circumstances? I confess I have not reached a space where I can say yes, but I trust that it too will soon be revealed to me. And that is enough to keep me going.
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