By Purnima Coontoor
Purnima Coontoor profiles three bravehearts whose tryst with illness expanded their consciousness, and compelled them to serve others in pain
|Devieka Bhojwani, right, helping raise cancer consciouness|
It’s genetic,” said the allopath. “It’s a vaata dosha,” declared the ayurvedacharya. “Imbalance in body salts,” pronounced the homeopath. “It’s psychosomatic,” opined other healers. “It’s karma,” said spiritualists.
And thus I was stuck with the immune-deficiency disorder called rheumatoid arthritis last May – a severely crippling condition that can wreak pain on all the joints in the body. It crept upon me unawares as a swelling in the ankle, and spread to the entire body until every joint was affected with inflammation – including the jawbone, I was appalled to discover! My motor functions failed to execute even simple jobs, like unscrewing the toothpaste cap, leaving me dependent on others to go about basic chores. I had no time to think or lament though; tackling one moment at a time consumed all my attention and energy. Life slowed down drastically, forcing me to practice awareness. I had to avoid jerky and unconscious movements to avoid pain. Nothing like illness to knock one back from unconscious complacency!
I lay awake night after night, defenses completely down, listening to my aching bones tell an exaggerated story… of every negative thought, word and action that I had ever indulged in during my lifetime. Ashamed, I mentally begged forgiveness from those I had wronged and forgave all those who had wronged me…A cathartic, elevating experience.
As my husband massaged my joints with medicated oil one morning, I said tearfully, “I’m so sorry to put you through this. How can I ever repay this debt?” God forbid that he should fall sick for that sake… but what he said jerked me out of my sense of helplessness: “I’m not serving you, I’m serving myself. What debt are you talking about?”
It’s so simple really. There is no ‘other’… just one Universal Spirit in different manifestations. If the server and the served are one, whom to thank, from whom to expect gratitude? What to covet, what to reject? It’s just me, playing various roles in my own life simultaneously! I
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