Yet another revisited topic:
For me, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) has come with many genuine gifts.
Of course, it’s important to acknowledge all the challenges that come with it. CFS and any chronic condition can bring up grief, anger, struggle, threatened identities, and unresolved issues. And it can lead to loss of work, relationships, money, status, and so on.
But we also have to acknowledge the genuine gifts that can come with CFS to get a fuller picture. These are gifts we may intentionally notice, explore, and even pursue (at least in periods where we have some energy besides what’s needed for basic daily tasks).
Here are some I have found for myself:
It has helped me with my spiritual practice.
From putting effort into my practice, I have found ways that are far less effortful. For instance, even when I did Shikantaza practice (“just sitting”), I put more effort into it than I needed. Now, I am happy to just notice, allow, and rest with what’s here. And that’s a more genuine way of doing this most basic meditation or noticing practice.
Also, since I have been more raw in periods, due to the CFS, I have been able to notice, meet, and inquire into unloved and unexamined parts of me that previously didn’t come as much to the surface.
Earlier, even if I saw all as Spirit, at a more visceral level I tended to associate Spirit – or at least awakening – with certain feelings and states (even if I knew that wasn’t the case). Now, I am able to more viscerally experience what’s here as Spirit including what’s challenging and uncomfortable. (This is still a process, I imagine it will continue to deepen.)
I have explored and delved into a range of new (to me) practices. I have to admit that this has been my tendency my whole adult life, so I probably would have done that anyway. Although the sense of urgency has perhaps been a bit stronger because of the health-related challenges.
It has given me time. And I have used this time to: Rest. Spend time in nature. Explore and investigate the topics I write about here. Explore and investigate other things in life that I tend to not write about or write less about. (Since I want to keep this blog somewhat focused.) Find deeper healing for my relationships with the world, others, myself, and my life.
It has come with an invitation to drop facades and be more honest with myself and others.
I have learned something about how it is to face challenges in life. In my twenties, I often had the thought that life was too easy. Now, I know something about going through challenging periods of life.
I have learned about a range of new (again, to me) approaches to healing, including some I may have been less interested in otherwise. For instance, herbal medicine, therapeutic tremoring (TRE), and Vortex Healing.
I have found a deeper appreciation for the simple things in life: a cup of tea, resting, friends, family, nature. I always appreciated these, but it’s different now.
I have found a way to often be genuinely content, and with a deep appreciation and gratitude for my life as it is.
Of course, it’s not all a dance on roses. There are still daily challenges. I sometimes get frustrated when my body doesn’t play along as I think it should (most recently today). I sometimes get annoyed and sad when I consider the many losses connected to health challenges. I sometimes get angry when things are not as my mind thinks they should be. I still sometimes have fear or concerns about the future. I sometimes feel embarrassed when I consider how others may see me. I have small flashes of envy when I see someone living the life I did or thought I would at this time in my life. But all of these experiences are part of being human. They are here to protect me, and they come from deep care for me. And they do happen within and as what I am. And there is often deep gratitude for my life as it is, including all the challenges.