Your Illness is Your Greatest Teacher

“When you have insomnia, you're never really asleep, and you're never really awake. With insomnia, nothing's real. Everything is far away. Everything is a copy of a copy of a copy.” - Chuck Palahniuk

 

This past winter, I had insomnia….v bad. No matter how much I meditated, my mind was always racing. It wouldn’t let me sleep, so I was perpetually exhausted. In my exhaustion, I couldn’t exercise, practice yoga or cook myself meals. I even stopped being able to show up for my job as a career counselor and teacher. I was never asleep, but I was never really awake… I was dying and I didn’t even have the energy to resist it...

At my worst, I remember feeling like my mind and body had both turned on me, and we were no longer in a supportive relationship with one another. I was forced to realize I had way too many external things in my life to maintain balance, and what was being thrown the most off balance was my inner self. I had forgotten to pay attention to my spirit.

So I had no choice, but to just stop. Everything. And little by little, with each thing I released from my life, I began to heal.

My romantic relationship came to an end. I quit my full-time job in favor of teaching more yoga. I started spending more and more time alone, in restorative yoga poses, or reading about self-love. I started eating more warm, heavy, nourishing and grounding foods. I started doing things that made me feel good again, that had nothing to do with clients or partners. I traveled to Paris to see my best friend who had moved away. I saw a new place and it gifted me with new eyes, as traveling always magically does. And I continued to heal.

But the hardest part about working through all of this was coming to terms with the reality that even though I am a healer, I needed to be healed. And this time, no one else could heal me, but me. And isn’t this the gem at the heart of why we become healers to begin with? We must first, and continuously, work to heal ourselves. 

And through accepting this truth, I became a better yoga teacher. I learned how to create the remedy for my illness, to receive the medicine and to offer it to others. This is alchemy. This is collective healing. And this makes me so grateful for all of it.

Chiron, the Wounded Healer, is a comet that appears in our astrological birth charts. He shows up in the area of our lives where we can provide great help and insight, because that is where our own personal healing lies. He represents the archetype of the Shaman, the Heirophant in the Tarot - the one who is brave enough to continuously travel into the darkness just to find the Light. And we all have this inside of us.

It’s OK to not be OK. It is part of being alive. And until we believe that, we will continue to reject the pieces of ourselves that need the most healing. And we will continue to resist our own alchemical powers, our unique ability to transform pain into gold.