Disease as a Symbol and Metaphor
by Bob Trowbridge, M.Div.
Did you ever consider that illness from colds to cancer is meaningful and that the illness is experienced within a life that is meaningful?
Illness has meaning in the same way that dreams have meaning. Like symbols in our dreams, our illnesses are messages from the psyche – the inner self – which can be interpreted and understood. Our illnesses are not really the problem – they are only a symbol or symptom of the problem. The root problem is always spiritual – an imbalance or distortion in our thinking, attitudes and feelings.
Every ache and pain in the body is a message to the mind. It’s a call for help. Something is out of balance.
Holistic medicine sees the individual as a mind-body system, not as a machine with parts. Illness is seen as a problem involving the whole individual, not just one part. All illnesses represent, at some level, a “dis-ease” of the soul, an imbalance of the body and spirit. The mind is the intermediary between the two. It is a given that the mind can make the body sick or well. If the mind makes the body sick, it does so for a reason.
Imagine your mind as a pipe. Divine energy is poured into one end of the pipe. Inside the pipe your mind modifies that energy. Pouring out the other end is the results of your thoughts and intentions. The Universe has a positive intent for us. Therefore, it takes a great deal of energy to make ourselves poor, unhappy or sick. Still, we are free to take divine energy and shape it as we will. Our ability to make ourselves unhappy or sick demonstrates how powerful we are.
A serious illness may be the result of many months or years of your thoughts. When you deny the power of your own thoughts, you confirm yourself as helpless.
An illness has been created in the body to give us information about the deeper, spiritual imbalance. The illness gives us an opportunity to make healing changes in our lives. Healing changes take courage – courage to act, to apply our insights and to make difficult healing choices.
Courage is the daughter of love. Fear is the opposite of love and courage. Love and courage are the antidotes of fear.
Illness can give us a chance to get back on a life affirming track. Illness presents challenges – all challenges have doors to a new way of being.
Death by illness. Sometimes illness is a way to leave this life. Living for many years is not a measure of a healthy or fulfilling life. Some people may simply complete their life work at an early age and it’s time to leave. The success of a life is not determined by how many years an individual lives, but by the quality of the life lived and how much love the life contained.
Being responsible for your illness is not the same as being blamed for your illness. Responsibility has to do with accountability. It’s empowering – you are at choice and can change.
We can change the body by dealing with how we feel. If we ignore our despair, the body receives a “die” message. If we deal with our pain and seek help, then the message is “living is difficult, but desirable,” and the immune system works to keep us alive.
This book is mainly directed to people who have chosen the physical body as their major life classroom. Where are you challenged? Where do you handle things well? Think of understanding illness as a detective story, a holy quest or a deep initiation into the mysteries. Be open to finding the hidden reason behind your illness. Look at any illness as a puzzle to be solved. No anger at yourself or at your illness.
The first question is: “Do you want to be healed?” Often illnesses serve us in some way – protecting us from success or failure or the unknown. Or, we receive something from the illness – love, attention.
A serious illness can teach us to live each day more fully. Spiritual growth is an ongoing process with no final destination. It’s important to love and appreciate ourselves in all circumstances.
This book is a life journey into the self – a healing journey.
I have given a high level overview of the main theories in this book. Most of the book is very detailed giving ways to assess illnesses and to heal them – all based on the mind-body model and illness as a spiritual journey.