8 Ways Illness Can Be a Spiritual Practice

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Slow Down and Watch

"Healing happens in the slow lane," hospital chaplains tell patients. Think of life like film, 24 individual images moving rapidly in sequence to create the illusion of action. When illness makes you slow down, you have a rare opportunity to view each individual moment of your life on its own, and see how you unconsciously string moments together to create patterns of behavior. This new view gives you the chance to reorder moments into new and healthier patterns of behavior.

For instance, when I was bedridden for 3 months last year with pneumonia, I realized how I had grown used to being able to rush to rescue someone with a problem. I spent my precious energy on others and thus depleted myself, contributing to my illness. Weak from illness, I couldn't rush to anyone's aid and had to rescue myself. It felt healthy and I've since made it my practice to give others a chance to resolve their own issues, and fix my own first.