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Natural Awakenings San Diego

The Healing I Took Birth For

Mar 29, 2012 10:46AM ● By Ondrea Levine

It seems that one of my greatest teachers or teachings came from the times in my life when illness came upon me.

I think the most outstanding insights of our years working with illness and grief in ourselves and others was the power love has to bring harmony to a place of imbalance, be it the softening of the contractions around nerve centers that often generate so much pain, or the opening/increase of the blood flow that allows greater access to the immune system to areas where our natural, and often amazing, potential for the heart/mind to heal the body.

Learning to send love into mental imbalances and afflictive emotions such as fear, doubt and self-judgment which tend to defend illness rather than offering healing. Directing mercy and even forgiveness into our long conditioned self-rejection turns the tables on the conviction we deserve to suffer. How very unkind we can be to ourselves—love in action brings confidence in our capacity to work with areas we have long since withdrawn from.

Pain, met by mercy, breeds compassion. Pain, met by fear causing us to pull back from our responsibility, creates a pity that leaves us broken and haggard by the side of the road. As much as it may seem “anti-intuitive” we have seen many send loving kindness into their tumors and find their illness so much easier to live with.

Love connects us to our healing. Pity reinforces our duality, our sense of hopelessness and helplessness, separating us from the heart of the matter, weakening the body’s trust in healing.

The gift in the wound that illness seems to provide for many is to remind the heart to move toward difficulties rather than turn away from them.

It has been a lifelong teaching. I began at ten, with scarlet fever, and a year later was confronted with a rheumatic heart. Also a profoundly scrambled composite of what we came to call a “dervishing dyslexia” both in reading and, less recognized by many, a tumbling of speech and hearing as well which resulted in a “social dyslexia” as well. It was a laundry list of attention twisting symptoms. Also in the mix of what Stephen called my “initiation” there was included cancer in my 20’s and again at 59, and diagnosis of pancreatitis, lupus, a severe unending Meniere’s disease ringing tinnitus, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. All had their chance at the lectern. But when love arrives we build the capacity to listen to ourselves with a merciful ear, to turn to ourselves as we would to our only child, to take our own hand, so to speak, and commit ourselves wholeheartedly to use all we have to support our healing. Love stills our tendency to hide in fear.

Oddly enough, each imbalance in the body, has just given more strength to my heart. Life is a balancing act, from which we fall, from high wire to high wire, from tight rope to tight rope, as we learn the art and spirit needed to regain our momentum, to practice the art that corrects our imbalances. And eventually find the grace to live harmoniously.


Excerpt from the forthcoming book The Healing I Took Birth For (available April, 2012). Copyright 2012 by Ondrea and Stephen Levine. Reprinted by arrangement with Aperion Books, Vista, CA.

Stephen and Ondrea Levine have combined the compassion of Buddhist teachings with modern psychology, developing original methods to help people deal with death and dying. They draw from the teachings of a variety of wisdom traditions, including Native American, Sufism, mystical Christianity, and Theravada Buddhism. Although they have not actively participated in public talks for many years, they will be speaking (via broadband), at the upcoming Inner Directions Gathering being held this month in La Jolla.