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“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires.”   ~Dr. Clarissa Pinkole Estes

I have been thinking so much about the signs of our times. As one who has always been interested in a symbolic and aerial perspective, I find myself looking for meaning and precision about the state of our country and the state of the world. Is there some meaning to be gained from all of what is happening? Have we arrived at a place where we can finally see how harmful our ways of living have become and why we need to reset our values and patterns of living?  Are we in fact living out of the koan of the ‘illness we need for our healing?’  All illness always has embedded in it the medicine for its cure.  We just need to look deep enough to find it.  It’s always there.  Every illness is a call to connect with our soul and to find meaning in our suffering.  It’s the way it has always been on Earth from time immemorial.

As a physician, I am always looking for the bigger picture and an aerial view to uncover what my patient’s illness means for them. This context always assists their understanding of its symbolic meaning and purpose.  The body is inherently equipped with the capacity to heal. We are all born with this capacity. Our body is an autoregulatory system whose ability to heal depends on the environment we create for it.  We have learned from the field of epigenetics that genes can be activated and de-activated depending on the environment we subject them to.  The food we eat has a huge impact on genetic activation, disease progression as well as reversal.  We also know that prayer has the power to heal and working on our emotional health also impacts our ability to heal.  We consider disease reversal a miracle, but it is in fact what our body is equipped to do.  We know that depression sabotages our capacity to heal and seeking meaning evokes this ability. I believe the body often manifests illness to detoxify us, to reset and recalibrate our modus for living. Many spiritual traditions in fact, see disease as a catalyst for awakening, where it can alter our perceptions and deepen our experience of life, urging us to live more fully from our hearts. In this capacity, disease and illness can be viewed as catalysts for purification.

Many of my patients who have suffered life threatening diseases have been transformed by them. The experience evoked the seeker within.  When they viewed their disease as a portal for transformation, they transcended society’s fear based and sentimental perspective. It facilitated access to inner wisdom, where they found a new and more illuminated way to live.

Illness provides a paradoxical journey into healing, but one that requires us to stretch our perspective with consciousness, beyond what we are taught by our culture, and especially our medical system.

From this perspective, illness can be seen as a stage in our journey to wholeness. I see our country currently in a quagmire during this Pandemic. I see us as suffering from an illness of our collective soul.

I invite us to see this time from an aerial view — as a symbolic moment in a larger process. We can use our experience of the Pandemic to move deeper into what we need for our healing and transformation.  Becoming healthy at all levels is what we are called to do.  We must dispel our lethargy and resistance against our need for change and learn how to take care of ourselves, and also one another.  We must create an environment needed to evoke our healing. We must seek alignment by behaving with integrity and consciousness.  We must make conscious choices to restore our moral compass and behave once again with kindness towards one another.

When we choose to live in this way, we align with our Soul. We can become the light in the darkness that Dr. Estes writes about. When we live this way, we inspire others to as well.  This can become our new norm if more of us made conscious choices.  Maybe our eventual healing lies in finding the meaning of this ill time, so we can seize this opportunity to transform ourselves into a world we have always longed for.


©March2022/February2022/September2018/March2017 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director, The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine, Pewaukee, WI.   Author of Becoming Real: Reclaiming Your Health in Midlife (2nd Edition), Medial Press, 2014. Dr. Kumar is currently accepting new patients. Call 262.695.5311 for an appointment, either virtual or in-person for those free of symptoms.


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Evidence Based Integrative Medicine