Here's something that is very, very useful to get to grips with and see with our own eyes (well, minds eye). It goes something like this:
Although we experience physical illness and are limited by it, 99% of the suffering associated with the illness is caused by the reactive mind.
This is something that is highlighted by doing a mindfulness based stress reduction course or by spending some time studying Buddhist practises. It may seem a little far fetched until you see it in action:
- we feel exhausted,
- it's not very nice,
- our mind starts up with judgements, anxiety, aversion and a whole set of reactive thinking,
- we feel even worse, to put it mildly
- we go into a downwards spiral of thoughts, unpleasantness, and more thoughts
- we feel helpless, we can't fix it
- we believe the thoughts and the negative situation seems wholly convincing
- and so on
This reactivity seems to be a feature of our minds and it would be ambitious to try and stop it doing this all time, but if we can see it happening during a difficult spell then it is possible to make room around it, thus lessening the reactive stress. Even this might seem impossible, but if we persist then we get a glimpse of our extraordinarily powerful minds in action. A glimpse becomes an eyeful, an eyeful becomes a mindful, and a mindful has quite large capacity for instigating faith that we can adapt to this thing called illness.