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Excerpt from  Chapter 9


“Establishing Healing Connections” 

 

"We are all angels with only one wing…we can fly only embracing each other."

                                                                               ~ Anonymous      
     
  
     Chronic illness can foster a sense of isolation. While everyone around us continues life as usual, we are left grappling with major disruptive changes. It's as if we were suddenly attacked by a large animal while everyone else eases down the road unharmed. Why are we the ones the beast picked out?

     Our isolation often increases because we don’t know how to cope with the accumulating stress that surrounds our illness. We may face strange and uncomfortable tests that could result in disturbing news. A scary symptom might suddenly appear, and doctors and other health personnel may seem remote and uncaring. Connections with friends and family can be disrupted by changes in our routines.

     Illness tends to make us more self-focused. It can increase our desire to retreat from the world, as if we need to gather our wagons in a circle for personal safety. If we have a tendency to feel alone, having an illness may cause us to disconnect even more from others. On the other hand, if we look primarily to others to be our safety net, we will find that no one can truly provide our security. Sometimes we retreat because of the painful gap between the caring and support we hoped to receive from family or friends, and what they are able to give to us.

     As always, though, there is a positive side. Our illness can shake us up enough to become more sensitive to healing connections we would formerly have been too busy to notice. This was the case with my friend Kate’s sister Gabriel, whose illness opened her to connecting with ten of Kate's friends who lived three thousand miles away. In Kate’s words:

     "When I found out that my sister Gabriel was diagnosed with breast cancer, I wanted to help her in any way I could. As she lives in Vermont and I live in New Mexico, there was the problem of distance. Also, I am a stay-at-home mom with three kids, which made it even more challenging to go help her in Vermont.

     I had recently been taught Reiki, a Japanese system that can allow a person to transmit healing energy from a distance to others. In some ways it is much like prayer. An idea came to me to ask my friends to send Reiki to my sister, and to place healing thoughts into small stones that we would send her as well.

     I took a small grapevine basket that looked like a bird’s nest, placed some special stones from my own collection in it, and passed it around to my friends. When I got the basket back, it was filled with more colorful stones and little messages of well-wishes. As I mailed it to my sister, I felt strongly the help and caring the basket contained.

     She loved receiving this package and was amazed that there were ten strangers who took time to do something so special for her. Gabriel told me that she kept the nest with the stones near, and would often hold one or rest with them at her side.

     When my sister had to go through some very scary tests, she kept telling herself, “I’m getting Reiki, I’m getting Reiki.” Just knowing people were sending her healing energy and good thoughts gave her support and comfort to endure it all."

 

 

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