Last week, I started reading “Living the Spiritual Principles of Health and Well-Being” by Drs. John-Roger and Paul Kaye soon to be released with book signings in Europe.
The book offers practical wisdom presented in several sections. One section that particularly fascinated me is “Causes and Cures of Disease.” Many illnesses have an underlying emotional disturbance causing them, and in my own experience, that has certainly been the case. I hasten to add that blaming an emotional response for an illness does not further health and well-being. Quite the reverse.
In the book, one of the causes attributed to disease is fear. Its cure is empathy. What if there were no real source of fear, although the feeling of fear is real enough? Your mind and emotions create the feeling of fear through imagining, for example, the worst possible outcome. You may be drawn to news items which focus on negative scenarios. News agencies make their profit through our attraction to drama and what a friend calls “awful-ization.” It is your thoughts about a situation that produce feelings of fear.
One of my most memorable experiences of fear was the first time I was in an earthquake, in Carpenteria, California. I was on my own in a fairly large house which we had rented for a few months. When the earthquake was happening and the house was rolling around (well constructed for earthquake conditions) I enjoyed the movement. I was in bed around 4:30 a.m. When the movement stopped and my mind started imagining what might have happened if … the walls had come down, glass had fallen all over me, I ripped in to my feet with broken glass and so forth, I felt really scared. I was more shaken by my thoughts about it than by the event itself.
The Law of Empathy is the fifth spiritual law. The first is Acceptance, followed by Cooperation, then Understanding and Enthusiasm. Spiritual laws, unlike the laws of the land, are those which guide and direct our loving. Spiritually, we are not punished for our sins or shortcomings. We are punished by them. That is to say, it is when we go off track, or are separated, from our loving nature that we tend to experience imbalance and dis-ease.
More often than not, we simply do not know what good might be right around the corner of any crisis. There are many who are viewing the current global disturbances as creative opportunities to effect solutions to the issues we are facing. This could well turn out to be the most creative and productive era of all human existence. No one person, or even inspired leader, is in direct control of what the future holds. Lack of control for many is scary.
I have noticed those who make gloomy pronouncements about the future want to seem right about their predictions, and in control somehow. It is tempting to buy into the awful-ization. Personal concerns such as: What if I fail? What if I lose all my friends? What if I never find another job? What if my husband/wife rejects me? Those feelings of fear can hold you back from engaging in life, and deriving fulfillment from getting on with what is right in front of you.
So where does empathy come in? Empathy is a form of understanding. Fear cannot abide in an environment where there is understanding. Understanding is being aware of the thoughts that have produced the feelings, and literally standing under or in support of the greater, loving spirit that is present. Empathy and compassion offer you the opportunity to be with those feelings as they are, without any criticism, shame or blame.
Empathy respects your inner strength or innate essence, to know and do what is true for you. In her recent article, Judith Johnson writes about The Power of Bearing Witness. It speaks to empathy in action.
The action may be as simple as holding a hand, listening, smiling, being at one with what is taking place without having to fix it. It takes a certain strength and love to do so. You are not in control. You are cooperating with the love present, in yourself and the other person. This love heals on many levels. You may look beyond what you see on the face of things to recognize something deeper going on, more real, more connected, more intimate, more safe. This vibrant safety I view as the human spirit.
In stressful times, you can extend empathy towards yourself with care, understanding and getting to know how your thoughts are disturbing you. Instead of being critical and condemning towards yourself with blame and judgments about how you think you should be, do or feel differently, you can accept yourself as you are, in that moment. The feelings will change.
Where fear isolates, empathy connects. When you have understanding, you can then use the energy of fear to get active, to do what needs to be completed, to see friends, write a letter, make a phone call, do something for the joy of it.
Instead of fear holding you back, you may find that fear translates into awe and inspiration. The essence of fear is love, awaiting awakening.
We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit.
Do you know someone who is skilled at offering empathy? How do you think empathy can assist the healing process? What are the most effective ways you know to express or receive empathy?