The diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis was bestowed upon me three years ago. I felt horrified and confused and desperate. I also felt alone; it was my problem, not a commonly experienced natural disaster. And everyone knows “there is no cure for MS.” For weeks I was frantic.
But I don’t like being told, “You can’t heal.” I looked deep inside and I promised myself, “I will walk well again. I don’t know how, but I trust that I will be guided.” I committed more deeply to my spiritual path than I ever had. Healing from a non-physical source offered my only hope.
I wrote in my journal. When I sat down, I didn’t know what I would write but, always, words spilled from my pen. I didn’t recognize these as “my own” thoughts but simply as words and thoughts moving through me. I respected the evolving activity of my inner world by assuming the stance of detached Observer. After thirty minutes of observing and recording, I rose, feeling cleansed and clearer.
I meditated twice daily. I watched old emotional wounds and mistaken beliefs resolve. I plugged into a flow my intellect couldn’t access and I allowed myself to be carried. I noticed events in my outer world which reflected my unspoken thoughts and wishes. Delight dotted my days. I felt lighter and, uncharacteristically, joyful.
Finally, I welcomed my diagnosis as an opportunity to form new habits.
Now I practice complete self-acceptance. I don’t need to impress anyone nor do I feel offended by another’s disregard.
I practice gratitude for whatever exists, regardless of my feelings. I don’t say, “I don’t like what happened.” I simply say “Thank you.” Being grateful for whatever is releases tension and hugely reduces stress. Really, what is a problem? I don’t get upset by what I can’t control and, usually, not by what I can, either. I practice forgiveness—for myself and for everyone else. I want to release burdens. I commit to being my own best friend, always on my own side. I expect gifts and I practice receiving my good. The more I practice, the more I receive.
And, most importantly, I practice surrender. I live close to my core, I see myself healed, and I trust a Wisdom greater than my mind’s.
My walking continues to improve. I’ve learned that my intellect with its best judgment can’t carry me to health. I know that at my center I am anchored in a reality incomprehensible to my mind, a reality that knows only health. Manifestations of physical health follow from my practices of good mental and spiritual health. Never do I disparage myself or anyone else. I don’t doubt that my good comes to me. I appreciate today and myself and whatever happens.
Receiving an unwanted diagnosis has helped me see more of reality than I had known previously. I feel more alive and more anchored in my experience. What a gift the diagnosis of MS has been.
Ruth Cherry, PhD is a clinical psychologist in private practice in San Luis Obispo, CA.
Her specialty is integrating psychological and spiritual dynamics.