IF I remember correctly, it was back in the seventies that a spiritual/philosophical/physical practice had become quite popular. It was called "Rebirthing." It was a technique that was supposed to make you experience the vicissitudes of your own birth again through specific breathing exercises, in order to free you from the trauma created at the time and which later influenced the development of your life. This was done with the aim of helping you detect problems that, stemming from the very early moments of your life, might have remained stuck in your unconscious, thus preventing you from progressing in a significant way.
The ancient saying, “You must die in order to be born again,” has a similar meaning. Mainly through suffering can you find a new way of being, of perceiving and accepting life. I was brought to think about such issue during a recent seasonal illness. Did you experience a period of time when you felt your life was no life at all? You were sick, maybe you had a fever or kept coughing day and night, you may have suffered from back-ache or insomnia, therefore you were unable to behave as usual. All of a sudden you become aware of the simple activities that you are used to carrying out every day without ever giving them a second thought. You now miss them and realize that your life, without them, is no life at all.
You see yourself cut off from actually being a member of society simply because you are unable to "function". Not only: you also feel that all you can do — all you are actually doing — is thinking about yourself, moping, complaining, experiencing the "suffering" as a nightmare. Nothing else seems to exist beyond the dreadful way you are feeling. You are glad to receive the attention of those who love and care for you, but little can they do to relieve any of your pain. Pain is totally personal and no one can ease it for you, no matter how much they try. Being cared for gives you a wonderful sensation, but the journey through the tunnel of recovery must be traveled alone.
While you are ill you experience a sort of non-life because your activities are confined to being sick and… taking your medicine. Nothing else seems to matter. You also have the perception (and this is really scary!) that such situation might not improve, might remain the same and that you will never get better again. You know that this is not true. Yet, while you are in pain, while you can't breathe, while your stomach is aching or your head is throbbing, little hope is in your heart and in your guts, is there?
Then, slowly, you start feeling a bit better. You are afraid it might be just your imagination because... here is another bout of cough or the thermometer shows that your temperature is shooting up again. But then... you really start to feel better. You are not totally well, but you cannot deny that the worst seems to have passed, thank God!
You feel you are being reborn. You start looking around and taking an interest in what you see, you feel like reading the newspaper, watching TV, you enjoy talking to your family etc. Life is starting to be interesting again. The poor sick thing (you!) who could not participate in any activity is fading away. You are now well enough to detect the various stages you went through: Starting from the first signs of disease (a slight headache, or sore throat, or... or...), through the worsening of the symptoms till the total dreadful feeling of being really ill. This stage seemed to last forever, then you slowly started to emerge from the hole of pain and depression and saw the sun again. Thus is life. When you face inevitable setbacks along the way, you must experience unpleasant sensations in order to move to wellbeing again. As every now and then your health falters, so does your mood, or your luck, your disposition, your performance etc. Just accept what comes along, take the medicine when there is one, endure and… hope for the best. The sun is still there although your eyes might be unable to see it, right now.