The way I lost weight and the way I healed my autoimmune pain had a lot in common.
One of the commonalities was my underlying belief that health is natural. Our bodies naturally incline to a healthy weight. Our immune systems naturally protect the body rather than attacking it.
According to Daoism it is our interference in nature and our contrived efforts to control nature that end up causing illness and dysfunction.
So the whole time I was searching for the solution to these physical problems, I had great faith that my natural state of health would re-emerge if I stopped interfering.
And it did. I took away compulsive overeating, listened to my natural hunger, and my weight decreased naturally.
I stopped pushing myself and let go of various stressful thoughts, and my pain and inflammation went away.
What about life?
But when it came to the rest of life, that faith dissipated.
Partly because “nature” is easier to associate with the body than with society, economy, and meaning in life.
These “higher order” subjects are usually associated with the problem of human interference, rather than with the movement of the Way.
But it’s also partly because physical health is not under our direct control. It makes sense that our health would follow nature, but how can our career choices, income, daily interactions, or the flow of traffic?
I didn’t give up on finding the Way in daily life, but because of this dichotomy between the human and the natural I concluded that finding the Way in everyday life was much harder and required more effort.
I was fixated on the problem of “ego” and the Daoist idea of being free from desires. I thought I had to attain a special spiritual state before I could find my Way.
It didn’t occur to me to equate living a good life with the natural health of my body.
Yet health and wealth are not so different. The Dao or Way that governs my physical body and draws it naturally to health is the same Way that guides my life into ease and abundance.
So by inference, what I require is faith that the Way wills abundance in my life just as it wills health in my body, and the only obstacle to both is my own interference.
I don’t need to attain a special spiritual state, just stop interfering in the natural flow and movement of the Way.
Health and wealth
In fact health isn’t just about the absence of illness and disease either. Health is wholeness and completeness, and by extension well-being also.
Daoism teaches that the Way nourishes and cares for all beings. Reminiscent of “Consider the lily” or the birds of the field, the mysterious power of the Way assures us of well-being.
How do we get out of our own way? How do we stop interfering with the wholeness and well-being that flow to us?
As I’ve been learning, the answer is twofold: first and most importantly, appreciate and savour the well-being that already flows to you, because in so doing, we tune into the source of that well-being and reaffirm its full availability to us.
I did this automatically with my health issues: recognising that the rest of my body functioned perfectly well; and even going so far as to recognise that being overweight was actually a healthy response to overeating, and that my autoimmune pain was a healthy reaction to internal stress and emotional tension.
The second part of aligning with our natural well-being is to recognise that it is our negative thoughts and ensuing emotions that interfere with this well-being. The Way does not abandon us, we are the ones who deviate from its path.
In that sense, our negative feelings and the absence of well-being is an indicator that we are straying from the path. The gaps in our welfare and happiness are self-inflicted, if we stop entertaining them our natural well-being will quickly reassert itself in our experience.
Imagine, then, the streams of well-being flowing to you from the Way, the mysterious being that governs and nourishes all things, nourishing and guiding you into the wholeness and well-being you desire.
Remain in that stream, appreciate the goodness and relief and happiness it contains and let it carry you forward in grace.