Practising Your Spirituality During Tough Health Times

When ones health deteriorates or one becomes disabled it can be difficult adjusting to the new you, and what is your new normal. All areas of your life need to be adapted to suit your needs and capabilities, and your spiritual life and well-being is no different. Recently I posed this question on our Facebook group and I thought it would be helpful to others to share the ideas put forward. Here is the question:

Hi folks. I thought we could have a discussion about how you practise your spirituality and craft when going through physically or mentally tough times. What have you found helps you? What adaptations have you made to make doing things easier? What advice were you given, or could you give, to people who are maybe in the early days of health issues? I really look forward to seeing your answers, as I myself am having to learn how adapt.

There were many interesting answers and these gave me a lot to consider, and I do appreciate being part of this community that is willing to be helpful and supportive, it is a blessing.

The Altar was a key point for many people. Jenny said “It’s not really adaptation but something really simple that grounds me is to dress my altar.”   Hazel added “I’ve moved my altar to ground level so I can lay next to it on cushions, and I have deity statues by my bed.”  Sylvia also mentions her altar “I have my altar visible from my bed, and I find dressing it with seasonal flowers etc keeps me feeling in touch with the world as it turns.”

Karon gave some really useful tips “Herbs in pots in kitchen window for when I can’t get outside, crystals beside my bed and lots of meditation. Candles in the bathroom, essential oils and Himalayan salt in the bath or bags of herbs hung from the shower so the water runs through them. Saging the house seems to help me become more positive when I am suffering from anxiety. I also use these down times to try and read as much as I am able.”

Steve shared some of his personal practise, which I really liked, “Years ago, I made a Medicine bag. It’s my Altar-in-a-bag. Little leather drawstring bag, stones for God and Goddess, stones for each element that’d sat on one of my altars for a couple of years, stones for *compassion* *me* *my condition* *chance* and *change*. All bound up with a leather thong holding a pentagram. If I’m stressed, or tired, or going into a stressful situation, I hold it. Usually in a pocket. Nothing else. Just the feel of the stones through tactile leather of the bag, and the brass pentagram protecting all. Remembering the nature and meaning of each stone, feeling for each by shape. It grounds me.”

Continuing on the ‘crafty’ vein, Hazel also said, “I make air-dry clay poppet type things of my body parts that get infected and do spells on them, and poultices on the infections I can reach like mouth and cuts etc (I’m immune compromised.)”

Our wonderful members even have guidance for when you are not able to move around much. Andria said, “Cultivate the mind … you can do a lot with the imagination … inner sanctuaries … practices … awareness. (It feels sometimes that we have to ‘do’ rather a lot. Do, rather than ‘be.’ I guess it’s our culture.) But when you’re tired you can go to your special inner place, (you can create a mansion and be endlessly discovering what’s in it) meet guides there, ask questions. In fact you can do all of it in the mind and by doing so, strengthen your mind and yourself for tough times. Lying in bed you can travel to other places, you can become adept at this with practice, and your inner life can open right out, and, with growing intimacy, you can befriend those on other planes who will help you and give you courage. You don’t always have to light a candle, although that’s nice too.” 

And again from Hazel, “Also I’ve been trying to do more word based stuff so I can just say spells or devotionals when I can’t move much.”  Anna has wise words for these times too, “I acknowledge that this is my ‘fallow time’ resting as the earth does in winter.”

Suzanne offered practical ideas for making use of difficult times, “The early days I document what I am experiencing so when it has shifted or alleviated I can reflect back on what I did, should of done whilst leaving a path to swifter aid next time around. I pray a lot, keep things simple for me, focus my time on cooking, preparing and cleaning out old things that no longer serve me (clothes, old herbs, fabric, worn out spell candles, used offerings etc).”

Jason gave a useful idea for when you may be struggling mentally, “Anyone who has been to my ceremonies knows how much I love songs in my spirituality. This also applies to my solo practice. When I’m feeling really low I will sing or hum some of my favourite ceremony songs. My favourite for when I’m in a really dark place is ‘Fire Transform Me’. It always bucks me up.”

Sylvia had some more wise advice gained from personal experience, “My ability to focus mentally is low these days, so I do more things briefly using physical means – chants, candles. I keep a candle on the edge of the bath and put an intent into it when I light it – though mostly I just stare vaguely at the flame enjoying it. I think overall I’ve become less goal-oriented, and do more that just helps me feel connected.”

Dianne had an interesting suggestion, “Do as much as you can, go out as much as possible. Then, when time comes that you cannot get to outdoor events as that involves walking, cannot get to events as that involves travelling, meeting unknown others or getting a lift, then you will have memories to look back on.”

And finally some advice from Karen, “Letting go of doing physically and slowing down. You can enjoy simple tiny everyday rituals of life, and all the beautiful creatures and spirits we share world with.”

I hope that you find the guidance offered helpful and I would like to thank everyone who kindly took the time to share their words of wisdom.

Heidi Patchett