As we entered the weekend, I noticed I had major symptoms of oncoming cold or flu. I tried to drive these away by eating like a bear at breakfast and dinner, and did not let my condition interfere with the workshop, where we had a royally good time. But, with my nasal passages largely blocked, I found it hard to get more than two hours sleep at night. No problem, I told myself. I had already planned to spend a few days in Barcelona between Frankfurt and my next depth workshop in Utrecht next weekend, exploring Gaudi territory and hopefully enjoying a little sun and sea.
Fast-forward to 3:30 a.m. today. I am hunched over the sink in the bathroom, my chest screaming with pain when I cough, and a slosh of stuff I don't want to look at heaving from me to the drain. I don't get colds or flu, I have told myself for years. But this is moving very fast, towards bronchitis and possibly pneumonia. I recall, without cheer, how fast that happened when I was a boy, and suffered life-threatening bouts of double pneumonia twelve times over eight years, between the ages of three and eleven. I thought I had put all that behind me, and found a way to show up in this body on a reliable basis, at least on most days.
I'll need to find a doctor, I realize. Or at least see if a local pharmacy would sell me some powerful antibiotics without the formality of a prescription. Back to bed, my chest aching. At least, with this sudden and serious descent of my condition down through the respiratory system, I could breathe a little through the nose.
I lie on my back, finding some slight comfort in the surprising quiet of this part of Eixample (the Gaudi-era section of Barcelona outside the Old City), hoping for at least a little rest. I continue to be gripped by a sense that my condition is serious, and could get very much worse. Okay, I tell myself. Try your own stuff. Start by asking for help, and ask the right way.
It took me some thinking before I got the words of my petition right. Speaking to the Universal Healer, I said, "I ask for the health my body requires to serve the purposes of the soul." Wait, let's be more specific. "I ask for the health my body requires to serve my purposes as teacher, creator, writer, healer and father." From somewhere in the depths, I sensed approval.
Then a power rushed into me, entering me from behind, around the kidneys. Its wild rush and its potency reminded me of the bull, and I recalled my encounter, walking the city on Tuesday morning, with the thinking bull of the Rambla de Catalunya. I felt this huge, bull-like energy spreading all through me and expanding my energy field and my sense of my physical size and strength.
I now felt another stream of energy, rising like a great serpent from the Earth, up through the soles of my feet, and through all of my energy centers.. And yet another stream, a tremendous flood of light washing down through my crown to join the others in dynamic, confluent movement.
Now a strong vision rose spontaneously, showing me how my body had been invaded and how its defenders were now moving with decision to trap them and destroy the invaders. The scene resembled the barbican of a medieval castle. The barbican was the space between an outer and an inner gate, in front of the main castle walls. It was designed as a death trap for attackers who managed to break through the outer gate. Once invaders got inside the barbican, the defenders could seal the outer gate, leaving the inner gate closed, and then massacre the intruding force by firing arrows into it through slits in the inner walls and sometimes in a roof structure overhead. Hurling down stones and pouring boiling oil over the invaders were also popular defense stratagems.
I watched with delight as the defenders of my immune system dealt with my body's invaders.Now I could see the brilliance of allowing them through the outer gate, into the death trap. I watched the mass execution of the germs directed by a lord wearing the silver antlers of a stag on his helm. As the attack faltered and the grisly germ-warriors died, I saw a giant of my cause, wearing the horns of a bull, wading among my body's enemies, finishing them off with his great ax.
I leaped from the bed, absolutely certain that my battle had been won. I went to the bathroom and coughed. No pain. The phlegm that came out was now brown, not green or yellow. I was expelling the corpses of the illness army. I felt vastly restored.
When I returned to bed and scanned my condition, I was delighted to see that the defense forces were now scouring out the space of the barbican. Finally the bull-knight summoned women in long white dresses to finish the cleaning, checking that no marks appeared on their fine white linen.
I am quite sure I am good to go.
I readily concede that my methods of imaginal self-healing may not work for everyone. And there is really no need to send me lists of remedies and preventives for my future use. I have known since boyhood that my body believes the images I allow in, and I most certainly know that we all do better when we remember to ask for help in the right way.
Oh, yes, I must add: the only teachers who interest me are ones who truly walk their talk.
Thinking bull on the Rambla de Catalunya. Photo by R.M.