Finding Freedom in Illness
Cultivating Deep Well-Being through Mindfulness and Self-Compassion
Regular Price: $119.00
Special Price $59.00
Those of us who have faced chronic illness or pain know that it affects so many aspects of our being: our roles and responsibilities, our relationships, our sense of self-worth, and even our vision for how our life will look in the future. The physical trials of being sick can cause us to become impatient and deflated. Living in a culture of individualism, we may feel shame or guilt when we need to rely on others for care. We may even blame ourselves for our illness as we desperately search for ways to feel better.
In this online course, Peter Fernando, a former monastic and longtime student of his own chronic pain and illness, offers us the tools we need to discover deep well-being in the midst of difficulty and dis-ease. He shows us how to use mindful awareness as the foundation for understanding our experience, so that we can compassionately face the turmoil brought about by illness without becoming overwhelmed by it. He teaches us how to expand the qualities of the heart that reduce our own and others’ suffering—such as equanimity, curiosity, self-kindness, and healthy boundaries. Where we may have thought that our illness was an obstacle to our growth, these teachings show us that we can deepen in our ability to be profoundly present, brave, open, and kind—regardless of our physical state.
This course also includes a module for caregivers on how to make space for your own experience in the midst of caring for another, so that you can approach the practice of caregiving from a place of compassion and wholeness rather than burn-out.
39 talks, ranging from 5–15 minutes in length (over 7 hours of content!)—with transcripts and audio-only versions available
Selected readings with downloadable PDFs from the book Finding Freedom in Illness by Peter Fernando (and a 50% discount on the book)
Nine guided meditations for cultivating various aspects of wisdom and presence in the face of illness
Unlimited access on your computer, mobile device, or tablet—learn at your own pace wherever and whenever works best for you
In this course, you will learn how to:
- Unravel your sense of self-blame around illness
- Reorient yourself around where you find self-worth so you can live a full life
- Discover how to access relief from unnecessary suffering through compassion and relaxation
- Develop a healthy mindset around receiving care and relate with openness and strength
- Learn tools for navigating dark emotions like fear and anger
- Discover how mindful awareness can be a refuge in times of illness
- Find comfort and connection in Peter’s personal stories that describe his own struggles
Mindful Awareness as a Tool for Freedom
To cultivate embodied mindfulness is to become aware of the felt sense. While that might seem like the last thing we want to do when we’re physically uncomfortable, it actually opens the door to a more dynamic relationship with illness or pain. With mindful awareness, we can begin to understand how we’re relating to the condition of the body in this very moment and the here-and-now effects of our intentions and attitude toward the body. This practice gives us the choice to relax, soften, and feel for new possibilities.
Perspectives that Free Us
A popular line of thinking these days suggests that if you’re ill, it’s because you are doing it to yourself—it’s your fault. While this idea often comes disguised as wisdom, it can inspire a sense of guilt that alienates us from our real potential for well-being. Self-blame intensifies emotional pain and very often the severity of the conditions of the body. Getting clear about how we blame ourselves for our illness is the essential foundation for freeing the heart and mind within the experience of being physically ill.
Attitudes and Qualities of the Heart
Attitudes that empower the heart—such as self-kindness, acceptance, and equanimity—are grounded in present-moment awareness. They put the brakes on our tendency to spin out into negative beliefs when we’re faced with hardship. This frees up our thinking and allows our creativity to shine forth. Resting in and trusting the inherent OK-ness of here-and-now awareness allows us to access deeper levels of intuition and wisdom related to our illness, our life, and our relationships. The benefits are vast.
Relating to Pain
The aim of this journey isn’t to try to become somebody who likes pain or doesn’t feel aversion, dejection, fear, or desperation when it arises. Instead, the practice is to develop curiosity about those very reactions themselves, to investigate the nature of pain and our own emotional reactions to it and to shine the light of wisdom and self-compassion onto our present-moment experience of the phenomenon itself. Whenever we do this with sincerity, the existential suffering that usually accompanies the physical sensations begins to abate. We still may not like or want the experience of pain, but our heart doesn’t have to close down in its presence. This is where our real freedom lies.
When Emotions Get Turbulent
The blessing and curse of chronic illness is that it reveals a whole other side to life—one that we may have suppressed or tried to wall off from our awareness in the past: the shadow side of the human mind, which may include fear, despair, anger, and grief. Difficult emotions are a natural response to physical pain, frustrated desire, and the loss of familiar ways of being and performing in the world. Being willing to meet these forces of mind and heart squarely and with a quality of creative self-compassion is a process of becoming fully human and allowing our capacity for presence to open, deepen, and unfold into an intimacy with who and how we are.
Freedom in Relationship
Culturally, we live in an age where individualism and self-reliance are highly valued. This apparent ability to fend for ourselves comes crashing down, however, when we get very sick. When we can’t do everything on our own, we may need others to hold us up—physically, emotionally, and perhaps even financially. This can be an immensely trying and humbling process. But when we open to the field of interrelatedness and connection that is the foundation of our shared humanity, we may discover that the love, care, and support of others is, in fact, a profoundly beautiful gift.
The Healing Power of Deep Rest
When it comes to living with the ongoing experience of illness or pain, giving ourselves time and space to rest deeply is essential. It is well known how important sleep is for the rejuvenation of the cells of the body and our vital organs. Yet perhaps it is not as well known how important consciously resting the momentum of the seeking mind, the absorption in activity, and compulsive doing-ness is when it comes to healing. This kind of nourishment of presence, of heart, of being-ness, is a vital part of finding an authentic sense of inner freedom in the midst of painful, depleted, and uncomfortable physical conditions.
Courageous Shifts: Deepening Insight and Letting Go
As a species we are addicted to differentiation, judgment, and hierarchies of value. Our human mind seems to be wired to become entranced in this illusion. However, when we look and feel underneath the apparent reality of these fragmented perceptions of ourselves and others, we are struck by a whole new possibility. We begin to sense for ourselves that our ultimate value is never found through being somebody, achieving something, or proving anything. It is always right here and now in the sacredness and simplicity of being. It is not “mine” or “yours.” It is the heart of experience itself.
Advice for Caregivers
Being a caregiver is a complex and important role. As we care for someone who is ill, it’s essential that we allow ourselves time to experience the feelings and perceptions that arise in our hearts. When we give compassionate attention not only to the one we are caring for, but also to ourselves and the experience of being a caregiver, we become able to establish healthier boundaries, to speak more wisely, and to show up with greater transparency and compassion.
“Peter Fernando knows what he’s talking about. Having thoroughly explored the shape and implications of chronic illness, he is well situated to provide a compassionate, understanding, and authoritative voice on the matter. Peter clearly embodies the deep work needed to navigate realms of illness and find, even there, well-being.”
“Peter Fernando has the rare ability to express the deep and the profound in a way that is easy to touch and feel. He obviously understands what he is talking about, and at a very refined level.”
“Peter Fernando inspires one to drop all pretences and to embrace fully the complexity of being human with an open heart and mind. The depth of unlayering, curiosity, and honesty that he shares encourages a sincere focus on kindness toward oneself.”
“[Peter’s] experience as a monk gives him a rich understanding of the principles he talks about, and the way he intertwines his own story makes those principles accessible to those of us living in the ‘real world.’”
Peter Fernando is cofounder of Original Nature Meditation Centre in Wellington, New Zealand. He was a monk in the Thai Forest tradition at Abhayagiri Monastery in Ukiah, California, where he trained under Ajahn Passano and Ajahn Amaro. He’s currently a student of Sharda Rogell and Ajahn Sucitto. A longtime sufferer of chronic pain and various health problems himself, he’s been working with others in that situation since 2009 on an individual basis in Wellington and Auckland and in groups regularly at the Wellington Multiple Sclerosis Society.
If for any reason you are not completely satisfied with your purchase, please e-mail us within 30 days of registering for the course, and we will promptly refund your purchase price.
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