Reclaiming Your Power While Struggling With Chronic Illness

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Lynn Fuentes offers a brief teaching about how to reclaim your power while struggling with the sense of disempowerment that often accompanies various kinds of chronic illness, whether you are dealing with your personal health issues or those of a loved one.


I’ve watched/listened to several of these interviews, and yesterday it was CdV’s, which was beautiful and struck a chord with me personally. It took me back to a particularly long phone conversation with my niece about three years ago. She wept uncontrollably, speechless, and I on the other end of the line was the mainly silent container for her grief. Her child too was born with this rare, of-unknown-cause birth defect and diagnosed at 2 mos. with biliary atresia. He had the liver transplant at 14 mos., but did not make it through the operation.

So when my eyes began to leak at a certain point in this Corey-Lynn conversation, I wasn’t quite sure if I was feeling their grief, my niece’s, my own? Ultimately, it’s just one pot of suffering we have in this world, and it doesn’t much matter to me anymore where the grief I feel originates. Or the joy.

I can rarely think of this great-nephew without recalling (in paraphrase) something I read (Rumi? Hafiz? It escapes me at the moment):

“When you came into this world, people laughed but you were crying. When you leave this world, people will be crying, but you will laugh.”

I swear I can still hear the bright little spirit of this baby laughing as he left.

I’m very glad your daughter is doing well, Corey. Thanks for sharing your story, and the teaching moments.


Thank you so much for your comment LaWanna. And thank you for sharing your story, which absolutely shattered me, while also reminding me just how fortunate our little family is. Bottomless love to you and to your family, who I will include in my ongoing gratitude and tonglen practices.

And I love what you said about suffering here, and being unable to tell where one person’s suffering ends and another’s begins. I think you are right that it ultimately does not matter where the origins of the grief or the joy can be located, because it is part of the actual substrate of human experience. As I tried to communicate in the interview, my own experiences have helped me discern a “heart that cannot be broken” and a “heart that is forever broken” constantly beating behind the background of all incarnation, woven throughout this human fabric, which is what lights up for me when I read your words.

There is a uniqueness to these things as well, of course, and we certainly do not want to lose sight of the unique alchemy of joy and suffering that is produced by a particular set of experiences and expressed through a particular kosmic address. It’s like becoming a parent for the first time — you know that this is an experience that countless people have had before you, and yet when it happens to you, it is as though an entirely new Big Bang is taking place just for your eyes, and yours is the very first love the universe has ever tasted.

And both are true, I think, and both need to be tended to. These kinds of acute experiences of joy and suffering are often the only things that can connect the unique with the universal, the personal with the perennial.

Thank you again for the warm words LaWanna, and for helping me dredge out a bit more of this muck that is constantly accumulating within my heart.

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First of all, thanks CdV for the gift of inclusion in your practices; both very gracious and kind of you. Know that you and your family are in my healing sights as well. And an equally bottomless love goes out to you. Despite, or maybe even because of, all the “muck” you might feel you’re carrying in your heart, I think most people who experience you, including on this community forum, would say you’re just pretty darn awesome, so that’s that.

Your remarks in the interview and here as well were so vital and on-point; I couldn’t agree with you more about the importance of tending to both the unique/personal and the universal/perennial.

I can see that I may have given a wrong impression; not only did I cobble a lot into a couple of sentences, but in the name of brevity and LaWanna-shorthand, I sacrificed the clarity of a fuller explanation. When I said “theirs, my niece’s, my own?” I was indeed referring to the ‘one pot’ of suffering and where does one person end and another begin? but I was also pointing to the transactional nature of subtle energy fields, even when those energy fields are at a physical distance from one another, time and space being absolutely, constructs.

When I said “doesn’t much matter to me anymore,” I could have added “regardless of the ‘originating source’ of the feeling; regardless of whether the source can accurately be pin-pointed (as it’s not always an easy thing to do, to sort out originating sources), if it shows up in my self-system, in my subtle body, I am responsible to it.”

So this is how that process went down from this particular kosmic address. (Might this really show up on the front page of the NYT? Oh well…chagrin, chagrin) As the grief that arose spontaneously listening to your interview hung around, and after reading your reply yesterday, began to stream full-throttle as wet-stuff from my eyes; after the tears dried and my emotions generally calmed, I sat to do inner inquiry re: source. I did realize the personal piece of it, the piece I could “own” as self-originating, as from the “heart that is forever broken.”

As I made dinner, I was aware of a clearing, and yet, while a good cry can be relieving/cleansing/healing, they can also leave me feeling a bit spacey. So after dark, I went outdoors and “stood my ground” in the wet and ferocious storm-winds, and let the confrontation with the natural forces cohere me again. It worked great.

And then I reflected on grief in the abstract, in the context of how I have often experienced it. It has usually been a feeling of vacancy for me, something of a cavernous void that spills a snare of multiple off-shoots and tangled strands into my subtle body. Some of these ‘strands’ have an obvious presence; they’re easily identified, “named,” and thus easier to both witness and work with–emotions/feelings/sensations like sadness, anxiety, self-pity, anger, heaviness, etc.

Other ‘strands’ are remarkable due to their absence of presence, if you know what I mean; things like apathy, a sense of futility, lack of direction. They’re there, but are characterized more by an absence than a presence, an absence of vitality/energy, for instance, or an absence of purpose.

Then there are the ‘strands’ that are elusive, hard to get a hold of; perhaps so thoroughly blanketing and permeating the lay of consciousness that they simply seem like the forest that harbors the trees. One feels/senses them as “muck” as you say, but maybe doesn’t see them clearly enough to name them, simply because they are just always subtly there, and one becomes a bit accustomed/habituated to them.

I remember a period in the 90s dealing with grief over the break-up of a long-term relationship. I thought I was handling it pretty well, until during a phone conversation with a trusted spiritual advisor who out of the blue at the end of the conversation said “address the bitterness!” then hung up. Shock! what bitterness? With attentive self-observation, I did begin to sense the bitterness, and yet, it seemed hard to bring into sharp focus.

So I decided to try working with the bitterness on the gross-sensory body level, by adding more bitter foods and drinks to my diet. I would consciously “at-one” with the bitterness of a tea, or dandelion greens, or dark chocolate or whatever, and just the increased attention to bitterness on this level did help me be more aware of the feelings of bitterness on the subtle level. I mostly just witnessed and at-oned with these feelings, but I also did some work of tracing them to particular (distorted) thoughts: “plans interrupted, life detoured, dreams dead, prayers unanswered, failed positive expectancies, let down by others and by self, and this unrelenting responsibility for the burdensome carriage of muck!” Yuck!

So this has been my “work” around the grief that arose with your story. We all have our different ways, but maybe there’s something of use here to you, or not.

And here’s a toast to the two-chambered heart, the “hurts more, but bothers you less” little drummer inside all of us. Thank you.


Your words in the context of this topic (grief, especially) have brought to my mind one of my favorite lines from a song I’m fond of:

“It’s easy to be thankful for the things you’ve got, it takes guts to give thanks for the things you’ve lost.”

I found your description of your work with grief: interesting, beautiful, and useful. Thank you.


Coda, yes, “the guts of a coyote pack.”
I had a feeling this would be something special, and it was; gave me my first goose-bumps of wonder, gratitude, and love for the day. Thank you. “You must be a friend.”

I’m glad what I wrote found a place in you.

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