In the Bardo – Part II — Health Crisis as Vision Quest


/ Photo by TroyMason /

I had a bad case of food poisoning this past spring. I reported my experience to my acupuncturist: fever and intense abdominal pain. She surprised me by responding, “You went on a journey, didn’t you? What did you learn?” In my delirium, I heard messages about my future, and they came true a few months later.

A health crisis is a catalyst for spiritual introspection and illumination. You are disconnected from your body because of pain, discomfort, and medication. You find yourself suspended between the physical and spiritual realms. It is another Bardo state.

If you pay attention, you’ll notice that your intuitive awareness is heightened because you are temporarily released from your conditioning. Your mind just stops working so hard to perceive the world in the same way.

A health crisis is a vision quest. It is a spiritual journey. Your bed becomes your mountaintop and your teepee.

A vision quest includes:

Fasting from daily routines
Sitting alone in the wilderness
Waiting for a vision
Returning to community.

In school, you get a hall pass to go to the bathroom. You step out of the classroom, wander the hallways, and eventually you return to class relieved and your concentration renewed.

As adults, in a culture that does not make room for the vision quest, we have a health crisis instead. That is our hall pass. It is our excuse to briefly step outside of work routines and mental habits. The mind is free to wander. The body and spirit are purified. We return to the world restored with a new balance of the spirit. You have returned to yourself.

Here’s a song, Return to Innocence, by Enigma to accompany your vision quest:

2 comments on “In the Bardo – Part II — Health Crisis as Vision Quest

  1. Radha says:

    This is an amazing co incidence! I have been in bed with typhoid too. Just recovering. Just before that I had an intense inner/outer spiritual experience and thereafter had gone thru a ‘limbo’ state which i now recognize as the bardo. I was puzzled about this illness which tho not as bad as it could’ve been, did keep me in bed. I’d been wondering why… I’m rarely sick and always only when I want it; now I see why – I needed time out to digest.

  2. Radha,
    I’m glad the Bardo article arrived at just the right time, and we discovered that we’d had similar experiences. I find that illness is that meditation period I can’t afford to miss. We have to call a time-out from our daily routines to as you said “to digest” life. It’s a welcome intermission!

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