A Ritual Reframe


Sometimes we need a reframe to really see our lives.

Living is a continuous experience of vibration and light like the long, liquid line of a train meandering through the countryside. We see it as separate instances, the changing palette of mountain and grass, but they are all part of the same ride.

Life, our life, is the story we tell ourselves about the living unfolding before our eyes. It is what we, brave passengers, see when we peer out into the watercolor tumult of what is, one window at a time. What we experience as life is simply a frame placed over a moving landscape, a chosen demarcation that tells us what to focus on and where to rest our insight.

To gaze here is to dwell on the soft wonder of a maple tree guarding the edge of a grain field. To gaze here is to worry oneself thin over the presence of a power line.


Rain, Steam and Speed The Great Western Railway by J. M. W. Turner (19th century)


There isn’t very much we can consciously control in the ever-steaming stride of our life. We could no more stop the comings and goings of it all than arrest a train in full glide. So much of our happiness lies in being able to just go along for the ride. We cannot re-lay the tracks, but we do possess an architectural power that can reimagine it all, at any time. Whenever we so choose, we can shift our seats, change our perspective give ourselves a ritual reframe for our lives.

Some years ago I stumbled upon a quote that changed my own life: What if nothing happens to you, but everything is happening  for you?

At the time I was recovering from seven years of chronic pain and health challenges and, as often happens with such quotes, this one found me at the exact right time. Over time of traveling with chronic illness I have experienced a wide range of emotions: anger, victimhood, desolation. A hearty dose of frustration and a good many pleas to some unseen conductor to end the whole ride… I’d like to be let off at the next stop, please!


On the Train by Johan Axel Gustaf Acke (1859-1924)


But of all the modalities I tried, what changed everything, causing the cascade of reckoning that would lead to a complete healing, was a simple shift in my perception of myself and my life. Instead of feeling as though I was a prisoner to my body, a helpless itinerant strapped to a run-away train, I decided to become a participant. I chose to take on chronic illness as my mentor. To re-frame my experience as an opportunity to learn, a gateway to greater miracles in my life.

And from this place onward, true miracles did occur in my body and in my health. But the greatest miracle of all is what happened to my mind. When I chose to see everything as happening for me, the mystery of it all (including my pain) became benevolent, masterful and full of light.

And what I saw when I stood in front of the frame of my life became deeply meaningful, and so very wide.



This month I’m traveling out to New Mexico for the Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference to teach a class that has been forming itself in my heart now for a decade: Chronic Illness as Teacher.

We all have teachers. Mentors who come into our lives to help us to grow, become the people we were meant to be. Guides who help us to open up to the truth of who we are and why we are here. Your teacher might be a guru, a pastor, a professor, an animal companion, a plant, a canyon. In fact, we have many teachers over the course of our life. But for me, and for many of my clients, the most potent, powerful and undeniable teachers have been chronic conditions.

Seeing chronic illness as a teacher was a ritual reframe that changed my life. It was subtle shift, but one that completely altered my experience of being alive.



Are you feeling the deep need to see something different through the window of your own life?

If what lies within the frame of your existence feels painful, limiting, dull, or simply less than artful at this point in your journey, read on. If you are ready to gaze into your life and see more magic and meaning, the mysterious brush of a masterful hand, read on.

Because life, being lived, is a kind of art. All we need to do is stop and re-frame our heart to begin to see the exquisiteness of each stroke.