by William Lee Rand
It's been over four months since the heart attack I experienced on New Year's Eve. Although it was completely unexpected, I knew I would be all right and that it would turn out to be a positive experience, but I didn't realize at the time just how this would unfold.
In the early stages of recovery, I was so weak all I could do was rest and sleep. It was difficult for me to even imagine any type of normal activity. I finally understood how fortunate most of us are to have even a normal level of health and to be able to go about our lives easily. I learned to appreciate life much more than before, and I looked forward to the day when I could return to my previous levels of exercise and activity.
This has now taken place—I've fully recovered! I walk twenty miles a week and feel vital and healthy; there's no physical sign of my having had a heart attack at all. In fact, I feel even stronger than before. To have been so debilitated and then to recover so completely has brought new levels of joy and peace and gratitude into my life.
So, why did I have the heart attack? What caused it? What lessons have I learned from it? As the cause and purpose of this experience have come to me, I have discovered that my heart attack had many levels of meaning. The philosophy that has worked very well for me is to take responsibility for everything that I experience and to acknowledge that on some level of my being, I am the creator of my life. I've also found that there is always some value, lesson, or benefit we receive even from the most seemingly difficult and tragic event. And our deepest healing can begin when we start to uncover this value.
On a conscious level, I didn't choose to have a heart attack, but as soon as I became aware of what was happening, I accepted that a higher aspect of my being—my soul—was creating this event as a learning and healing experience. I knew something positive was taking place and kept an open mind about the value it held for me. I also assumed that with my background as a healer and with so many supportive people around me, I would be able to deal with the situation and heal completely from it. I'm sure it was my positive attitude combined with the many thousands of people who sent Reiki, said prayers, and had my recovery so much in their hearts and minds that brought about the deep healing I experienced...
On still another level, I knew that while my emotional heart was open in many ways, there were some parts that needed healing. I was able to have compassion toward others, but it seemed it was more in a distant way, like having compassion for the planet and for the well-being of all living things. I needed some way to open more completely, so that I'd be better able to get to know people on a personal level and allow them to know me, to really feel how others are feeling and allow them to feel how I'm feeling. And while I know people find it easy to approach me, there were some parts of my heart that were not as open as I or others would have liked. I think the heart attack affected my ability to feel more completely in this way and to express my personal feelings more openly. I believe the heart attack helped me to experience this kind of healing...
But ultimately, there was something else happening on an even deeper and more spiritual level. In the training of the apprentice shaman, there comes a time when a test is necessary to see if the apprentice is ready for the next step. Within this test, the apprentice must face death, and in facing death become aware of something very important about life-the value that life holds, what we can experience from it, and what we can become. This unfolds often as a vision that comes during and shortly after the experience and becomes the basis for the shaman's new life. I feel that something like this has happened for me.
My vision of life and the possibilities it holds are much clearer now. I feel more connected to the value of my own life and to the power of life that flows through me. I have greater joy and confidence and a knowing that I'm deeply cared for and watched over. And while I know there are still many lessons waiting to be learned, I feel certain I'll be able to accomplish them and that my life is being guided safely to fulfillment.
The benefits of having a heart attack have become numerous and clear. Because my need for healing was so great and there was so much love and healing coming from so many people, new channels of light have opened in my heart and upper chakras so that the needed healing could take place. These new channels remain and continue to develop. This has provided me with a much deeper feeling of life flowing back and forth between my heart and others.
I'm now better able to appreciate how people who have debilitating illnesses feel and can empathize in an open-hearted way when they come for treatments or I communicate with them by email. They seem to realize that I now understand where they're at and know what they need in terms of support and encouragement. I feel more connected to them, and my Reiki seems to help them more than before, both physically and emotionally.
The gifts of love and healing I received because of my heart attack are reflected in the work of Dr. Dean Ornish. He's developed a non-drug program that uses exercise, diet, and improvements in the quality of love and human contact in one's life to reverse heart disease. His program has been scientifically tested and validated.
His book Love and Survival contains some interesting research on the importance of one's family and community life in maintaining a healthy heart and in recovering from heart disease. The research shows that the quality of the love in your life-including how emotionally close you are to your family, your friends, community groups, and other people in general—is the number one determining factor in your health...
This is an excerpt from an article in the Summer 2004 issue of the Reiki News Magazine.