05/19/2015 01:01 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What I Learned While in Hospital: 4 Questions to Transform Suffering


We all have breakdowns from time to time.

Mine happened recently when I was in the hospital with a life-threatening health concern. Life all came to a halt when I was in the hospital.

While there, I wasn't sure if I'd make it out. But I did my best to remain calm for each moment I could. This was definitely an exercise in radical presence.

I'm through the acute phase of this experience but still harmonizing my body from the imbalances. There's a lot to learn.

These types of body-breakdown moments, if we aren't a Buddha or Jesus yet, can really throw us off.

Not only was I sick physically, but I also felt lost and confused. I felt a temporary disconnection from spirit and creative flow that led me to prioritize healing.


I also started to ask lots of questions.

But there are certain questions that are helpful and others that are harmful, I found.

I saw I needed to avoid asking things like "Why did this happen to me?" because this question leads towards thinking like a victim full of self-pity or blame.

So I now keep asking: "What can I learn from this?"

This type of inquiry is powerful. It leads to even more integration. It often helps ease the physical ailment when mind and body come even more into harmony.

I want to especially note that these questions do not imply blame if someone is experiencing suffering, illness or imbalance. Yet they do imply ownership and responsibility for facing ones experiences and transforming them as positively as possible.

So when these types of breakdowns happen I also ask myself:
"What is the blessing in this? What is the lesson in this?"

And eventually I ask myself "what can I share from this? How can my experience be of benefit to others?"

Then, I work on patience. The answers don't always come quickly or clearly. But they always come.

So I am learning all about even more radical self-love and self-care from this breakdown.

I thought I had the self-care game down. I do yoga, meditate, love my family, work and life! Sounds good, right?


I got to discover even greater layers of calm, peace, caring for my body, mind and spirit than ever before. I got to learn even healthier ways to deal with stress.

It truly is such a gift. I am so grateful to say that I've made some big life-style shifts that have dramatically helped my recovery and will help many clients and students live happier lives, with less stress and more flow in the future.

It has been an invitation into deeper lessons on love and care.

So we can ask ourselves, if we are in challenging situations, health or otherwise:

1. "What can I learn from this?"

2. "What is the blessing in this?"

3. What are the lessons in this?"

4. "What might I share from this? How can my experience benefit others?"

These questions are helpful in almost all situations as we move into deeper responsibility and co-creation of our lives. Try it and let me know how it goes!

Be well,
Susanna Barkataki