A bardo is the intermediate stage between two states. In Buddhism this is usually taught as the state between death and rebirth – at the end of one life and the beginning of another. It can also be recognised as the state between one sphere of experience and another. One experience dies so the next can be born. So for most of us illness is a bardo experience that punctuates the flow of usual good health. Our familiar experience of health dies and a state of illness is born, which will in turn die so that health can return.
There are many opportunities for meditation practice when ill – being aware of the impermanence of health and the impermanence of illness; entering the dimension of the new sensory experiences illness creates; dwelling in the emptiness of not-being-able-to-do. When the body is sick the mind can remain cheerful. We do not have to lose our sense of humour.
So today I am emerging once more into the world of the living. It is always surprising to realise that it has only been a week of illness when I am getting better. The worst days of being ill can be pretty intense and uncomfortable, but I am one of the lucky ones who are usually mostly well and it’s good to remember that.