Why the haste? Behind it is a fear that you have to grab on to as much as you as a sort of barrier between you and death. Another sign: obsessive neatness, obsessive desire to control every little aspect of your life, with the primal feeling that in this way you can "control" even death. This desire to control can make you a petty tyrant, or even a Saddam Hussein. And we know what happened to him.
1) Impact on sitting/asanaSevere sickness often involves resting in the bed, or lying on a sofa/couch etc, or in turn squirming to find the most comfortable or least painful position you can. Yet spiritual practice depends a lot, especially meditation, on being able to sit up with your back straight. Meditating lying down maybe your only option, if you are sick, but it is a hard thing to pull off. Recitation of japa, however, has no such restrictions. Remember the inspiring words of Mahatma Gandhi, who as he collapsed dying kept repeating the sacred name of Rama. So, if you have to lie down, feel generally really sick... japa could be the only lifeline you have to spiritual practice. Don't get too wound up on "missing" some great secret. In life you will face many practical obstacles that can take years to resolve. Be patient.
So however sick you are, try sitting up, prop yourself up in bed, on a couch, and keep your spine straight. This is important for all sorts of reasons, both obvious and subtle.
Pranayama, the conscious regulation of breath in the shushumna,ida and pingala subtle spiritual channels, comes in very handily if you are sick, as well, and this too depends on a straight back.
2) Painkillers/MedicineThe unfortunate corollary of being sick is the prevalence of western medicine to kill the pain... which in turn dulls the senses and makes meditation very difficult and concentration of any kind. Your mind clouds over, your concentration scatters, and you can end up in a state of torpor and exhaustion where you lose your bearings entirely.
It's a very difficult task to deal with chronic pain, but from my own experience I would urge minimal use of any painkillers. They are not conducive to meditation at all. Sometimes pain has its own stories to teach you as well - contemplating physical pain intellectually is one thing. Contemplating pain when you are feeling it is a whole other spiritual exercise. You will find, if you are very quiet about it, that it is perfectly obvious that you are not the pain, you are witnessing it, and it can become amazingly cl;ear and obvious that you are not the body, not the cloudy mind either, nor the refined intellect that watches the pain. Behind all this, even more intimately, is a mysterious vast experience of utter silence, beyond any naming. Pain can help give you this realisation. But it takes courage and self-mastery to actually allow this experience.
Another aspect of pain is that our breathing can become very irregular - in moments of extreme pain we can forget to breathe (some dentists know very well). But, again, regulation of the breath is a great way to disperse tension.
There are other aspects to sadhana and the experience of pain. Do you make everyone else's life a misery by constantly referring to it? By playing the victim? By demanding that others serve you because you are so ill and delicate? Sick people can become little monsters, and the Ego can often clutch on to sickness as a way to control and manipulate others.
Luckily there are many examples even in mundane life of people who bear sickness bravely, without complaint, without bitterness, and even thanking God for it. This is difficult. There is no need to be sentimentally pious about your troubles. But nevertheless, seen from a high spiritual perspective, there is Shakti in sickness just as there is in health. There are the same broad patterns: the arising and cessation of sensations, which in turn remind us of the impermanence of all phenomena. So, be brave, don't make a spectacle of your illness.
I've known some individuals who experienced an extra dose of caring when they were sick as children, and so make a habit of constantly complaining about their health. This can create a sort of spidery vortex in your subtle energy, which seeks to entrap others and draw the energy from them. Not really a spiritual practice! Your ultimate fall-back position if you want to pursue sadhana is service for others, not manipulation of others.
3) Permanent DisabilityPerhaps the most famous testament to the power of spiritual practice to overcome all adversity is the Ashtavakra Gita, an astonishing teaching work from Ashtavakra a saint crippled "in eight places" who taught the famous Royal householder Yogi King Janaka. This is such a powerful testament to spiritual teaching an is essential reading and you should be able to find the text somewhere on the internet.
Have a read of it, if you suffer from permanent disability, and be comforted. God can be realised at any time, anywhere, by anyone. You are immortal, deathless, supreme, not the crippled body you may inhabit.
4) And back to Japa againWhen you are sick, you don't have to tie yourself to targets or deadlines for japa. Just simply, when you can, recite one of the names of the Lord or the Devi... even a simple "Mother" can do it! I find some of the sayings said to come from that great Yogi Jesus to be beautifully appropriate: "Thy Will be Done," sums it all up.
5) Insomnia from sickness
I remember a truly wonderful experience that came unbidden to me when I was suffering from jet lag and insomnia, in a hotel near Houston, Texas. I went for a walk pre-dawn on a golf course by the hotel, tired and irritable. Then the sun slowly, majestically, began to rise. Within the sun I saw threads of embedded mantras unwrapping themselves, spreading across the sky. I heard cosmic voices, angelic voices accompanying the dawn, and my hearty just melted. Before I realised it, tears streamed down my face as I saw the incomparable beauty of the Sun, Lord Surya, ascend the heavens. I have only fleetingly since then felt that same beauty from the sun, and then only at sunset. But getting up to watch the sunrise can be an experience that remains with you all your life, it is so sacred and special. That sunrise healed me of my worries at the time. It bathed me in light, in the glories and mastery of the inner spiritual light which is of an entirely different order than the ordinary light we see: it is completely white, this spiritual light, and it was in this instance hidden behind the gold of the sunlight.
6) Natural healers
The parable of PuranjanaOne of the greatest teaching stories from the ancients, in this case the great Sage Narada Muni can be found in the Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto 4, and this immediately came to my mind when I heard my twin brother had an inoperable brain tumour.
The text below is from a another site, so not my words, but it gives you the basic narrative. Study this carefully, read the original if you can. It contains such key teachings about life, suffering, and death: Unusually for teaching stories, we are told right from the start that this is an allegory and should be interpreted as such, and the very name of the character, Puranjana gives the key to it all, ie Pura, city, Anjana, nine, nine gates. The embodied soul. Read the story and my comments at the end: