Health as the Most Important Relationship

Written by Jay Tilley

Where i am is significant and worthy of reflection. No one in the first two and a half decades of my experience told me this was a place i could get, and so of course, no one ever said i should strive ceaselessly to get here. (There were the occasional hints, moments of revelation that kept me on the path i am on — these almost always came as wisdom disguised in allegory and anecdote).

I have been where i currently am once before, with even more sincerity and naturalness, though i did not quite recognize it the way i do now, as i was too young to be at all outside of the experience. I will return in full; i am well on my way.

Perhaps it is the very nature of the journey to get here that has kept its existence from my understanding for so long. For it can be a long and arduous journey, a pilgrimage back to the soul, back to the union of all things. However, i am here!

Where am i?

I am, through openness, awareness and patience, in the infancy of the most important relationship in existence. This is not bragging, for this relationship does not belong solely to me. Quite the opposite. This relationship is begging for you, constantly seeking out every single human being: a relationship to the self.

I feel confident in stating that we exist to be heard, to hear, to understand and be understood, to ceaselessly love and feel love in its limitlessness. Would it not be essential that we first experience this in a relationship with ourselves?

I am not mind AND body. I am. There is no division in me — though infinite divisions have been conceived; i am everything i experience: i am my pain and joy, my physical being, my ability to think and feel. These words belie the wholeness of me and distract an innate inclination to the unity of life.

There is consciousness in every cell, at every moment of my existence; unending communication. Will i listen? Yes! For every second i have spent in stillness and quiet, without judgement, i have heard the voice of myself louder and clearer and more profound. There is a line in Walden, by Henry David Thoreau, that speaks to this potential:

“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavour.”

Perhaps you have heard a similar sentiment before. Perhaps you are inclined to distrust it, or have not come across it at all. Luckily a truth is independent of one’s knowledge of it: we have an unlimited potential to interact with and shape our own existence.

There is no other who can know you better than you can know yourself. There is no relationship more capable of endless love, honesty and healing than the relationship we can have with ourselves.

True healing and peace of being come only from perfect listening. If we can remove, one by one, any and all obstacles to self communication, revealed will be the path to the end of all suffering.

A dull, tight pain has been in my side for over four years now. At times this pain has consumed all of me, and at others it has stayed quietly and calmly in the distant reaches of my awareness, but never out of mind. For four years now i have listened to this pain, to this part of myself that is always trying to communicate. To say it has been frustrating at times is to spare you the details. It has not been easy, and at many points i have been uncertain of how to proceed. For four years i have been learning how to listen; hearing is not the same. Understanding is only a part of listening, whereas judgement has no place. I have been learning how to truly listen. Listening is stillness, awareness without judgement, recognition without analysis: allowing that which desires to be revealed to introduce itself. Every time i practice listening i am reminded of a Matryoshka doll, the often Russian-themed wooden dolls of decreasing size placed one inside the other. When i truly listen a layer of separation between me and myself is lifted. It lifts to reveal another layer, yes, but each time it does the layer is thinner, less resistant and almost desirous of being dissolved. Stress, uncertainty, pain, tension, fear, restlessness, they all dissolve. What is left is profound, still, peaceful, certain, knowable, universal and perfect. The external may be persuasive. It is certainly powerful, unrelenting and everywhere. However, there is an energy internal, it may grow dim, it may be forgotten, but it is never gone. It is grounded, pure, wiser than all time, as powerful as all existence — for it is one and the same — and it is the healer of any and all suffering. Listen to it.


Health is the Chairs and Tables theme for 2015–2016. We pick a theme for at least four seasons and s-l-o-w-l-y release a report on it. For a full list of writers, the editorial team, and more on the subject and themes for previous years, hit open sesame.