4 Reasons I Give Thanks for My MS Diagnosis This Thanksgiving

Eight months ago I was in a hospital bed getting a spinal tap after seeing double and unable to walk on my own. Only then did I learn what multiple sclerosis was. Rather than give into intimidating assumptions from the medical community, not to mention friends and family, I found inner strength, conviction and power. And for that, I am grateful.

But to clarify. Did I want this? Did I know what MS really was? Had I any comfort level with it? No, no, and no. Was there a moment of worry? Oh yes. That instant when an emergency room doctor said, "sounds like MS" and I saw my father, a man so strong, deflate. But later, alone in the predawn hours of my hospital room, I put into practice the tools that I'd taught others in my work as a meditation guide; I connected with my inner spirit and aligned with my higher self. Not even able to see out of both eyes at the same time, I could see this diagnosis for what it was- a much higher calling.

Now, when I say I'm grateful for my diagnosis, I'm not just talking about optimism. I'm not trying to see the "bright side" of a crappy situation, because that means I believe it to be, well, "crappy." Quite the opposite, I thoroughly live in a state of gratitude and see what I would not have, were it not for this life changing diagnosis.

Here's why I give thanks, and how anyone given a scary diagnosis can begin to be empowered by it:

1. We only get what we can handle... So evidently I'm a badass
We all are. Anyone who's stared down an "incurable disease" to say, no, I'm not giving into the fear, is working miracles in their own life. I believe that if we were strong enough to have received it, we're strong enough to thrive with it. But it might take a shift in perception to get there.

We can choose to shift our way of thinking, and see that we've been handed a badge of courage from the Universe. This concept then opens our minds to other wonderful insights. (Thank goodness! Those come in handy when figuring out how to exist in a new physical reality.)

We are each so capable of greatness, but consider that the routine of daily life might have actually been keeping us stuck in a loop of mediocrity. A crazy diagnosis cuts through all the normal stuff, eviscerating our daily duties, and opening up space to releasing our soul purpose.

2. I got super clear on my mission, and created a reality to accomplish it
Upon my diagnosis I was leading people to explore higher consciousness as a meditation guide (my symptoms actually appeared the morning when I woke up to start kundalini healing therapy training), and after the diagnosis I realized there was no time to dilly-dally. I wanted to create great change in the world, but I was also worn out just caring for myself.

In Eastern Medicine, MS is considered the "disease of exhaustion." Many of us living with MS feel this exhaustion and thus feel defeated. I chose not to accept defeat, but to just. stop. exhausting. myself. A tough lesson for a perennially busy entrepreneur, but I was determined to make my big juicy life goals happen, even with limited energy. The valuable lesson was distinguishing between being efficient and effective. Efficient means accomplishing a To-Do List quickly. Effectiveness meant only taking on tasks that generate significant results. Counter-intuitively to the "do-er" that I am, this meant using stillness everyday to focus and determine what actions would yield game-changing results.

3. I fast-tracked my self-love journey
MS is no joke. Yet I look at this "incurable disease" as a call to get really clear on my physical needs because I believe that health care is self-care, and self-care is self-love. Acting in self-love communicates a powerful message to the Universe that rather than passively accepting the diagnosis, I will actively create the most powerful path of healing. But I had to figure out what that meant to me. MS is notorious for being specific to each individual, so the course of healing that works for me is the only one I need. Committing to self-love and to listening to my own biofeedback blocked out the fear-based noise that surrounds our medical system. (Wow, suddenly sleeping eight hours and cooking kale seems super important. Am I right?!)

Whatever it is we're dealing with in our personal lives, consider that it comes to help us know our soul more. Let our daily rituals, these self-care actions, be the physical expression of that soul knowledge.

4. I say 'I love you' often, and mean it
It's always a good time to say, I love you. The Universe can throw us for a loop at any moment. Never did I comprehend that more than when I was in a hospital bed calling friends to tell them that I was being tested for multiple sclerosis. Choking out words, fighting back tears, and so thankful for their love and support. I was so grateful for the ability to tell them how much their love meant to me. That might have not been the case, had I had a stroke or a car accident. We don't know the moment when our life will change forever, so say I love you. You'll never regret it.

These four concepts are no longer just theories; they are spiritual truths recognized in mind, body and soul. And for that, I am truly grateful.

Mary Joan Cunningham is a mediation guide and wellness coach working with those who have received life-altering diagnoses to unlock their highest potential. For more, visit