Pain and Life

August 11, 2012

I have written about the pain and hard work of becoming, and I have written a protocol for living with and managing my pain (See Elder Blossoms). What I have not addressed is a much larger dimension of my experience.  It is what I do with my time.

Here is the kicker.  My current lifestyle is my dream lifestyle, even my plan for retirement.  The only part I did not plan or desire is the pain.  Yet it seems the pain has forced the lifestyle.  I can tell you that my vision of retirement includes the following: working with people and the healing arts twelve or so hours a week, teaching herbal medicine and spending time making herbal medicine, allowing hours each day for athletics and hot tubbing at the gym, receiving massage and chiropractic treatments each week, taking naps, spending quality time with pets and neighbors, eating well, surrounding myself with positive minded folks who like to laugh, meditating as a way of life rather than as an event in the day, moving slowly between activities and keeping everything very simple.  Well, I am here to tell you that I have what I have asked for.

Right now I am just listening to my body.  Body wisdom rules.

P.S.  Earlier pain of 8.5 is down to 4ish and I am sitting to write this post.  Yay!

Breath as Healing Technique

Today as I drew breath down into my belly, it filled up almost all the space inside me, but I paused and then breathed in a little more and my front and back were separated from one another as the space between expanded.  A full breath cycle swept exhale and inhale along the undersides of my rib cage and massaged the tissues in front of my spine.  Breath gently soothed all the tender places inside and alongside my spine, and the lightning strike of disc contacting nerve became more like strong river flowing.  “Breath sweeps mind”, I guess.

Sometimes I feel my mother.  I don’t mean I feel like her.  I feel her, in my body.  For instance, when I swim.  When my body rolls side to side, raising my arms from the water like knife blades to cut the water and push me forward, my mind’s eye sees the graceful arc of her arm and the turn of her body bringing her white rubber swim cap up and down, up and down, the kind with the chin strap.  I feel my arms are hers, and I wish I had one of those swim caps.

Venturing back …

Venturing back to work, cautiously, after a term of disability.  Taking one step at a time, literally, going slowly along with single pointed focus.  Grateful to to the pain that will not allow mindless movement?  I suppose yes.  Most grateful for the practices I have learned to heal myself , including those which teach me to accommodate my experience in every moment, no matter what it is.

For now, I am practicing what I preach, and we will see how that goes.  So far, so good.

Anger

I became so angry yesterday that my heart beat hard in my chest and when relief did not come it moved into the pit of my stomach and beat as a fist.  It was very painful, and the residual chemistry of it awoke me in the night with illness in my stomach, neck and head. 

So I have contemplated what took control, and exerted such power over me that I couldn’t even soothe myself in the moment to prevent the harmful after effects.  My anger arose and I suppressed it, but by what force?  And to what end? 

I have a rich experience with shame and self righteousness, so when I witness them in others, I feel I can’t bear the pain that I know so well. Even if it is another’s pain, it is mine as well.  Unable to find my authentic voice in the moment, and committed to refraining until I do, I am stifled, thus harm is not averted.  I make an attempt or two to voice, but cannot find my reason.  It is hot inside my head.

There is a sword, Manjushri’s sword of wisdom, that slices both ways. If you wield it to cut the head from someone’s  illusion,  be prepared to have the head cut off  your own.  Separation between the two of you is the illusion; the sword’s cut dispels the illusion of duality.  Accuracy is required with a sword.

In the aftermath, compassion,  and mindfulness of the breeze, the orange sunset, the tiredness in my body – gratitude and another turn on the wheel of dharma.

You know the times I love? They are the times, with loved ones, when we put aside our fear together – it  feels so playful.  Really, fear and play don’t happen so well together, do they?  They are not fair to one another.  Fear will always extinguish play, and play will do the same to fear.  But fear, wow, what a powerful influence.  And play, well, it takes a lot of heart.

Attachment

Wow, what a loaded word, it turns out – attachment.  From before birth, human beings attach to that which we perceive to be directly responsible for our survival, but not only survival.  That is just the first task.

Attachment is one of those things, like the ego, that we cannot live without yet sometimes cannot live with it either.  A case of poison and wisdom in the same pill.  So therapeutically, only positive psychology will do.  Strengthen strengths and look for their wisdom.  Allow seeds of doubt to lie still for awhile. 

See what arises, such as awareness of how well one takes care of ones own needs, or at least how prevalent are the opportunities, which have the potential to be missed.  Apparently when we “aren’t hung up on getting other people to see or support them (our needs)”, we can focus on other needs (Cori, J L. (2010).

For adults, or young people, with disordered attachments, one key may be to discover one’s own capabilities and capacities for self care.  I looked into the mirror one day and said, “I love you and I will take care of you.” Then I had to follow up, with continual kindness to myself and continual deep looking in the mirror of life to find the mother I had been seeking.  I found her inside.

Judge Not

Feb. 15

Today in large group process, a class in which I participate at Naropa University, many of the thirty six group members expressed concerns, naming anxiety, fear, and thus resistance, as barriers to open expression of feelings and experiences within the group.  Emotional safety within a group such as this largely depends on one’s beliefs about how they will be held in the minds of the others present.  Will they be judged or criticized?  More importantly to some, will they be heard and understood? 

The need to be heard and respected when we speak from our hearts is common to all of us, I believe.  It occurred to me today that when others judge me for what I have spoken, the only true impact is when it compounds self judgment.  If I do not judge myself, no problem. And how could I point at someone else to judge them, if I do not judge myself?  The contemplation gives deeper meaning to two sayings which come to mind: “It takes one to know one.” and “Judge not, that you be not judged.” 

I think there is great value in the ability to be critical, to offer insight to others through critical thought, without judgment.  Differing viewpoints can collide and produce brilliance and clarity for their speakers and listeners when allowed to do so in a space free from personal judgment.  Is this possible?  Have you ever experienced such conflict, uncoupled from trauma and personal prejudice?  If not, I wonder why.  I think it offers the highest form of education and a view of creation – the appearance of some thing that is the direct result of opposing forces colliding, yet is none of those forces, but  is something altogether new.  Hope, possibility and potentiality all reside here.  Maybe nothing else is happening, except for that, in every moment and at the subtlest levels.  Our control is minimal, if any.  What do you think?