All posts by playdoh

things are interesting from a distance

i think i wrote about my thought stream pitching me things to worry about whilst I was laying in bed my first week or so of recovery. It was interesting to meet those thoughts with curiosity (actually, only barely curiosity) instead of fear/worry/panic/looking for how to solve it as quickly as possible…. In David Hawkins’ book “Letting Go” he talks about thoughts being like baited fish hooks, and during those episodes, for perhaps the first time in my life, i wasn’t biting. I liked it.

Now that I’m completely off the pain meds, I’m having a different experience. This one is more about emotionality welling up in me, telling me I’m sad. I think this usually sets off a ‘why am I sad?’ mental track nitpicking my life for little bits of ‘wrong.’ I’ve been working on addressing it more like i address pain – moving toward it with equanimity, and these last couple of days it’s really starting to work. When it comes up, I just say, “ok” and try to sit with it. It barely lasts 30 seconds. I expected to be able to sit in my scenic mental Adirondack chairs and reassure the sadness, but it never makes it back to the porch. I’ve called its bluff, you see, and it disappears.

These two extremely new and welcome approaches to the mental dissatisfaction that has periodically hooked me and made me wish ‘everything’ was ‘different’ are really pleasant. They coexist with a reckoning which i think i also wrote about (but here I am writing again) of accepting myself as I am.

Everyone exhorts the “stem cell way of being” – about flexibility and adaptability, but once assigned, it’s Really Important that cells take on the tasks of their function and not keep trying to be flexible. In fact, unless they take on the duties of the new kind of cell, stem cells are no help at all. I feel that there are millions of us so bright and happy and eager to help, we’re just like stem cells, wanting to contribute to the good but still in this undifferentiated state. This, i believe, is the Super App: connecting all of the well-intentioned but clueless people in the world (myself included) into clear areas of differentiation where we can use our natural and acquired skills to contribute to the whole in meaningful and effective ways.

But, back to me. And this may be a repeat. But, I think I am a liver cell. I think I’ve always wanted to be a heart cell because the heart is so darned cool, but I’ve finally got that I’ve got to focus on the skills and functions that flow out naturally from me and quit always comparing myself to some fancier set of traits that I could have (if only I was someone else). My predilection to being Disappointment Panda has me think I’m part of the metabolic cleansing process, and so, liver cell it is. And, finally, like that high school kid that’s been ashamed of his parents, I finally see the value of the truth of my situation and seem to be (finally) backing off my visions of greener elsewhere’s. And here’s the rub: it *sounds like* capitulation, like resigning myself to something less than my wildest dreams (which proved perhaps a little unrealistic). But it *feels like* freedom. And the rusty bike on the front porch really only needs a brillo cleaning and a new seat.. all of these things that weren’t good enough (to match my perhaps unrealistic wildest dreams) suddenly are quite lovely, thank you.  and opportunities for me to share my gifts come around from time to time instead of me looking out the window at an empty road…

I guess what I’m saying is that identifying with my own field of being as opposed to the constant attempts at management of the details of being, is opening up a new way of being and it feels, finally, like home.

aren’t I quaint

See what I did there? my last post I got all “i’m in control of this, and i will continuing to exert more control” which, needless to say, got summarily unplugged by my body within moments. It’s funny to me that I forget something so very often that I am pretty much constantly trying to remember. Me, self-proclaimed “slowing down” advocate deciding to jump in and schedule my recovery as if it were a pre-frontal cortex-driven show. It’s not.

My surgery went marvelously well, and I’ve experienced far less pain than I anticipated. That’s kindof ironic because I figured the best thing I could do with pain would be to blog about the experience, since it’s one thing to talk about pain while you’re not in it and another thing completely from the center of it. I haven’t had much in the center of it. Which is good, of course, but now bringing up the muddier ground of ‘sortof pain’ and discomfort and the general muck, physical and psychological, of illness.

Turns out this is a pretty broad and important topic, too. Me talking about pain is easier than me talking about the general muck. And each of our general muck will be different, just like the experience of pain on any level will be differently interpreted by different bodies or even the same body in different ways at different times. Life is dynamic. All the time. Relentless like that.

So while I’ve not had much intense pain, I am convelesing. I have short times awake. I have baby exercises that are super hard for me. I have to face my inner whiner or critic more often. But I also have more time to pray, to contemplate and appreciate life itself, to be in stillness. But, also, my family is going a little stir-crazy.

So, not wanting to leave me alone, everyone has largely stayed home and much like the last weeks of summer vacation, people are dying for something to do. and sometimes that brings up their own inner muck. And sometimes they throw it at each other.

The nice thing about having so much time to practice stilless is that when the storms have been brewing I’ve been able to sit in the stillness as a practice. Tense emotions about the house can be a trigger, and today I very happily stayed in the practice more than once. and once I even got to defuse a situation. These are the gifts stillness can bring when we’re fully present to it.

All of the muck is discomfort. Wanting the world to prove something to us. wanting validation and excitement as if we’re entitled to it. I really started my day with a bunch of scheduling frustrations, a phone dying, the wrong thing ordered, etc… and I started to get this interesting combination of angry and victimized and exasperated. and then it was time to do my exercises. and I realized, life comes at us in ups and downs all the time and we’re not “entitled” to any smooth ride or anything else. And so all of those frustrations became silly, and once silly I could relate to them in a different (not defensive) way. and I could see that i was defending some picture of a day wherein everything just clipped along. those days happen. but so do other days and ‘other days’ have their value too, and since i literally have nothing to do but heal, why on earth would i get upset about a bunch of stuff i can’t change? I’ll return the mis-ordered cane when it comes. eventually, i’ll get the offsite PT. But the chemicals I release when I get upset are not going to help my healing, nor the situation. and thus, i could see what I was defending, release it, and move on with curiosity about the day.

Oddly enough, it really came in handy. honoring my morning lesson let me exercise it 2 or 3 times throughout the day. exercise builds mastery. And I’m reminded of the part in The Presence Process where he says, Happiness comes not from an ordered life but from the ability to embrace all of life – the good and the bad – with a sense of readiness, wholeness.

Because I don’t want to win anything anymore. I don’t want to be right by anyone else’s assessment. I want to meet the moment in the moment with the fullness of my resources as an agent of evolution. I want to sew seeds of life and wholeness, “enoughness” and curiosity about what life can be like.

My old habits (for example, the way my body compensated for my hip) did their best to provide me escape from pain. But when I begin to feel the pain, embrace it, invite it in, everything changes (like for example the pain itself) I don’t have to escape anything – and that is a much more enjoyable way to life, even when there is pain.

there is nothing wrong here…

so often the thought train is trying to convince us of 1,000 different problems, all needing to be fixed, most impossible. It’s a lot of stress. it’s a lot of strain. J. Krishnamurti said something like: the difference between us is that I’m ok with what’s going on.

Most of the stories the mind gets caught up in are patently false. Ramblings, really. SAT Prep tests. just checking the emergency thought system…

of course, the brain releases the same chemicals for a real tiger and an imagined tiger. so all those stress hormones of all of the pretend problems my mind is pitching me for contemplation – – totally unnecessary.

and the great thing about hip replacement is that you can slow. way. down. to notice that stuff. answer every question for the next several weeks with some variation on : how can i release tension and listen to the body. That is a luxury. And, what’s more, it’s more true than any of those thoughts passing through.

So regardless of what comes up, pain or mental meandering, I’ve got this window of time to press the reset button via going deeper into the body and getting curious and relaxed. The relaxation may be enabled by the percoset at this point, but the direction of the recovery is certain. I’m not wnting to get back to anything, i’m moving forward into a deeper level of stability, listening, strength and connection. I’m not sure what it looks like. I suck at a lot of my exercises. Then i relax. My mind pitched me “you’ve wasted your life and everything you think you know is a lie” today. it was almost comical. because the great thing about having evolution be your only goal, recognition of Mother Everywhere – I can be like, sure! tell me about this new way! I don’t need to be ruled by my opinions of the past!” Definitely part of the Paul Selig current work. And probably part percoset, too. But really valid stuff. And the answer is always the same. Relax. What’s New?

I’ve moved from a tablet every 4 hours to one every 5. I’d like to get to 6 tomorrow and 8 by friday. And my hourly “get up and move” can be stronger now. Holding my exercises a little longer, putting more weight on my leg when i walk. Walking that line between discomfort and pain. Moving with intention for optimal execution, not just the limited range that used to be available. Being willing (delighted) to break past the old pattern and embrace the face that to my mind I have a lot of healing to do, but to my hip – well, there’s also a lot of healing to do – but it is healing that yeilds improvement. That’s a big deal to me. I’m sortof used to pain being flare-up then returning to the regular flawed options. This time, I have the real opportunity to heal for improved experience. that’s exciting.

day four

These people have hip replacement surgery down to an art. Four days ago I got up early, met some lovely people who prepped me and woke up feeling good. The change in the joint is complete and immediate, and while surgery and surgical things have their discomfort, life was good. I was willing/am willing to experience whatever the next step is towards wellness, and i know interim steps can be extremly diorienting, but all in the name of wellness and so if anything, I am willing.

Luckily, I have not had to endure much. I had lots of cautionary tales to stay ahead of the pain meds and so I did. because: 4 days. and in those four days the worst of my recovery has been the headache/nausea/disorientation of the pain pills. so, yeah. not too bad but nothing i want to extend.

I had a wonderful PT come to the house today. no nonsense. nice. constructive. instructive. I mean, it made me cry by the end, but in a good way.

in a good way because i just watched this singing guy thing about ‘frustration is a step in learning to do something.’ framed frustration in a positive light, so i’m grateful to have heard that. and so recently. i should post it but i think it’s an ‘in program’ thing. anyway

what I did realize with this great PT visit is that it is time for me to apply my own focus and consciousness to the quality of my recovery. not just endure it gracefully. have a positive attitude. Hope for the best. ‘do my best’

i’ve gotta get all tai-chi on it’s ass. I’ve been apprehensive about trying to apply what i’ve learned about standing over the last year. i’m afraid i’ll push something the wrong way. i’m trying to feel around and everything feels ‘maybe’ and i think “well, that’s a lot of fear”

interesting that that fear has lived in that quadrant of my body for so long, so insecure, trying so hard, compensating in myriad ways, but simply not having a solid, powerful foundation.

Isn’t it time to grow one?

and i’m very excited about the prospect of growing one – a solid foundation. I have them in other quadrants of my life, but fully embodying this vessel and interacting with the world from a place of mutual fullness? Yes, this recovery obviously has the potential to be the adventure of a lifetime.

I am being remarkably selfish. In large and small ways. because: 4 days. This bit has attributes that might stick around a bit longer, though.

Because the joint damage isn’t bilateral, chances are there was an event that began the decline. my money is on a skiing accident in 1998 – a day trip i didn’t want to go on, got talked into. It’s nice because I see the flaw – the doing what every cell of my body was saying ‘no’ to. why on earth would i do that? to make someone else happy (didn’t work. wasn’t worth it. never is). I release inauthentic action for some noble goal. it’s all expressing what and who I am from here on out.

There will be casualties. there always are (ask my old left hip!) but life is full of cycles of birth and rebirth and within it death and more death. Dying to the old. Being born into the now. again. and again. and again.

from the inside

I’m getting up in 6 hours to have the surgery so I’ll probably be offline for a while, although I really want to write about pain while i am in it. It’s easy to reflect on pain and forget things (childbirth, anyone?) but in order for me to feel authentic in my conversations about pain I would like to be very present to the realities of it. All of my strategies will be tested, as they should be, and perhaps I will come up with more and perhaps some will prove themselves worthless. Sometimes no strategies work and all we can hope for us endurance. In any case, I’d like to document and share it.

Things got a little testy at dinner tonight – I imagine that while I am not overtly or intellectually scared, there’s an anticipation at work just below the obvious. Probably Tucker and the kids have their own versions of it.  Thankfully, teammates’ parents and my mom and sister will be keeping them with their regular activies regardless of how I am feeling, and I am profoundly grateful.

I want to write about the grand cosmic love of which we are all expressions, but honestly I’m tired. And maybe today is not the day. I know tomorrow is, though. Because the surrender to this grand cosmic love is to accept whatever outcomes unfold because we are life itself unfolding. I’m square with whatever happens. I expect it will be uneventful – great surgeon, great process, plenty of success stories, but if it isn’t I’m at peace with that, too. My dear friend went in for surgery 11 years ago and has been in a wheelchair ever since. Her grace and value are so apparent to me that the condition of her body is, while being very difficult for her I am sure, just part of the grand mystery.

I’m surrendered to the mystery. If something goes wrong I might write 1,000 posts about my frustration with it, but I am not in control. and I don’t need to be. I’m just another facet of life expressing itself. Lucky me.


The countdown begins

2 days to hip replacement. in fact, 2 days from right now (48 hours at least) I should be home beginning my recovery. Amazing.

One of the biggest struggles since becoming ill is maintaining a sense of self worth without the evidence of accomplishment. From time to time (when I’m feeling better) I think “Man, i am a hypochondriac”  and inevitably drive myself to do something that reminds me that, no, indeed, my best efforts are thwarted by real physical limitations and when I test them, they bite.

Other times I think, “I’m really just lazy.” and that perhaps I brought disease upon myself to facilitate my inherent laziness, or I use it as an excuse when I could be doing more (see above) and various other things…

such are the insidious workings of a mind trained by modern culture. Doing, accomplishing, achieving, these are the important things of the world; all this stillness and quiet and rest, what a sad excuse for a life. And I’m obviously taking advantage of my beleagured husband.

I have come a long way in recognizing and honoring my authentic energy levels. I’m learning to listen to my body and hear what it needs, and yet still sometimes I ignore it (because homemade truffle mac and cheese brings me comfort before it inflames my muscles; or, even more often, the voices of perceived authority tell me I really *should* be doing *something*)… the mental game is infinitely more difficult than the physical game.

I know that “being” is a far more profound practice than “doing” and yet still I buck it. Compared to my perception of the average American, I think I’m about 85% of the way there. Compared to a truly embodied spirit in the present moment, I’m about .005% of the way. I shudder to think where I’d be had my body not begun taking over calling the shots.

I often wonder – I actually often wonder who I would be had I not gotten sick. Whomever it would be, even if I’d achieved great professional success I am certain I would not be able to sit in peace as often as I can today. I’m consistently surprised at how stillness and spiritual practice works practical miracles.

An enormous part of my ability to be at peace with myself, with my body, with my life comes from the container created for me and with me by my husband. Patience was not my strong suit, but Tucker is so supremely patient it couldn’t help but rub off. I was told daily in my childhood that no one would ever love me and that anyone who said they did was pretending. Tucker’s love for me was so unpretentious and consistent and thorough that it didn’t take long for the depth of his simplicity to untangle the knots I’d been living under. OK, maybe it did take a long time for me to untie the knots, but it didn’t take long to appreciate and enjoy someone who actually loved me the way I was every. single. day. That’s the gift of my life – I never imagined it was truly possible.

And how do I repay him? He gets all of the responsibility for the nuts and bolts of keeping our family afloat (and abroad and all kinds of other wonderful things). I have so much guilt and shame over this, sometimes it makes me cry.

And then I remember: the universe is committed to my flourishing, and his. He manages the nuts and bolts marvelously well and I bring the whipped cream and cherries. Without my slowing down and diet and lifestyle practices, he could easily have the physical ailments that plagued his father’s family. I don’t get to keep score, and any attempts I make at it are by their very nature devoid of context and understanding the larger picture. They are the ramblings of an indoctrinated mind always looking to condemn and diminish.

These internal struggles have been a significant part of this last decade. I don’t know what is going to happen next, but I am certain that the voice that wants things to be different than they are is misguided. The small and still quiet part of myself that recognizes the beauty of the divine play, it’s tenderness and miraculous gifts is the part I pledge allegiance to, the part I want to know better. I’ve known that other jackass all my life, and tempting as it is to condemn myself, that’s another aspect of me I wrote about yesterday – being willing to die so that something new, something pure, and something unencumbered by the past can come to life.

Willing to Die

OK, i get that this is a totally overly dramatic sounding title, but let’s rein that in a little just for today. I’m having major surgery in 3 days, although it has remarkably low risk of death considering they go in with an actual saw. Anyhow…

One of the things that doesn’t get talked about much in the feel-good world of growth and renewal is that in order to authentically grow and renew, what we used to be has to die. It’s this way all over the natural world. the seed has to die to release the sprout, the caterpillar has to die to become the butterfly, and I have to die to who I have been to truly become who I might be.

Is it a literal death? To some degree I think it is. In this case, the death of a certain amount of bone and soft tissue in order for a substitute and new tissue to take root. But more importantly is the metaphorical death of the foundational misnomers that allowed such an important part of my structure to be so misshapen, misinformed and inflamed.

I’ve probably written about this a ton, but I rarely go back so I really don’t know. But, I’ve been operating under some really restrictive foundational beliefs about me needing to be someone other than I am, some modified version of myself that was, for example, kinder to people who inflict core wounds in my life. That it is my responsibility to be kind to them, regardless of how they treat me (or my perceptions of it). That there is something wrong with me at a core level – and I spent decades trying to modify myself and wondering why it just wouldn’t take. what was wrong with me? Trying too hard. Giving up my truth to try (unsuccessfully) to make other people be ok with me. Yes, I can die to that. My pleasure.

I wonder who i might have become without the neurosis of my development, but no matter. I’m here now, finally. I’m fully on board with being myself. I’ll never know what’s the gift within until i quit trying to change the wrapping.

I’ve been thinking a lot about cell differentiation. There’s been a nice swell of encouraging a “stem cell way of being” which I love – stem cells can turn into any kind of cell (as I understand it) a liver cell, a heart cell, a blood cell… But, once it becomes, say a liver cell, there is really no point in yelling at it for not being a heart cell. Yes, heart cells may be extra specially important and delicious and liver cells are just taking out the trash, dude, taking out the trash is wildly important! And without the liver doing its thing, that heart cell is going to die an untimely death. All because the liver cell was true to itself instead of neglecting to take out the trash in its desperate attempt to be the cleaner, purer heart cell.

I am a liver cell. I call shit out. I am Disappointment Panda (from ‘the subtle art of not giving a fuck’). I am good at it. There are plenty of things I’m not so great at, too, I get that. And, while I would love to just go around being that very flexible and resilient stem cell, without it taking on a role in the body, it’s not as helpful as it might sound.

I am finally willing to die to the person that constantly strove to be an improved version of myself, and take on a new life in fully inhabiting the self that I am. Any improvements that come will be the natural unfolding of evolution within me, not via an agenda of my mind to make me more acceptable to anyone including myself. I’ve always been pretty independent and I think plenty of people would be surprised that this inner torment has been going on for so many years (and actually, i’ve been unknotting this particular cluster since the onset of this disease). So many diseases are invisible. So much torment goes unnoticed. But I know I was trying to re-make myself at a core level because my family of origin’s story about me is that I’ve got a “viscious underbelly” and Lord knows I didn’t want to have any viscious parts! And I literally got to destroying myself to try to appease them.

Uhm, nope. No more.

I’m sorry, dear left hip, that I systematically dismantled you. And aren’t we humbled that through the genius and brilliance of our flawed civilization, a skilled individual can go in and clean us up in a matter of moments. I just want to make sure that the part of me that would do such a thing to myself dies on that table. And that this new hip carries me forward in a healthy and balanced way as a whole and balanced person, to serve  (gently and non-prescriptively) and add to more ease and wholeness and acceptance in each other and the world.

America the Beautiful

I struggle with the political climate of the world right now. I struggle with war, traffiking, exploitation, marginalization and systemic oppression. What a privilege. What a privilege to have choice. To see these things and believe that they don’t need to be a part of life and relationship. The truth is for an enormous portion of human civilization, crazy, narcissistic, indulgent assholes have been in charge by force. Then, just for this little glimpse of the last few hundred years, every once in a while a statesman showed up, caring for others in addition to or even (gasp) above his own interest (and even more recently above *her* own interests, another exceptional development). It’s certainly not a style of governance that has been on a constant trajectory towards equality and equity but it certainly is a start, and even amidst the ebbs and flows of just and noble governance, we have the choice to keep the faith and put in the work to build the world we want. That’s a really big deal.

I’m super lucky right now in that I can see all of the tumult of the outside world within myself and I have the time and inclination to address it. To address and recontextualize, to face down the inner demons and nurture the macro-self, the part of me connected to all of life, every one of my fellow beings. This is probably a life-long endeavor, ever unraveling deeper layers of dysfunction and offering opportunities for equanimity and peace. I desperately wanted to “fix” it, get rid of my bad parts and become some shining beacon of light. I searched for “the answer” and tried to implement more “answers” than you could shake a proverbial stick at, if you had one. I’m happy to be off of that particular merry-go-round. It was very popular with the judgy, strident part of myself that I’m prefering to relegate to the back seat.

I had a situation a few weeks ago that brought out some Kali energy. Kali. She is a bamf. She literally eats demons in a single bite. Unless she feels like making it several slow painful bites. Totally up to her.

She is an aspect of the goddess that comes out in the cosmology when things are profoundly out of alignment with truth. She is *really* into truth. and she is ruthless. and, in her ruthlessness she rebalances the world. But to your average observer, she’s a maniacal nut-job. Good thing we’re not average observers.

Kali is responsible for several key re-balancings of history according to the accounts of Hindu cosmology I’ve read (there are so many versions!). And when she’s eaten all of the demons and she’s on a rampage and it’s time to stop, Shiva himself lays down at her feet. He *is* truth, and so she cannot rampage on or past him. When he makes himself vulnerable to her, the rampage ends and the world goes on in it’s renewed balance.

Imagine if Kali took other people’s opinions of her behavior personally. “That’s not very goddess-like, missy” or “a real goddess would’ve found a non-violent way to end this madness” or “you should leave the heavy lifting to the gods” (spoiler alert: the gods already lost, that’s why Kali manifested). According to legend, without her and her wholehearted badassery, the demons would be completely in charge of this and every other realm. But, if she doubted herself, if she got caught up in how she was being perceived – she couldn’t change her shoes, much less restore balance to the world.

And so we move on, sometimes we are Kali and sometimes we are eaten by her. But, when the shit gets crazy, there’s a little part of me that knows that her energy cannot be stopped, that it comes when it’s needed, and that she is part of a strength and love that nothing can subdue, no matter how crazy, how powerful or how sentimental.

It’s going to be interesting…

let’s talk about pain, pt2

That meditation CD that made me go to sleep (god bless it) also first demonstrated the idea of getting curious about pain. Watching it. Feeling it and noticing if it changes, how it presents. This was a very useful practice as well. Nearly a decade later I would learn from the Feminine Power course to go further and inquire from the pain into age, size and origin – this works with emotional pain as well as physical pain. It can be transformative. But it’s not always possible. Sometimes the pain is simply too distracting to find the part of yourself that’s curious, and sometimes I’m just tucked away in a corner of my psyche rocking myself back and forth to endure it.

But, even then I’ve learned to apply mantra to the pain. At first, for me it was the Pilgrim’s Prayer (Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me) but it changes. I did Ashaya’s Ascension and use those phrases sometimes. Also, the statements in Paul Selig’s work get a lot of play when i am in that state. And it’s helpful. It gives me something to do other than just be in agony. It keeps agony company. Speaking of which…

About 5 years ago I started “The Presence Process” which is very powerful and transformative in many ways. Something in this process had me begin a practice of visualizing a porch close to the one when I lived at “camp” (imagine a beautiful porch overlooking water and foliage and general splendor, with a couple of Adirondack chairs. This process (and i’m pretty sure it’s not part of the actual instructions) had me inviting my pain to come back to the porch with me and have a seat. I’d offer it lemonade. But mostly we’d sit. Coexisting, looking at something beautiful. Sometimes I’d get insight into the pain and sometimes I wouldn’t, but separating myself from the pain, giving it respect and attempting to develop mutual equanimity through nature has been a very powerful tool for me, too.

Recently, I heard a story about Swami P, founder of the Vedanta Society of SoCal. For some reason he had to undergo surgery without anesthesia. He remembered All Is Brahma, and thereby pain is Brahma, too. He approached the pain as Brahma and, well, as the story goes his being was so still through the surgery they thought he died and he woke up with a sheet over his face. But the moral of the story to ME is just remembering this pain is part of God and approaching it thusly. This makes an enormous difference in my experience of the pain whenever, of course, i can remember to use it.

These are the big strategies, but I’m going to explore this more through these days that I can anticipate will have the practical world of surgery coming up…

let’s talk about pain; part 1

I avoided pain as much as the next guy. I mean, pain is pain, right? And we’re wired to avoid it. We’re wired to at the very least take it as a signal to change something, and preferably as quickly as possible. Pain is basically universally considered to be a drag. And I can’t disagree. And yet,

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

This was a distinction I had never considered, having largely considered Pain and Suffering the same thing. They’re not. Not by a longshot. Now, pain can really suck and enduring it can very often involve a whole lot of suffering even when we’re completely convinced that pain and suffering are different. Today I had a lot of pain and a lot of suffering. But, every time i remembered they are not the same and moved into curiosity and my variety of other strategies to listen into pain, my experience of it changed completely, if only temporarily. And off the cart I would fall. And back into the cart… well, once I noticed I was off the cart I didn’t have to climb, I was lifted. Noticing was all that was necessary – noticing and deciding to put it into a feeling state. The feeling state then lifted the whole endeavor.

But I am, like most of my species, distracted and restless and so it wouldn’t necessarily last long. So, remembering is the trick.

When my body first went into crisis I think 9 years ago, it really caught me by surprise. I used to have a candy dish full of advil on my desk. There was no pain advil (or a few) couldn’t solve. Nothing could touch the constant pain and it was as disorienting and confusing as it was uncomfortable. Trying to watch funny movies, trying to distract myself from the constant. active. pain. – reading often aggravated it and added a headache, but I was reading as much as I could. And desperately trying to meditate it away. About 60 days in, I got diagnosed with RA and found and read Conquering Arthritis which was amazing for me on two levels: 1) She introduced me to Perelandra’s Medical Assistance Program and 2) she had a set of meditation tapes that I hated so much, i would zone out and fall asleep – sleep that had eluded me for months. so, while i hated them, i loved them. they gave me reliable sleep when literally nothing else could. what a godsend.

So, sleep started, and then my Perelandra book came and I started MAP. 5 days later, the pain dropped down and was just achiness. I’ve been doing MAP regularly since then and consider it one of the most important parts of my life. So, yeah, you might want to google Perelandra and pick up the “MAP: Medical Assistance Program” book. Or that might be a little off the deep end for you… no matter. It marked the end of my pain not only because it did, thankfully, literally stop it (along with the fish oil finally kicking in (it can take weeks) and just the right confluence of events) but it also recontextualized pain as a communication tool. This is a principle that changed my life.

I hope I feel good enough to write the next chapter of my journey with pain tomorrow, but right now, i’m needing to stop…