INSTRUCTIVE

First, the title is tongue-in-cheek.

And, I wanted to say that I don’t blog everyday. I blog when I think I have something to say, and I hope that it will be read. I very much appreciate those who follow. Thank you.

So, back to ‘Instructive’. Yesterday, I had to go to the doctor to have a lesion removed from below my right shoulderblade. I had to laugh, even the healthcare provider winced. It was a bit more than what they expected. She kept asking me if I was ok, and was I doing ok. I laughed and said, “Oh gosh, you’re killing me, you’re killing me” with dramatic effect (she had a nursing student in with us – so that made it more fun!) but all went well.

Two things occurred to me, and I shared them with my healthcare provider: 1) When you have sciatic pain from your hip to your toes every single day and have had for the past 17 years, pain is relative. It has to hit higher on the scale than what I already have for me to consider or bother with it. 2) My meditation is paying off in many expected and unexpected ways. I truly did not feel any pain even after the local wore off completely, I had to remind myself that I had sutures and to stop activities that pulled on them.

I began experimenting with a pain meditation just for situations like this not long ago. I took an A&P II class to refresh my perspective on the human body structure and then proceeded with the classes in pain meditation. For me, they are excellent help and I recommend trying that before you reach for pills. Not saying there is never a time to take pain medication. I do take pain medication. My first effort though is meditation. Meditation has side effects, but they are good ones – they carry over into everyday situations and broaden your perspective. If you practice regularly, you’ll find you are much less reactive, your problem solving skills broaden and your ability to assess your environment/situations heightens. As well, I find I am much less reactive to pain. When I experience it, the first place my mind goes (now) is to the sensation’s relationship to my body. I get a visual and the sensation seems to fade. Pills, not so lucky with those side effects and often cumulative and long term effects are not known. The type of drugs used for chronic pain were never really intended for that use and they won’t help your emotional control or sensation interpretation at all.

The more I practice, the more I seem to experience happiness NOT dependent on circumstance; the more ease I feel in my own skin. It isn’t up and down mood shifting. It’s a very pleasant, persistent steadiness.

My approach (this is the instructive part) was to refresh my knowledge of the human body. I think this is good for everyone, whether you are in the healthcare field or not. Everyone should have a realistic idea of how his/her own body is put together. You would not believe how that information can change how you cope with the myriad conditions that body can present. For me, when something feels painful, because of practicing, I get an immediate visual of my body and the part or process currently experiencing pain. The pain doesn’t go away by magic, but I seem to be apart from it. I seem able to understand it and refrain from absorbing it emotionally and getting stuck in it. I do feel it. It’s not a pleasant feeling. I don’t resist, lie to myself, deny, I just know PERIOD. I just know the sensation and I don’t continue on it. I commit to the radical acceptance of it and go on.

If you try this and it doesn’t work for you, what does it mean? Not a thing. No, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing it wrong, you might want to ask someone who has experience to help you. But, it doesn’t mean that you are failing; that your pain isn’t real; or that you aren’t cooperating, as we can sometimes hear from the medical community and other maybe well-intentioned but ill-informed observers. One cure doesn’t fix everybody. And, meditation is not a cure. It’s a help, an assist that I have found works for me beyond my physical circumstances. My aim in sharing is always directed at telling the story of what has helped in my situation, not proselytizing. If we put our story out there and the things that have been positive and constructive for us, you never know who might be saved a few of the more painful/aggravating steps to making things better. Keep sharing. Thanks for reading. Peace to you, Lilie

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ASSETS

In coming out of my mental slumber, or on the awakening part, of my journey (laughing), I finally found the good sense to review, beginning with assets. What/who in my life was helpful to me, who/what was I helpful to? I put into practice skills I developed through meditation, taking inventory without judgment was a start. This, more than other skills, may ‘unstick’ you, move you forward in ways you never considered.

Rather than annoyance or anger at situations and folks, I assessed. If you have people close to you: relatives, partners, close relationships who aren’t (or haven’t been) supportive, don’t go to them for support. K-n-o-w that, and move on. You don’t necessarily have to confront or leave them. We all have strengths and limits. You – look to your strengths PERIOD. Refuse to rehearse old stories. Do what is skillful, helpful, useful.

Consider, first and foremost, you are your best emotional support. Learn how, get counseling, read, ask, research. Put together a plan that depends on you. The world does not alter, nor stop, because you have chronic pain/illness and you don’t want to be one. Family and friends are living, too. Situations exist and occur in their lives, too. No matter anyone’s commitment, love and support, they aren’t responsible for you. Consider that with chronic pain and illness may come the consequence of occasional self-indulgent thinking and behavior, you can change that. Do not act it out on those you love – well, on anyone. Again, assess, consider, change.

The more you are willing to find resources within yourself to meet your own needs, the more you are your own best comfort and, surprisingly, to others. You will find yourself connecting in ways that build and strengthen, endure and contribute. I found that gratitude thing, it gets stronger, as well.

May you have eyes to see, ears to hear. . the heart to change. Peace to you, Lilie.

ANGER


When you feel anger, don’t dismiss it or shame it. Acknowledge anger as the message it is. Emotions send messages, information that we need. Anger can tell us something needs to change; anger warns of injustice. Anger spurred such changes as important as the civil rights movement. Anger in the mind of someone skilled at its interpretation: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. So, we can practice being skilled, as well. When you feel it, realize it is a feeling, and that its message is that something needs to change, or to be addressed. Now, use your skillful mind to discern: what is your skillful, contributory approach? Practice, practice.

 

WEIGHING WORDS

When it comes to writing for my blog, I sometimes feel stymied – thinking about the subject that is my interest, well, everything that can (or should) be said, seems to have been.

Meditation is my interest, passion more likely.  And, often, I see that treated as the latest hip, slick and cool thing to do, or to claim one is involved in.  There are all kinds of challenges, retreats, spas, etc., all having the latest take on meditation and very, very expensive -guessing here that this would be the benchmark for how valuable it is – not to me.

Nothing wrong with making a living, but it does seem, to me, these days that every idea, every word that comes out of anyone’s mouth is fodder for a new enterprise.  The first consideration – how much can we charge, how much would people tolerate paying?  How and to whom do we market?  It sickens me.  I see meditation often marketed as an opportunity for greater prosperity – do this, this way and you’ll be a millionaire in a month.  Oh, please.

What about, learn to think, learn to think for yourself what your own thoughts truly are and feel better.  What if learning to think and know your own thoughts allowed you to be more at ease in yourself and in your relationships.  What if you had more of you, a deeper, more centered you in all areas of your life.  That’s the meditation I’m talking about.  I have no concern or intention to turn anyone into a millionaire. Billionaire is the target now, isn’t it?

It’s a simple process, a simple truth – doesn’t require a commitment to a lifelong guru, surrendering your will or identity to another person, which I AM NOT a fan of AT ALL.  For me, meditation was the open door.  It was my way to living a full, open life.  I had great difficulty coping with, let alone trying to conquer, chronic pain.  I didn’t want the current western medical model:  antidepressants, muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety drugs, etc.  I wanted a clear, strong, creative mind.  I didn’t want to watch $$ flying out the window pursuing every silly, snake oil idea out there.

I found meditation.  Practiced, studied, practiced, took classes online, went to classes, studied some more, practiced, read every book I could find and got results.  My results were surprising to me, initially.  The first, I realized I was experiencing moments of inner peace – I hadn’t had that before.  And, then stringing together, more and more spaces of time spent in true happiness – regardless of my current environment or situation.  I just felt enough, equal to the challenge, whatever it might be.  I lost my worry.  I became better at planning, but lost my worry.  I’m not looking for him, either. . .

Anxiety was the next to lose it’s grip.  Oh there still may be triggers, but they don’t get a hold anymore.  They are recognized for what they are, and seem to fade out.  How does that help chronic pain?  Well, my pain did not go away.  But, I have more energy and more ability to manage the pain.  It is there, I’m aware of it, I don’t deny it, but it’s just there period, that’s all.  It is a reality, just like having blue eyes – but you don’t spend all day thinking about your eyes.  I have more success planning and using my energy to its best effort.

I see so much potential for meditation – of course, there have been many cultures who have known this for thousands of years.  I want to see schools able to offer meditation – it’s good for any person, and I think would be excellent for the bullying problem – bullies and the bullied, alike.  I’m not teaching a system, a religion, or even a philosophy – My goal is to teach others what I have learned:  Your mind is your own, and the thoughts you hold are there because YOU thought them, and decided to keep them and make them your subject – it is that simple.  Learn to know your own mind.  Learn who you want to be.  Learn why you allow some thoughts to continue and whether that is useful to you, or not.  Learn that you can change at any moment, and then change again.

So, let’s weigh our words.  Let’s look at the profit in our words as the ‘prophet’ in our words first.  Weigh them in your mind, are they useful?  Are they helpful?  What feeling do they promote?  It’s up to you.  Thanks so much for reading.  Lilie

THE ZEN KOAN: GOOD NEWS/BAD NEWS

Many of us have heard some version of the Zen koan dealing with what constitutes good or bad news.  That has been a delight and a stronghold for me.   To me, news is news – the good and the bad, you must sort – and you will.
So, the news.  Since September, when I took the first of two serious falls, I have had trouble with my legs – extremely painful and limited in walking.  Normally, I have pain in my left leg and some trouble walking due to post-herpetic neuralgia of the L5-S1 nerve roots.  In March, I fell and broke my right leg.  It healed well.  When it healed, they wanted to take another look at my spine (I’ve also had two spinal surgeries – for a different problem), to make sure my fusion, and no other structures, had been damaged.  Then, we would form a plan as to how to deal with this increased pain and limitation.  It is good to know, no damage to structure.  It is a challenge to know that this is the result of the virus attacking another nerve root – this is now L4.   And, nothing can reverse this, at this time.
Among the choices, I have chosen to accept using a wheelchair at this time.  This way, I can still go on ‘walks’ and ‘hikes’ and camp-outs and all the things I love to do, without worrying about keeping up, and it’s such a good feeling to get out and not be isolated.  That’s the killer – the isolation.   I’m opting for a wheelchair, crutches and a scooter.  I am thankful that my insurance will help with some of this.  I am also thankful for incredibly gifted and compassionate healthcare workers and for those friends who stuck with me.  I know they have busy lives with challenges of all kinds of their own.  The visits, the calls, and the concern, keep you going – we all know that.  Not being excluded because you aren’t ‘the same’ anymore, keeps hope alive.
And in respect for honesty, that has happened to me and I’m being honest with myself about the grief and hurt it did cause and getting past it to the wonderful things that await.  It hurts to be rejected.  It hurts to find out those you thought friends, were otherwise.   Tell the truth, grieve it and realize what’s right in front of you.
I will have stronger arms, good thing – my orthopod once called me “Olive Oyl” lol!   I can’t be anything but happy.  It’s a door opening, a way around, a new chapter.  Zen koan:  Good or bad news?  Honey, it’s always going to be what you make it.
Again, thank you so much for all those who continue to visit though my posting is very erratic.  I enjoy your posts, your words and wisdom, as well – so keep up with that.  May you be present in every moment, may your challenges open to you new ways, new friends – new life.  Be there for each other.  Community can be present where you are.   Lilie

SANTA CLAUS, OR BROTHER’S KEEPER?

I’ve been thinking about this, and thinking about this; well, I have to weigh in.  I’ll tell it through my own experience, you’ll get the gist.
Many, many years ago, I was a supervisor in a medical support position at a mental health care facility.  The facility had a locked ward.  I was one of very few support staff who had to make trips to the locked ward.  We had a protocol.  Normally, I followed it carefully.  I believed I was following it carefully this day.  I approached the first door, waited and was ‘buzzed’ into an anteroom.  We were supposed to wait for a few seconds, then the second door would open.  I would look both ways, toward patient rooms, and toward the dayroom, then cross when no one was in that short hallway.  This day, I believed I was being careful.  But, I crossed the hallway and someone was behind me, surprising both of us.  The man grabbed me, from behind, around my neck and above my waist, he had me about two or three inches off the ground.  I was immediately afraid, and then kind of pissed off.

I looked toward the entry to the nurse’s station and there stood a young resident.  He moved into the doorway and began talking to the man who had hold of me.  He spoke in a neutral voice.  Something about this young resident’s expression hit me with more impact than being yanked off my feet.  I suddenly felt terribly sad.  Yes, this man could hurt me, that’s very true, and that didn’t leave my mind.  But, I knew he did not mean to.  As the resident spoke to him, I could feel his fear and confusion.  He was afraid of me.  I had surprised him every bit as much as he surprised me.  He was not seeing me, but some delusion which was, at that moment, his reality.  I was inside that delusion and he was afraid of me.  He was talked into releasing me, and he did so without harming me.  I felt sickened at heart, and terribly sad.  I knew, the reality hit me – no going back.  I knew where I was and what I was witnessing, it changed my entire way of thinking.   This man with promise, hopes, family and friends was betrayed by the very organ we believe defines us, presents our identity to the outside world – his brain.  I could not imagine what that would be like.  To be one kind of person, to think of and see yourself as one kind of person, and become and do things that are not within your experience of yourself.

 
In the following couple of weeks, an incident report had to be filed.  I was questioned, interviewed, etc.  So was the man.  He didn’t really understand what he had done, he knew it was something that he was ashamed of.   He didn’t want to look at me.  I just felt sick about the whole thing.  No, he shouldn’t have attempted to harm me, but that isn’t what he was attempting to do; however, that’s what his action could have resulted in.  He shouldn’t have been in that position.  And, he was going to be put out on the street.  What then?  Didn’t anyone ask that?  No.  Because it was about cutting funding for mental health services.  That’s just a luxury item, right?  We don’t want to pay for that for crazy folk, do we?

Unless you are the one experiencing a psychotic break and/or schizophrenia, I don’t think you can explain it to anyone – I don’t think mental health care providers can.  It’s a terrible and devastating illness, creating destruction all across its path.   There is more hope now for people, but it really depends on a great support system, and money, money, money for care, much care.  That’s not the story for most.

So if you want to demonize, vilify, there it is, you certainly can.  But, if you are interested in the truth, if you believe the truth brings healing and opportunity to educate and prevent, you’ll have to look a little deeper, past the easiest reaction, past the seduction of the media and their agenda to keep a story alive no matter how skewed or misrepresented, no matter that it engenders fear, suspicion and hatred.   There is enough pain here to go around.  All have suffered.

Unless we look at this situation for the truth it offers, and begin there, it is going to continue to happen.  We need to know what our state laws are regarding mental health issues and the reporting thereof.  We need to know how to enhance those laws for the protection of all.  Mental health is not a luxury item.  And, ‘no’ Virginia there is no Santa Claus, but  ‘yes’ we are our brother’s keeper – help comes when we acknowledge and provide it – even if a person can only look at it from the point of their own self-interest.

By no means is it my intention to make less of the suffering of all the victims and their families.  My heart is sick for all concerned.

Thank you for stopping by.  Lilie

WHAT DO YOU KNOW?

Yesterday, I checked email, looked at facebook, got caught up on internet stuff, and I looked at a political comment made on a site, I won’t mention which one.  It started out ok.  Then, of course, it turned into personal attacks.  I was just about to start tapping in a comment, and caught myself.   Hmm.  What’s this about?  We don’t know these candidates.  If you met them, you don’t know them – you just met them PERIOD.  So, why the personal remarks? You may have an impression of someone, but that’s not knowing them.

It made me think, again.  What in this speaks to me?  Well, it’s about that ‘person I want to be’ thing.  What do I want out of a president, a leader?  Honor, courage, wisdom, patience, compassion.  And, on my part, the recognition that a person can possess those qualities, and they are still human – still have frailties, faults and are subject to making mistakes.  Also my responsibility:  pay attention to the best of my ability, research and understand issues important to self and others, and choose the one I feel best qualifies to address those concerns.  I don’t need to argue, or force my opinion, I have the right to read, listen and vote – those will do.  Things that I am passionate about, I can give money or time; I can volunteer; I can be creative in my ways of expressing support.  And, still I don’t have to call anyone names, degrade or abuse anyone’s reputation – I will make a difference and pass on something better.  What affects one area of your life, encroaches on others.
As always, thanks for stopping by.  May your needs be met, may you be the one who meets another’s need.  Lilie