I have completely fallen off the meditation wagon. In spite of declaring that exercise and meditation were going to be the cornerstones of managing my pain, I’ve neglected my practice.
And while I say that I need to reincorporate meditation into my daily routine, I stopped believing that statement. It’s just something I’d like to think I care about so much that I absolutely have to do it. Honestly, though, it feels more like a luxury more than anything else.
But then I had a conversation with someone that kind of rocked my world.
“Meditation is a non-negotiable for you,” she stated. She didn’t have a lot of background information about who I am or what my challenges are, but she was right. “And how great is that you have a chronic illness; it’s the perfect reason to commit to your practice!”
At first, that last sentence hit me wrong. How great is it that I have a chronic illness, was all I heard. Then I realized what she was saying, and I completely agreed. I have an absolutely wonderful reason to consistently meditate. I can choose to meditate to control my pain, or I can choose to skip it and deal with the consequences.
For those of you who have a difficult time drawing a clear line between meditation and controlling physical pain, let me tell you [yet another] quick story.
I went to physical therapy the same day I had the aforementioned exchange. After the dry needling portion of my appointment, I asked my physical therapist why I continue to have all these trigger points and knots everywhere in spite of the progress I’m making. His explanation was that because I’m still experiencing pain, my movements are guarded. I’m walking better but still not great, and as I go about my day I subconsciously tense up and move in unnatural ways.
Okay, so I’m in pain because I tense up, but I tense up because I’m in pain. And my pain won’t decrease until I stop tensing up? What am I supposed to do with that information? Two major things come to mind: be mindful of my movements and relax.
Meditation can help me accomplish both.
In order to be my best self – physically, emotionally, mentally….whatever – I have to meditate regularly. At least for now, it’s non-negotiable. Relabeling it as this instead of a “luxury” or even a “new behavior” helps me achieve that shift in perspective that I am desperately trying to achieve.
But more on that later.