a work in progress,  eastern medicine

putting down the gloves

I’ve been in a defensive stance for a long time. I used to fight to get to the end of each day, letting my symptoms dictate how I went about everything. Now, I fight to get better – to finally reach some sort of existence in which I’m not constantly uncomfortable.

Lately, however, I’ve been receiving messages that this is not the way I should go about managing my health and pain.

At first, I was incredulous. I may speak of acceptance and how that is my ultimate goal, but to actually achieve this has felt like a pipedream. Yes, it’s a beautiful idea, but my true mental state has been stuck in This life hurts, why would I stop fighting? To stop fighting means that I would wave a flag in surrender. Well, that would be crazy. I can do better than this. Additionally, after over a decade of living in this state, fighting became a part of my self-identity. The idea of stopping didn’t align with my worldview on so many levels.

The last time I found myself on the acupuncture table I was in the middle of a pain flare and a bit of a mess. After reading my pulse, my acupuncturist shared a thought with me. I feel like you’re trying really hard to get betterMy first reaction was, Yes, great! I am! But she continued, gently offering that perhaps acceptance was an approach worth considering.

Not long after this session, I picked up Anita Moorjani’s book Dying to be Me which is an account of her near-death experience while suffering from end-stage lymphoma, and how she quickly healed upon waking. Moorjani offers the reader many lessons she learned following this experience, but a couple stood out. First, she talks about learning to look inward for answers rather than outward, as the changes we make influence our entire universe. “If I’m at peace, all of creation is peaceful,” she writes. Okay, this is interesting and completely aligns with my pursuit of successfully managing my pain without outside intervention. Second, Moorjani writes that our bodies are a reflection of our inner state and that her realization of this during her near-death experience is what allowed her to heal.

It was hard to not actually nod along in agreement as I read this book, that’s how strongly it resonated. So many things she wrote are things I’ve thought before but never strung together or related to my health. Yet it all made perfect sense.

As my meditation practice progresses, I’m finding that occasionally I get the feeling I have truly left my physical body behind. It doesn’t happen each time I meditate and I can’t hold onto the feeling for too long, but when it happens I’m at ease mentally and physically. I don’t feel pain. As soon as I am pulled back down, however, I am greeted by this body that is uncomfortable and I am reminded of my reality.

I’ve wanted to tap into this feeling, to find a way to access a similar state as I go about life. I’ve had no idea how to do this, however, so I just kept practicing. In an oddly ironic way, I viewed the pursuit of this goal similarly to how I trained to run a marathon or master any other skill. I set smaller benchmark goals, I took it very seriously, and I had high expectations for how my hard work would one day pay off. Somehow I found a way to even turn meditation into a battle.

If everything I’m hearing, seeing, reading, learning, and even occasionally experiencing is correct, then I have the power to create my world and all that is in it, whether that is beauty and peace or sadness and pain. At one time this idea would have angered me or would have made me feel that my illness was somehow less real if I had the power to change it, but today I’m excited by this notion because I realize that this answer would mean that there is a way out.

I can work with this.

I apologize for today’s post lacking a certain light, holiday theme. I guess that’s just not where I am right now! Nevertheless, I hope you are all enjoying the Season and getting what you need.


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