detachment v. avoidance

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First, let me apologize for not posting last Wednesday. Other projects are pulling my focus from still.moving, and I had to make the choice to publish a lousy post or publish nothing. So, I chose the latter. It was, after all, the easier option.

For the past month-or-so I’ve been rereading my old notebooks. The one I’ve enjoyed going through most is the notebook I carried with me during a month-long trip to India. One of the major ideas I pondered over the course of that trip was the Buddhist principle of attachment. This core belief states that in order to reach enlightenment we should not be reliant on any ideas, things, or even people. These attachments bound our minds and cause suffering.

So, let’s say I have an attachment to my physical discomfort. I’m speaking hypothetically; this does not at all resemble the actual situation. If this attachment was real, then having a higher than normal pain day would negatively impact my mood, my behaviors, and maybe even my view of the world.

And this would be one big attachment fail.

Allow me for a moment to pause and address every reader with a chronic health condition who is getting angrier with each word, thinking, Of course I’m in a bad mood when I’m in pain! What does this self-righteous Buddhist wannabe expect?

Take a breath, keep reading, and try to keep in mind that what I write is nothing more than expectations I hold for myself.

My ultimate goal in pain management is to notice my pain, make any adjustments to ameliorate it, then let it go. That’s detachment. Another method of dealing with physical discomfort would be noticing the pain, pretending it’s not there, and then complaining throughout the subsequent flair over the next three-ish days. That’s called avoidance, and I’m already really good at that.

The two are quite different, but sometimes might be difficult to tell apart. For example [and again, this is just a hypothetical situation and not one that I witness every day on social media], take the person whose post is nothing more than a rant disguised as an update with an “uplifting” message tacked on the end. It might read something like, My life is terrible and I hate everything and everyone, but I am stronger than this and it won’t get me down! This person is, most likely, avoiding the feeling that they are a helpless victim, and masking it as a hopeful Instagram post. Again, this is purely hypothetical.

As hard as it is to watch people kidding themselves, I know that a life of detachment is an extraordinarily tall order and not one that everyone will believe is worth pursuing. And that’s quite alright. It really sucks to sit with discomfort, whether it’s physical pain or negative emotions. You’d have to wholeheartedly believe that this is the way to go before putting yourself through that.

So, these are a few of my thoughts over the past two weeks. I’m looking back at the person I was on this trip in September 2010 and trying to figure out what’s different [if anything] about where I stand now. I feel like as long as I’m a little ahead of where I was then I’m doing okay.

Then again that goal may be a bit too easy.


my new “normal”

I hit a lot of roadblocks this week, and I’m pretty sure that I’m responsible for each one. Let’s start with my unrealistic expectation of trying to maintain everything I was doing at Silver Hill while also keeping up with a house, a job, and my insatiable need to please others. The “Silver Hill behaviors” include daily physical therapy, meditation, maintaining an anti-inflammatory diet, and sleeping at least seven hours a night. And don’t forget about doing something that will enhance my spiritual life, my social life, and my need to make money and maintain my home.

Yes, my list is long and full of a lot of behaviors that are new and a bit unnatural right now. Nevertheless, I placed this expectation on myself and, unsurprisingly, fell short. Let’s explore how shall we?

  • Diet : I’ve consumed too much sugar this past week and I’ve allowed my caffeine intake to creep upwards. I’ve also eaten meals that lack the foods I know my body needs [i.e. raw almond butter on a gluten-free bagel is not lunch]. And I ate Chick-Fil-A the other day so…
  • Sleep : My sleep quality [and quantity] is trending downwards. To combat my tiredness I’ve allowed myself extra caffeine, but I’m confident that this variable is now the culprit for my unrestful nights. I need to resist the urge to replace an earlier bedtime with an extra cup of coffee.
  • Exercise : I have pacing issues when I’m working out, and my physical therapy is no exception. I worked on this a lot with my team at Silver Hill, particularly the physical therapist, but I’m far from mastering the skill. I’m currently bouncing somewhere between “too tired to work out” and feeling so good I have to eventually force myself to stop.
  • Meditation : I have meditated a grand total of one time in the past two weeks, yet this is something I should be doing daily.
  • Spirituality : Big fat zero on this one.

One of my many goals is to create an existence where my pain is a reality but not a lifestyle. I want to accept it but not focus on it. For this to happen, the behaviors for which I’m struggling to find time are going to have to become my new normal. My meditation practice needs to be as automatic as brushing my teeth. My bedtime won’t be a point of negotiation but rather an assumption. I’m hoping that by establishing these healthy patterns my focus on any physical discomfort will shift to the back burner. That may seem illogical, especially if I’m describing it as poorly as I feel I am, but I’m going all in.

So…that’s my little plan. Easy, right?


coffee break

For a year or so I didn’t drink coffee because it wasn’t on the anti-inflammatory diet. I’ve never been the type of person who couldn’t wake up until I had a cup or two, but nonetheless, coffee was a big part of my morning. I made the switch to a green tea I learned to love, but cutting coffee was a real bummer.

Then I was introduced to Bulletproof Coffee beans which are grown in a way that minimizes toxins, mold, and acid. It’s the ideal coffee for people with a slew of health issues, including chronic illness and inflammation. I placed an order, and just like that, I was {almost} drinking coffee again!

Still, I needed a bit of assistance. To start, the beans were whole, and I was fairly certain my spice grinder wasn’t up to the task. Second, the pricetag was higher than I was used to, and I wanted to get the most out of my purchase. Thankfully, I had guidance from my brother and sister-in-law who recommended a proper grinder and canisters in which to store the beans so they remained mold-free. They also warned me against purchasing a countertop coffee maker {as they can harbor mold} and suggested I brew my coffee using a french press or the pour over method.

Since then, I’ve played around with my equipment and recipe, and now that the weather is finally starting to change I’m making hot coffee again. And after a couple of cups that were best described as “meh,” I am determined to learn how to make a seriously delicious cup of coffee. Using only non-dairy milk can be a challenge, as is not having any expensive equipment, but let’s face it : I have nothing but time to figure this out.

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Now here’s the part when I bring this post full circle and try to make you believe it has something to do with chronic pain.

It can be difficult to fill my days with things my body can handle. But fixing coffee is right in my proverbial wheelhouse. When I’m tired and hurting following a long night of painsomnia I’m even more motivated to spend the time to craft a tasty cup. And on the mornings when I wake up feeling like I usually do, I’m happy to put the kettle on, grind the beans, and meticulously go through the steps. I may not always take the time to sit at the table to enjoy my coffee, but I genuinely enjoy the preparation.

If anyone has any tips tweet me or comment below. As you can see from the last image of my coffee cup I still have a lot of work to do!