Friday, March 20, 2009

Sleeping With the Enemy

I've been reading a lot about Buddhism lately and I like it. It doesn't mince words. The very first thing Buddha teaches is that "life is suffering," and the religion basically goes on from there. What a concept. I suppose it's not surprising that I'm drawn to a religion that takes on pain as its basic tenet.

While I've been reading all kinds of wonderful spiritual books these past few years, Buddhism speaks to me on a different level because it says, basically, that if I can be patient and accepting of what has befallen me, I can ultimately find a way to peace, contentment and enlightenment, even nirvana, whether chronic pain is in my life or not.

This so much echoes my own discovery about the power of acceptance, then adds to it by assuring me that the pain doesn't have to go away for me to be happy. It offers a place that is deeper, softer, stronger, where I can just let go, detach and rest.

I've already experienced this somewhat on nights when the pain is just so bad that I'll quietly lie down somewhere and just let everything go. I'll stop fighting the pain and tell it to get as bad as it wants to get, and sure enough, something does happen physiologically. As I calm down and breathe, sometimes it will begin to throb (in a good way, as if the blood is getting to where it needs to go), which is when I just detach and observe, then imagine tending to the infection site with cool water and gentle cleansing.

This brings to mind a doctor I once saw on TV, who hypnotized pregnant women who'd previously given birth in nightmarish deliveries. The idea was to get them to work with their labor pains, as opposed to fearing or battling them. Not surprisingly, the two women featured in the show experienced flawless deliveries using this self-hypnosis, where each was quietly at peace giving birth while other labor-stricken mothers were screaming bloody murder in adjoining rooms. One scream, in particular, sounded like the poor woman was being hacked to death, which stood in such stark contrast to these incredibly peaceful deliveries.

I've thought of that show often over the years, but my fear of this pain was too overwhelming to think self-hypnosis could work for me.

That's the operative word here: fear. When we don't understand what's happening in our bodies and we can't find relief, we can feel invaded, in a sense. We're battling a monster we can't see, can't find, can't conquer. In the battle to vanquish this enemy, we can go to war with our own bodies, often finding solace and escape in substance abuse and other bad habits, only to find that we're pouring gasoline on the fire.

In meeting with my life coach Nancy Colasurdo this week, I was able to admit that I'm just not taking care of myself anymore. I've been giving in to this loss of appetite by not eating, but as Nancy pointed out, this decreases my energy all the more. And it lowers my resistance to any type of infection, which perhaps explains the increase in pain. My body can't deploy its own defenses with so little nutrients. I need to have faith that with proper care, my body will assist in this battle handsomely. I need to work with my body, and that means personal responsibility.

I can't ask God or any universal spirit for help when I'm not willing to do my very best to help myself--when I don't want to do the right thing--which is rid myself of the self-abuse habits that are harming me. It's so obvious that I feel just plain stupid at not having had the insight sooner.

So I must work with, not against, my body in all ways if I'm ever to overcome this pain. Come to think of it, that's just a good way to live in all matters.


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1 comment:

Dave Scriven said...

Hi Mary Ann,

Sounds like a lot of self-discovery in this post... benefits of self-hypnosis, some teachings in Buddhism, eating right. Thanks for sharing this. I am also learning from your process.

Dave