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Showing posts from November, 2011

Onset, struggle, letting go, emptiness and back again

I thought I was making progress but I guess I forgot myself. Here's a list of words that I'm working through right now (having worked through them many times before).

So then:

Onset

Struggle

Yielding

Emptiness

Balance


Why do I struggle so much?

Chronic fatigue and the wheelchair

I've had a problem going for a wheelchair since my illness began - mainly because I was physically fit when I started and the problems I had were all centered around mental fatigue and cognitive failures of various kinds. It also happened suddenly and I thought I could tough it out.

Years later, after not considering the wheelchair option (mainly because I didn't want to admit total defeat), I was on holiday and it was clear that people wanted to do things that I couldn't possibly keep up with, unless I went in a wheelchair. So, I could either stay at home or go along and use a freely available wheelchair. I decided to try it out and I was amazed that I could enjoy going out and about without the usual constant struggle to find resting points or coffee shops - I could just relax and enjoy the ride. This transformed the day for everyone and we all had a good time.

Since then I've used a wheelchair several times and it is generally successful. I can rest and go out at th…

Is your mind inside or outside?

Do you live in a world entirely inside your head? Do your thoughts go round and round? Do you only think about yourself? Or, is your mind open and receptive? Is it expansive? Are you taking in your surroundings? Are you wide like the sky?

I know which one I keep getting stuck in ...

We rely on things staying the same

I didn't really appreciate this until someone told me yesterday. There's nothing wrong in our reliance on things and people being the same as they were yesterday; it's quite comforting. The trouble is that the world we live in seems to be counter to this notion - indeed, we live in a society that is driven by constant change and innovation. No wonder we feel uncomfortable all the time.

The tools of Buddhism

I'm a bit of a scientist and I thought I could science my way through life and somehow deduce a suitable outcome without life getting too bad. However, then I became ill and science let me down really - "you're ill, there's nothing we can do, it's a complex business the human body". I tried a few things and they made me worse (although I am grateful for the opportunity to at least try some treatments). So then, the science let me down.

Once you have no faith that the modern world is going to provide you with relief, you're a bit stuck - there's not much else out there, the system has run out of magic beans. Luckily, I had a casual interest in Buddhism and I gave some of its techniques a try. Here's some of the tools I found particular useful:

- mindfulness meditation
- breathing techniques and meditation (although this goes into yoga)
- concentration meditation - this is particularly healing for a tired mind
- awareness of the body
- awareness of …

Worrying is optional

I've been a worrier all my life and it's always fascinated me to see the amount of things that I worry about. Then, when I became quite ill, I didn't worry about anything and life just seemed to tick along just fine without the extra fretting. Now, as I've recovered a little bit, the old habit patterns are starting to re-emerge and there's a sense of pointless worrying starting to return.

However! I've also deepened my meditation over this time and there's a definite optional nature to thinking these thoughts. They arise, they seem believable, if I am aware enough I leave them alone, something else comes along, I go with that, I try to steer towards calmer waters, and so on.

Don't presume to understand your body

This is some wisdom I could have done with right at the beginning of my illness. There's a kind of implicit assumption when we are well that we are in control of our body - we drink too much alcohol it feels rough, we take pills for pain, we exercise to make it fitter, we feed it, preen it and admire it in the mirror. It's our body. However, when it goes wrong we would do well to respect the healing process that it needs to go through - processes that can take years to complete. It's a hugely complicated organism and we would do well to leave it alone. The body is part of the iceberg that lies submerged beneath out conscious mind - it wears the accumulation of life on the inside. How? Why? Where? Who knows? Some things are not quite within our grasp.

Anyway, as I go through another healing process I am amazed to find the pain in my neck moving (after several days) into my shoulders (and then after weeks) blossoming across my whole back. Clearly, it has its own agenda, and …

Silence and emptiness

Feeling a bit more circumspect today - good days, bad days. One of the great things about Buddhism is that it tackles the idea of emptiness head on and comes up with some joyful results. We are all aware of emptiness to some degree - the sense of pointlessness, that feeling when something terrible has happened and yet life goes on, unacknowledged pain, that kind of thing. It's right there in front of our noses and yet we turn away from it and crack open another chocolate lollipop hoping it will go away.

So then, if we look into the heart of emptiness we find silence and contentment. Emptiness is not nothingness, more like continuous emptying - an empty bowl is still a bowl waiting to do its bowling. We can admire the bowl, use the bowl, keep the bowl clear so it is ready for the next thing.

Give your positive voice some air time

Hello beautiful people. Have a nice cup of tea and relax. It's not so bad. We can measure our lives in many different ways but there is no correct way - everything is good in the end. On and on and on, like rolling stones.

If you are reading this, may your life be filled with happiness.

Catching the good waves

I've been thrust back into the hurly burly of society, and, boy, it's a bruising experience; it's like sitting on a beach being battered by one heavy wave after another. I'm not sure it really achieves much being stuck in this mind-set of stress reactivity and fear. It's kind of mesmerising but ultimately irrational.

Anyway, that's the sludge. Out in the ocean there are good waves to be had and it seems useful to think that each day is a good day inspite of the fact that we cannot have back what is already gone or stop what might never happen and remember that time does not expand to allow us to do everything at once.

There is relief in awareness and joy in the simple act of frying an egg.

Find the happiness in each day

It's in there somewhere.

It's good to remind yourself of this, especially if you're feeling stressed (which we are at the moment) and have lost contact with the idea that there is happiness in life. The best way to connect with happiness is to:

a) practice finding it when life is normal
b) enjoy it when you find it
c) if you've lost it, remember what it used to feel like and then amplify the goose feathers out of it
d) remember, your mind=your life