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With a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction degree (Goucher College, August 2014), I am looking at a new phase in my life. From 1992 to 2009, I served as Founding Executive Director of Miriam's House, a residence for homeless women living with AIDS. I left this position when Chronic Migraine Disease overtook my ability to do my job. Now I hope that a writing career will both accommodate the migraines and give me a creative, productive outlet. And soon, September 4, I will launch my Inkshares author page in a bid to hit the 1,000 pre-order goal in 90  days. The book I want to publish is "Nowhere Else I Want to Be," a memoir of ten of my years at Miriam's House.

02 April 2012

"The Power of Now" and Pain: Exercising our Power

Fifteenth in a series.

In my previous post, I said this:

Our life circumstance, chronic pain, can become a doorway to our spiritual enlightenment. We can choose to let our pain teach us to live in the Now, to open our hearts to reality, to show us the freedom of accepting what is. And all of the spiritual teachers I know say that this is the path to inner peace, to a loving heart, and to becoming a compassionate presence in this hurting world.

It took me a while to take it in, but the distinction that Eckhart Tolle makes between one's life circumstance and one's life is edifying.  Here is how it goes for those of us with chronic pain (in the list below, I am paraphrasing from The Power of Now, page 62-63):

  1. Our life is different from our life circumstance (or life situation).
  2. That means that our life is different from the suffering of chronic pain, which is a situation or circumstance of our life.
  3. Our life is Now: our suffering exists in time in that we pile what Tolle calls "mind stuff" on top of the physical pain.
  4. Our life is real: our situation, which is to say our suffering, is created in our mind and as such is unreal.
  5. When we are focused on our pain, making it an emotional and mental problem in addition to it being physically distressing, "there is no room for anything new to enter, no room for a solution.  So whenever you can, make some room, create some space, so that you find the life underneath your life situation." (page 63)
These concepts are not to be understood intellectually, and Tolle stresses this in his Introduction when he says, "Don't read with the mind only."  (page 7)  There is some danger in me trying to express these things in my clumsy way, and so I again urge you to read the book.  I do not claim to be a Tolle expert who can speak for him or get you to understand what he is saying.  My sole purpose is to explore and share how Tolle's teachings have helped me both spiritually and in living with chronic pain.

In my next post (this one is short because of this migraine), I will get to some practical methods for bringing these teachings into the life of chronic pain.


I would love to hear from you.  Please use the Comment link below, or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.  Thank you.



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