When we are in pain, and when it is severe enough, all of the blogs and books and articles we have read, discussed and reflected on seem like so much drivel.
When I am in pain, when it is severe enough that all I can do is lie, whimpering, on the bed, I could not care less about my blog, or any particular post, or anything I have written.
Pain humbles me. Pain supersedes all efforts of my mind to make sense of life or the world around me. Serious migraine pain -- which, I am so very grateful to say, occurs only about once a month --reduces me to rubble. It's not a pretty sight.
At such times, it is not possible -- even if I were so inclined -- to pick up a book and read up on pain management tools, or to refer to a blog post that might help. I cannot think. I cannot open my photo-sensitive eyes, let alone read. I just want relief, and sometimes even the migraine medication I take is not available to me, either because I have taken one too recently, or because it's toward the end of the month and I have already taken all nine pills that are allowed me, or because I need to ration them out to last for the month and have already taken too many.
So, then what? The "inner body" is what.
Having practiced regularly, for meditation and for calming nerves and for pain management, I turn almost without thought to my inner body.
I usually begin with my feet, feeling the energy within, focusing on that subtle yet pleasing sensation of life. I allow the sensation to begin to relax my feet. Sometimes I picture cells or muscles slightly vibrating, or being enveloped in a golden, soothing light.
I breathe deeply and slowly, two or three times, imagining that the breath reaches all the way to my feet and softly fills the empty spaces.
And so for the rest of my body: ankles, calves, knees, thighs, pelvic area, buttocks...all the way up to my head, slowly, deliberately, and always taking those slow and deep breaths before proceeding to the next area.
When I get to the location of the pain, my head, I go even more gently.
I imagine the breath as a swirling energy that delicately gathers the shards of pain, softening their edges and lifting them away. I imagine that the pain, which had seemed like a solid, impenetrable block in my head, is made permeable and less substantive.
Then, usually, I fall asleep for a few blessed hours.
Inner body trumps thinking every time.
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Carol D. Marsh
- 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.