If remembering that we belong to the universe gives us "enormous support and comfort" as Diane Mariechild says in today's page (Open Mind -- Women's Daily Inspirations for Becoming Mindful), couldn't it also help us when we are in pain?
It's not easy to grow or expand beyond ourselves when we are in pain. The natural tendency is to curl in around our pain, sheltering our hurting selves from anything that intrudes or requires effort. And that's a great response for acute pain -- that alarming signal from the nerves of your fingertips when you touch something sharp or hot, for example -- because you hold the hurt place, tend to it, become absorbed for the moment in its healing.
But with chronic pain -- physical maladies such as intractable migraine, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue -- there comes a point at which holding, tending and absorption only exacerbate the pain. Worse, we add layers of suffering on top of the physical pain: why won't it stop?; what will I do if it lasts much longer?; I can't stand this; I am missing out on so much.
For the purposes of this blog, I write about pain as having two components: physical -- the illness or injury that causes the pain; and emotional/mental -- the fear, anxiety and low self-esteem (to name a few) that we tend to slather around our lives of chronic pain. (I have posted about this before: The Power of Now: Exercising Our Power; and The Alchemy of Transforming Suffering Into Consciousness.) I have also posted about pain management practices and methods -- see the right-hand column under LABELS and click on those words for more posts.
So here is a practice for going beyond our pain, taught to us by Joy Harjo. She suggests we say the phrase three times at these times:
** before getting up in the morning;
** before each meal;
** before going to bed at night.
I have learned that those practices I use daily are the best ones when the pain is bad. They are ingrained, part of my spirit, and I turn to them almost without thinking. Joy's spiritual truth, or prayer --
Remember that you are this universe and that this
universe is you.
Remember that all is motion, is growing, is you
-- is a mantra to add to my repertoire of comfort measures, those methods that take me beyond myself and my hurting head. Not that the pain goes away or I deny its existence, but that allowing my spirit to grow beyond the immediate concerns of my body and into the expansiveness of the universe puts the pain into perspective.
Enormous support and comfort, indeed.
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.