When I slow down -- thoughts, actions, reactions -- I am much more aware of how I am choosing. That's one of the spiritual gifts of chronic pain: it slows me so much that I can feel how a negative thought ("I just can't take another migraine this week.") affects the pain; how a positive thought ("I can decide to go through this with dignity.") shifts it.
So in today's reflection by Diane Mariechild in Open Heart -- Women's Daily Inspirations for Becoming Mindful, it is pain that I think of when I have been made to slow down. Migraine pain, of course, but also the pain of a fractured relationship, a mis-spoken or cruel word. I think that what Mariechild and St Teresa of Avila are saying is that when the pain of the obstacles and mistakes in our lives slows us down, we have an opportunity to reflect, decide to change and grow.
That process is complicated and made slower by shame, about which I have posted before, here.
But if we can derail the shame and get to the healing, we have Mariechild's reflection to guide us. I happen to enjoy outlines and lists, so have broken down her lovely meditation into a far more pedantic form:
1. Realize we can use the obstacles (mistake, sin) in our lives as opportunities to embody love.
2. Become aware of our thoughts; create a practice of looking deeply and honestly (I would add here, without shame and judgment) into our actions.
3. Make a choice to become more loving.
It takes practice, life-long practice toward an unreachable goal. But we can progress along the path to a purely loving heart and each step we take is immensely important to ourselves and to this world.
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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.