11 April 2013

Reading Mariechild Together: Wanting Things To Be Other Than They Are

Want to know how to make pain (either emotional or physical) worse? Wish it away. Fight with it. Tell yourself you don't deserve it, it's not fair, and let the frustration grow. Get mad because you have other, more important things to do and this was not on your list and life is just so damned unfair. Worry about what that other person did or said, try to figure them out, try to argue with them in your mind.

Feel your muscles tense, your heart pound. Let the adrenaline rush around your bloodstream, leaving you feeling weak and somewhat shaky.

There are alternatives.

From Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson's Disease: "My happiness grows in direct proportion [to] my acceptance and in inverse proportion to my expectations. That's the key for me. If I can accept the truth of 'This is what I'm facing -- not what I expect but what I am experiencing now' -- then I have all this freedom to do other things." (from the April/May 2013 issue of AARP Magazine.)

From Diane Mariechild, Open Mind -- Women's Daily Inspirations for Becoming Mindful: "Can we accept [what is] without wanting it to be better, or be different from what it is?"

From Sylvia Boorstein: "So, in the first five minutes [of paying attention] you get a big lesson about suffering; wanting things to be other than they are."

From me: What Remains is Love.

If you have never worked with the present moment and its reality in this way, all this sounds counter-intuitive, I know. You think, "What, are you crazy? Accept this terrible headache?" or "No, there is no way I can accept this break-up. Accept failure? Mistakes? All the hurt?"


Accept that this is the reality of the moment -- the headache is worse; my heart is broken. But this kind of acceptance is very simple, uncomplicated -- now I am in pain as a statement of fact -- not now my heart is broken as a doorway to guilt, fear, shame and blame.

A simple statement of fact. An acceptance of the present moment with no judgment or shading into nuance and emotion.

I am really hurting today.

Once I have accepted that fact, I am freed to practice the many tools I have learned for pain management -- all of which work for emotional pain as well, in my experience.

Deep relaxation.

Chanting or repeating mantras on the breath.

Healing imagery and meditation.

Listening to calm, beautiful music. I especially like Deuter for this.

One last tip: The more I practice -- meaning daily -- these tools, the more handy they are when I am in pain and the less thinking I have to do to bring their process to mind.

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


  1. Carol: A beautiful summation of what I believe is the first step and perhaps the most difficult step in true healing. When we truly surrender to what is we open the possibility for a force greater than ourselves -- in my tradition God -- to heal. As an acupuncturist I am always remembering that true healing cannot come from me, as much as I may want to alleviate someone's suffering. True healing always comes from the love and mercy that underlies everything in this universe. I just pray that my treatments may be a vessel for this deep mercy and healing. And the first step is accepting where we are in the moment. Beautiful and practical post.

  2. Hi, Janet: It feels so right that you connect mercy with healing. And that you pray to be a vessel: it's another dimension of this accepting the moment practice, I think. Accepting reality also means letting go of our need to control it. In this sense, your prayer to be a vessel for deep mercy and healing lets go of your need to control what happens in your acupuncture sessions. Instead of "Physician, heal thyself," it's "Physician, get out of the way so that mercy and love can flow through you." You are a true healer.