It's all very well to talk about living well, as does Diane Mariechild in today's reflection in Open Mind -- Womens' Daily Inspirations for Becoming Mindful, but how do we do it when our lives seem -- or are -- far from "well"?
By not fleeing or denying or pretending.
By living consciously into each moment: by being fully present.
Fully present even to our pain, be it physical or emotional or spiritual; living consciously along with the difficulties presented to us.
That kind of presence to life doesn't happen, doesn't come to us just because we want it, although I am convinced that wanting it is a prerequisite for finding it. Over the years of living with chronic migraine pain, I have been taught and have developed on my own many practices for living life well despite pain. Not that I am really good at these practices always, or that I go through life in saintly fashion, smiling beneficently while courageously hiding physical suffering.
No, my practice must include regular, if not constant, reminders to slow down, stop whining, breathe deeply, and look into my tool box of pain management techniques. Even after all these years, I need to remind myself. Even after all these years, I still want to flee or deny or complain. Thank goodness I learned long ago to smile wryly at my foibles, shake my head and re-resolve to change.
Whatever practice works for my pain -- meditation, deep breathing, deep muscle relaxation, inhabiting the body, chanting and mantras (all of which I have posted about; see the Labels list to the right of this column) -- also works in my spiritual life, helping me to let go of desired outcomes; nudging me to leave aside the worry about lack of productivity and inability to hold down a job; teaching me to accept the moment and therein find God.
An odd blessing it is, that migraine pain has led and continues to lead me to spiritual depths unavailable in my busy, productive life before the migraines got bad. It is the sort of blessing surely awaiting us, simply available through quiet acceptance of what is Now.
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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.