As I have, over the past nine years, sought relief from chronic pain (migraine), I've learned that it's easy to unconsciously exacerbate one's pain. And since I'm making a fresh start with this blog, I want to re-examine that in the larger context of life's pain.
I know. It sounds depressing, doesn't it? Yippeeeee, let's talk about how full of pain life is! Not what you want to do during an afternoon's perusal of the internet. But there are a couple of distinctions I'd like to make.
First, I don't want to dwell on life's pain. Let's just acknowledge it's there, be realistic about it. If we can simply nod and say, yep, life's full of pain, then move on to the next point, we're setting the stage for deeper healing. We're making room for healing around what's hurting us, like the relationship that's ending, or the job recently lost, the new job not yet found, or a doctor's diagnosis, a friend's disease, or our physical pain.
Second, I've come to understand pain as being different from suffering. Pain is a migraine. Suffering is being upset because I have to cancel yet another visit with a friend. Pain is leaving a long term relationship. Suffering is guilt and blame and anger. I think of suffering as being what we layer over pain.
Life's pain is inevitable. Suffering is our choice.
Once I learned that, Buddhism's Four Noble Truths made a lot more sense to me. This migraine is inevitable, and I can choose not to make it worse by getting mad about it, or feeling sorry for myself.
In my next post, I'll spend more time with the Four Noble Truths.
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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.