|My bookcase...third shelf down from top.|
Lately, I have been suffering more than I like.
I am sure that statement not only sounds a bit odd, but it most likely sounds a little “woe is me” as well. Odd, in the obvious…who really likes to suffer at all – and “woe is me” in that…well, get over it Sunshine, we all seem to be suffering more than usual these days! One does not have to look far (maybe your own mirror) to find something that brings you great suffering.
So why the lead off? Because when I am struggling to write, sometimes the best thing to do is to just stop forcing the situation and dig down and find out what’s going on Now. So in a roundabout way, after letting go of a little bit of ego…ok, a lot of ego… and expectations, this is what it all shakes down to.
I am not feeling well physically these days. More than the usual. I’m not completely sure why this is the case, or which comes first, the chicken or the egg, but I have a general idea of some contributing factors. Summer is WONDERFUL, but very different from the slow routine of winter. With the kids in school, Dave at work and shorter days, winter lends itself to rest. Summer, on the other hand, is full of activity. Kids home, Dave laid-off from his job with the State of Minnesota, longer days, things to do outside and scheduled summer-time events all present a multitude of opportunities to say, “Yes!” And if there is one thing that I find most difficult to do – if there is one thing that I remain most obstinate about – if there is one concept that I must re-learn time and time again, it is that of knowing how and when to say “no.” Especially to my family and those I love.
Carelessness in caring for Me leads to pushing beyond my limits. Convincing myself and others that, “I’m okay” or “It’s alright, I feel good today” or “I’ll rest later” only ends in an exhaustion that snowballs very quickly into increased disease activity and suffering. Suffering for me, and suffering for those around me. It was my inability to “think” that set me on this roundabout path to shedding a little ego today. “Brain fog”, or even sometimes more serious cognitive dysfunctions can be a symptom of Lupus as well as other autoimmune diseases. It is a symptom that I have struggled with to varying degrees since the beginning of my illness.
Over the past month or so, updating the website, or even my facebook page has been extremely difficult. It is the reason why my entries have decreased dramatically. I want to write, but the more I pursue the desire the farther away the reality becomes. Even reading has become cumbersome. I pick up books only to find my way through maybe two or three pages – reading paragraphs over and over again trying to connect thoughts. The same goes with my writing. What once flowed effortlessly now has become painfully slow.
Why? Why, when things seem so clear, do I let them get so out of control? I don’t have to go far to read my very own writings and think to myself, “Who IS that person?” And, “Where did she go?!?” Or sometimes I even wonder if my “togetherness” is a bit out of touch with reality! “Now this is the real world. Crazy, complicated and fast paced. Enlightenment is easy if you’re living in a hut on the top of a mountain (or in a hippie village as I was most recently told) but this is real life here, sister!”
Unable to see the answer to my question, I was at least able to understand that I was suffering. And that my suffering seemed a bit out of control. Yes, I have a disease that creates a tremendous amount of pain and there is not much I can do about that. But not getting enough sleep, not eating right, giving in to bad habits, not finding time to meditate because I am “too busy”, not reaching out for help, neglecting my physical appearance, reaching for a bottle of medication before a tall glass of water and a good nap – these things ARE in my control.
Knowing that, I went to my bookshelf and picked up Eckhart to help me out a bit. I knew I would not remember where to look, so I just grabbed The Power of Now, cracked it open and began to read. Funny how karma is…
I opened to page 33 – Chapter Two – Consciousness: The Way Out Of Pain. Subtitle: Create No More Pain In The Present.
“The greater part of human pain is unnecessary. It is self-created as long as the unobserved mind runs your life.”
This I know.
When I am tired, when I am overbooked, when one activity of the day blindly runs into the next activity of the day, when I eat on the run and neglect the sleep I need – there is no room for mindfulness. In fact, I am functioning on a mind run amok. Living in pure maintenance mode - minutes, hours, days and weeks melt into a current of life that neglects all in its path and leaves me falling into bed sick, exhausted and discontent.
This is SO true! Think about it. Food never looks so good as when you finally decide to go on a diet. “The intensity of the pain depends on the degree of resistance to the present moment.” If I’m hungry right now, and I tell myself that I am going to resist that hunger pain and not eat – the pain of not being able to eat can quickly become insurmountable. And I eat my chocolate cake anyway. The present moment can be quite painful. We will go to extremes not to suffer in its wake.
I don’t like not being able to take care of my family. I don’t like not being able to keep my home exactly as I used to. I don’t like not being able to be physically active. I don’t like staying home as others have their fun in the sun. I don’t like saying No. And sooner or later, it all becomes too painful. Moreover, if I am not careful, my unobserved mind – my mind run amok – will resist that pain at every turn. And inevitably what ensues is suffering.
The funny thing is, what are we moving so aimlessly fast towards? As we rush through our days – saying yes to everything and experiencing nothing – where are we going? What is the end result? Our illusion of time tricks us into thinking that there is some prize out there in the future. Happier kids, better life, more money, bigger house… out there – somewhere. When in reality, ALL WE EVER HAVE IS THIS VERY MOMENT. Make the Now the primary focus of your life and there is no more resistance. Instead of fighting reality – become part of it.
My reality is this. I have an illness that requires me to expend my energy very wisely. There are times when I can say “yes”, and there are times when I must say “no”. I can fight that with all my might and suffer great pain (with the illusion of success or superwomen-hood), or I can accept the present moment and be completely alive in it. Caring for the Now, I ensure a healthier future for my family and myself. It may mean staying home, it may mean dirty sheets for yet another week – or it may mean not being able to write or paint – but what could be more insane than opposing life itself? The irony of it all is that in what appears to be saying “No”, is actually saying “YES” to life. And once we say “YES”, life suddenly begins to work for us rather than against us.