Enter the Pain
Pain does not really have an 'ugly head'. We say that pain rears its ugly head simply because pain is (in most cases) not a pleasant experience. However, pain is just another emotional red flag, another physical or physiological function of the body to let us know that something ain't right!
This is true. Well, if you read the last post, you know that I have a beautiful relationship with my true Self, my essence. But, as a mere human who is not fully-realized, I also experience all five functions of Shiva (click here if you are not familiar with the five functions; if you have no idea what I'm talking about; if you once knew but have since forgotten; or if you merely want to read a post from my early archives. Whatever floats your boat keeps you afloat, and that's fine with me.)
Getting back to my point, Shiva is the Creator, Sustainer, Destroyer, The One who veils us from the Truth, and the Bestower of Grace. These are his five functions. Thank God, I do not spend a lot of my time with the veil of ignorance over my head, so to speak. I am usually privy to the wondrous source of Bliss and Joy that is contained within the depths of my Heart Center. Yet, last night I had a terrible case of deception. I couldn't find my 'center' because I was too busy chasing my tail. I was so unbalanced that I didn't even realize that I was chasing my tail!
I let myself get a bit overwhelmed with my current situation (being out of work, my health, etc.). Rather than checking in to see how I was doing both physically and mentally, I kept pushing forward--knowing that I needed to meet certain deadlines and attend certain meetings that I wasn't looking forward to participating in. Lot's of anxiety was coming up. I could feel it brewing in the pit of my stomach. Nevertheless, I didn't stop to meditate, to figure out where I needed to be paying attention to the pent up tension in my body so that I could release it.
Well, last night I got totally overwhelmed. For the life of me, I could not find my center. This is a terribly awful place to be; especially when you KNOW that the current anxiety and tension is all a state of mind. Actually, it is all created by the mind, but takes on physical traits when not given attention at the onset. I cried a lot--which is actually a very important way to release toxins. However, I woke up with the pit of my stomach still tied into knots, and my chest was tight as hell.
I went for a walk this morning, and felt the onset of a panic attack. I felt sweaty and faint. Oh, man! I thought. How did I let myself get this out of control? I haven't had a panic attack in YEARS! I stopped exactly where I was on the sidewalk; listened to the voice in my head (You're going to faint! Better call someone!); then I turned around and took a shorter route home. I counted every step:
Inhale for four steps...1..2..3..4..
Hold breath for four steps...1..2..3..4..
Exhale for four steps...1..2..3..4...
Hold breath for four steps...1..2..3..4..
After doing about three rounds of this walking meditation, I was feeling much better. You see, the reason I was getting the panic attack symptoms were because I was so anxious that I was holding my breath (or, at the most, I was taking shallow breaths). I walked through the parking lot of a local church, and thanked God for helping me. I turned around to take one more look at the church, and discovered the moon out in full daylight, seeminly hanging right above the cross. Om Guru Om!
After I ate my lunch, I emailed my friend Sally, just to tell her how I was feeling. I was sick of identifying with the physical body and the pain. She told me to love myself. This was profound. She also reminded me of a very simple meditation technique to release the anxiety--or any other junk that was stuck in my body. Of course, I followed her advice and had a wonderful meditation. At first it didn't feel too wonderful! I sat on my cushion, did my formal prayers, and then sat. I just sat and simply felt the state of my physical body. I was so tense! I focused on the parts of the body that were filled with tension, breathed into those areas, and then-- on the out-breath-- released the tension. I wondered how long it had been since I actually checked in to witness the state of my body and mind.
I ended up repeating one of my favorite mantras, too. I let myself sing the mantra in any way that felt appropriate. After about 75 minutes, I was totally in peace. I could feel 'Aum', the primordial sound, reverberating in my body as I sang the mantra.
In closing, I would like to offer you this: You can't run from your pain. You have to deal with it when it rears its beautiful head. Pain is an indication that something is a bit off. Something needs attention. It's very important to check in with ourselves to see how we are doing. And, as Sally says, we need to do this breathing out the tension meditation repeatedly.
I thank Sally for being there for me, and always offering me her love and support and her infinite wisdom. And I thank all of you who have offered your good wishes and prayers.
tags: jaibhakti, Sally Kempton, meditation, pain management, spirituality