I was planning to write a post today about holiday gift-giving and how we're all under so much pressure to buy presents that we forget what it's like to be generous. Except on Saturday I started to feel pain around my right eye. I thought it was probably from grinding my teeth (I have TMJ) but by Sunday afternoon the pain had increased and redness appeared underneath my bottom eyelid.
Very early tomorrow I will be getting on a plane and heading off to a fairly remote retreat center in Colorado. Very early. The first flight leaves at 5 a.m., which means leaving the house around 2:30 a.m. to allow for check-in and security and all that.
I don't have to tell you that the world is a mean place. You know that -- you're on the Internet, which some days seems like nothing more than a place to share hatred and rage and stories of the awful way people treat other beings. It can feel overwhelming.
My mom recently heard about an organization that grants senior citizens' wishes, like those groups that send terminally ill children and their families to Disney World, but this was for regular seniors with no special issues. This led her to think about what she'd wish for, she told me.
Pain is tough, of course, but the thoughts and feelings of shame which pain can stir up are the real nightmare. In my own history and my private practice teaching adults with pain, feelings of shame are never far behind a chronic pain condition. In our culture, it seems easy to interpret pain or loss of function as a personal failure.
You’ve heard of eight-minute abs, but have you heard of an eight-minute body scan?
This short embodiment practice is for when you’re lost in worry, feeling a bit frantic, or out of touch with your body. In this audio, I’ll guide you to include the felt sensations of your body, from the soles of your feet to the crown of your head. It doesn’t require any special powers of concentration, just eight minutes, which, by the way, is the approximate time it takes light photons from the sun to reach Earth. See how much can happen in eight minutes?
Excerpted from Toni Bernhard'sHow to Be Sick. In this book, Bernhard shares ways to make “being sick” the heart of a spiritual practice — and through truly learning how to be sick, learn how to live a life of equanimity, compassion, and joy. In the selection below, she contemplates the Buddha’s teaching that life is suffering.