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.
In our culture, we place a high emphasis on intellectual learning. Yet our personal growth seems to depend on how we translate what we read and hear into some deeper, possibly wordless understanding. Even Suzuki Roshi once said about his own (brilliant) lectures, "It is like giving you a recipe. It doesn't work. You cannot eat a recipe."
So how do we grow the teachings in our heart and in our body, and in the whir of New York City no less?
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.
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.