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.
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.
One of the reasons for meditating -- sitting still and focusing on an object, such as the breath -- is to train in tapping into the calm space in your awareness so that you can find that space in the midst of chaos.
I’m not against correcting our posture or body on principle. I wish all it took to rid ourselves of chronic pain and tension was figuring the right angle or position, and tapping our body into place. It’s such a seductive offer, that we need only arrange our body and then get on with the rest of our day.
I object to correcting our posture on practical grounds; it doesn’t work.
As a child I was often told that starving children in China would be happy to have the mushy peas I carefully picked out from the Campbell's vegetable soup and left in the bowl. I felt bad for the starving children, but that wasn't going to make me like the mushy peas -- or the occasional lima beans that kept them company after everything else was gone.