True confessions: living and loving with pain

ImageSo, here’s a confession.

Today, I’m working with one of the deepest teachers of my life:

Chronic pain.

This isn’t a teacher I’ve talked about a lot. 

It’s not glamorous or attractive.

It isn’t a teacher I wanted to have.

Pain never is.

But, today, I’m waking up for the umpteenth morning with enough pain in my hands, wrists and elbows that just lifting a glass of water is excruciating.  Aaack!  I live on a farm, these days.  I love it.  We do tons of things with or hands.  Our hands make the farm work.  And… my hands just don’t know how to do it, some days.

Pain like this has been a significant teacher for long periods of my life.  It’s been so bad at times that it’s made me wonder if I would die, or live the rest of my life curled into a grumpy, crabbed ball.  It’s scary and frustrating and un-fun, and it makes it challenging to be the happy, capable, engaged person I like to be.  In this, it’s forced me to look at my deepest stories about what matters, who I think I “should” be, and to move consciously towards loving solutions.  It’s been my deepest teacher about self forgiveness, acceptance and loving what is.  It’s shown me how to “show up” even when showing up is difficult.  It’s been a driving factor in my commitment to yoga, dance, healthy eating, personal development and prayer.  It’s one of the main reasons why I have such strong discipline to maintain and sustain my practices. 

They make my life liveable.

So, today I am practicing what I preach about the value of authenticity by sharing this experience. 

Because, I know I’m not alone.

If you deal with pain, here are a few things to do:

  • Keep doing what you love.  Find gentle, modified ways to do whatever it is that you love to do.  Do the deep ego work you need to do around how you do those things.  If you can’t push as hard, run as strong, or do things as fast as you want, that’s a part of the teaching to be present with what is and embrace change.  Maybe there is a creative opportunity to enjoy new rhythms, subtlety or depth?
  • Seek company.  Don’t isolate.  Share with significant others and friends.  Take the risk to be vulnerable and seen.  Chronic pain is often invisible, so don’t make yourself invisible in your experience.
  • Move.  Yoga, dance, hiking, swimming.  Find your “thing” that you can do, and do it.  Stasis loves stasis.  Health loves movement.  Choose health.
  • Feel all your feelings.  Find a safe space with a coach, therapist, healer or within ceremony, to feel all your feelings about what is going on for you.  Underneath chronic pain are often deep past traumas or issues of self love and self worth.  Your significant other or friends may or may not be able to hold the charge of your feelings, respect them fully, or not take them personally.  So, make sure you have at least one person or space that can hold you in the totality of your experience.
  • Practice Gratitude.  Yes.  It’s still true, you have a life, a body, a human heart.  And, it is possible, on some level, to love the pain, because it is showing you just how much you love your life.  Even now, as I write this, in the power of the word, my experience of my own pain is shifting. 
  • Choose your mood.  Loving in the face of pain is deep practice.  Pain twists your mind.  So, it becomes a deep practice of mindfulness to recognize that the pain is not you so you can reside in awake awareness and choose the set-point of your mood.  This does not mean being inauthentic.  It means the mind is your most powerful ally in how you receive your own experience and move outwards into the world.
  • Remove inflammatory foods from of your diet.  Start with nightshades:  potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers.  Other possible culprits:  caffeine, alcohol, gluten, soy, sugar, impure water (that includes water from any plastic bottle).
  • Seek natural beauty.  Sunlight, warm ocean water and hot springs.  Period.

These are not, of course, clinical recommendations.  Depending on what you are dealing with, different kinds of dietary, holistic and/or medical support may be needed. 

But, the thing is, pain or no pain, the reason we’re here is to love.  I gotta live my life one way or the other, and I intend to love it.  So, today I’m making an even bigger commitment to embrace the teaching of this cycle of pain and to reach into myself and towards my community and loved ones to stay connected, stay real, and heal. 

And, if this speaks to you, I’m with you.  Let’s live!

Love,

Samantha

 

What to do upon waking

ImageWaking up is sacred business.  In the moments between dreaming and waking, the universe changes.  That is, the universe as you (and you really are a whole universe!) shifts consciousness in a truly basic and radical way.  When we are asleep, we dream the world awake.  When we are awake, we live it.  How you surf the numinous bridge between your dreaming and your waking matters to the way experience meaning, authenticity, connection and fulfillment in your life.  Do you live in and create from the architectures of your soul’s dreaming, or do you live as a lonely wanderer in a world that alienates your essence?  The choice is up to you.  It’s all about making the bridge between your true creative capacity and your daily life.  The moments between sleeping and waking hold powerful keys to becoming the You that you dream you can be.

What do you DO with your dreams?  Literally.  What is the first thing you DO upon waking?  The difference between really “inspired” people and other people is that inspired people DO something with their guidance.  Everyone gets inspiration.  But it takes focus to let that stream of big information flow through you into words and actions, blogs and art pieces, conversations and businesses.  It takes attention and diligence to repeatedly create a living bridge between your dreams and the behaviors and physical forms of your life.   But, it’s pretty much the only game worth playing while living a human life.  That is, if you want to know and feel and experience the crazy awesome pleasure that comes from creating in integrity with who you really ARE. So, you might as well get GOOD at it.

How do you wake yourself?  What thoughts are habitual at that tender moment of bridging this world and the other world of dreamtime?  Do you pause to receive your dreams?  And do you take the time to thank your life and pray your way into the day?

Here’s some tips from my own practice of navigating waking.

What do I do upon waking:

Listen.  Stay as still and as quiet as possible and listen to the tender bridge between my dreams and my waking.  Occasionally, I will write them down.

A yawning big-cat stretch.  Taking a few moments to feel the soft animal of my body.

Here’s what my inner self talk sounded like:

Long listening silence, simply feeling.

“Good morning beauty.  Good morning dreams.  Good morning breath.  (Big breath!)

Thank you for my life.”

Listening to my dreams:

What often comes for me, these days, is something like a directive.  This blog, for example.  This is what came through my dreams to DO, to SHARE, to co-create a more awesome and evolutionarily optimal conversation with my world.  But, sometimes, what comes is visions that aren’t so easily translated.  These are fun.  Other times, what comes is the need to feel into something disturbing, or to let myself thing and feel long and hard about some old unresolved loss.  It is always a healing opportunity.  And, if I am honest with myself (about my honest feelings, pleasant or not) and present with the dream images themselves, the healing bundle always reveals itself.  Dreams can be subconscious or superconscious, lucid or non-lucid.  All of them are valuable.  The more present you become to them, the more lucid and superconscious they often become, and the more powerfully they inform the living of your life.

Remember, even if you feel grumpy or stiff or a bit hung over, this is YOUR day:

All the world: the bird, the dawn, the smallest green thing, is saying to you, “LOVE YOUR LIFE.”  All that life wants from you is that you soften and open to living.

It’s up to you to listen and to STAY AWAKE.

How to gain leverage in your personal universe

Say YES to the beauty around you. Seek beauty to heal your soul.

Life is THE miracle.

Once upon a time consciousness birthed itself into form… Over time, the miriad, ever-learning form shaped itself into a very specific happening called your life…

Right now, you are having the opportunity to live as a moving, breathing, perceiving, feeling, thinking bundle of LIFE, of consciousness having an experience of itself – an experience called YOU.

This is just about the greatest, most mind-blowing miracle EVER.

So, are you ready to choose your life?

This is the way the mystic, the shaman and the practical visionary – an every day person just like you – can gain real leverage in your personal universe.  It’s an ancient truth, and a powerfully present opportunity.

So.

Again, today – not yesterday – but today – expand to meet the actual conditions of your life as an opportunity to learn, to love, to connect, to give, to receive and to co-create with the evolving beauty-web of the universe.

Just for today – notice if you expand to meet the challenges and gifts each moment, or if you are in a biology and narrative of contraction. (You are a binary system. You can not do both at the same time.) Notice how you shape your awareness in each moment – on the phone, in the car, as you make dinner, when you talk to your partner or your co-workers.

Notice and choose.

Exhale and expand.

Just for today – move, dance, return to your body, taste the sweetness of your breath and return to your center. HERE is the creative moment. NOW is evolution’s favorite location. Choose the only life you have – the one you have right here and right now.

Life is ALWAYS available for you to CHOOSE IT. This is the essence of resiliency, creativity, and that mysterious quality of total immersion called FLOW.

And… what’s even cooler, is that life (the universe, god, goddess, whatever you call it) WILL respond to your YES! So, shift YOUR pattern – it’s so simple – it’s a choice.

I’ll meet you there.

Love,

Samantha