POSTCARD #265: Chiang Mai: I’d decided to use this image for the header thinking the way I cope with my headache is an improvised thing, much like the way this traffic sign has been bent back into shape after something has crashed into it – then as I write this I’m distracted by wind chimes from the balcony of the next-door house, which suddenly play a perfect chord in the air. I slip into wakefulness from the dream of that which I’m held by, and become an extension of the wind-chime’s notes. Horizontal on the bed as if shipwrecked on a sandy beach. Waves rushing in to the shore crash-crash, and the whole thing receding back. Comes rushing in again, crash-crash-crash, becoming a form that shapes into the body of the sea rolling over on its side like a great animal trying to sleep in an enormous bed. Then I realize I’m awake and have to give my whole attention to the headache that lives with me… just looking at it, seeing it as it is.
Wind chimes strike groupings of notes like the random sound of birds in the trees. I’ve been reading about knowledge which is so completely at one with the thing it knows, there is complete understanding, complete absorption into that knowledge. I can understand how that could be – it is of course a description of events, rather than the thing itself. Seems amazing to me, being as far away as I am, living in the world of attachment, the automatic bonding, even with things I dislike; seeing that and learning, by necessity, the strategy of no-avoidance….
I’ve had this headache for long enough to know that how it is right now, is the kind of suffering I can accept and live with for the time being. I can open up to the presence of it, as a form of recognition, accepting it as it is. Just the ‘me,’ being like this, still slightly on-edge, alert for the spikes which appear sometimes – but no, not this time. It becomes an energy accumulating with the in-breath, disintegrating with the long out-breath like the waves at sea breaking on the shore. I can open up to and experience the fact that it’s here, then it’s collapsing again as the out-breath distances it, like a long golf course, or a road winding into a landscape.
Curious, interested, and seeing the headache I experience as the First Noble Truth… just this openness to it. The contemplation is about calm, steadiness and everything else is swept away in a storm of liking, disliking, wanting, not wanting. Remain firmly in that same place as the wave returns and there it is again but I don’t need to hold on to it by hating it, or seeing it as something somehow construed and thought to be ‘bad’. See all of that happening, see it disassembling, falling to pieces; form, feeling, perception, fabrications, consciousness… and the ‘I’ can vanish into the totality of it.
Time to get the headache into the shower and get on with things. Then I’m at my desk, and at some point in the mid-morning, see how it feels, take the meds, then I’m falling back into a world of no pain, stumbling at the wonder of it. The day gets through in a dull fogginess. Sleep, and next morning I wake up with the opportunity to be back in this place of mindfulness again…
“To know yourself as the Being underneath the thinker, the stillness underneath the mental noise, the love and joy underneath the pain, is freedom, salvation, enlightenment.” [Eckhart Tolle]
may you have rest
& well being
noble truths 🙂
Thanks again for your good wishes, the struggle with it becomes easier after you’ve trekked up the side of the mountain and down again a few times…
I wonder if you had tried Acupuncture and Reflexology for your headaches. I found a course of 10 treatments completely removed my headaches, as well as other issues in my system that were found to be related. Weekly Reflexology, helped to remove any toxins from my body and re-balance and fine tune my system. The results were amazing and I was utterly surprised and relieved! I now have an Acupuncture overall rebalancing every 3 weeks. It is something I would never have tried and it has been a turning curve to try other less familiar methods of healing, rather than continuing with the conventional. I wish you well. Blessings, Ashtara
Ashtara, thank you for your suggestion. I did try Acupuncture and Reflexology a long time ago, before this headache problem. I’m quite willing to return to these treatments but Post Herpetic Neuralgia is a condition where the nerves are damaged and send urgent signals to the brain in the form of pain. So I’m currently looking into a neurological treatment that focuses on that situation, pulsed radiofrequency, PRF. In the long term I may return to alternative treatments and procedures.
I wish you well, there is nothing more debilitating than severe headaches, I feel for you. I do believe that both of those therapies would help to relax and rebalance the rest of your body, as it too copes with your condition. Blessings
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Thanks for this lovely description of dhammafootsteps in your blog
Reblogged this on Sun in Gemini.
Thanks for the reblog Steven…
My pleasure. I love your work.
I hope you are continuing to take alpha lipoic acid. Hoping you feel better as time goes by! 🙂
Tom, I couldn’t obtain the alpha lipoic acid because of Thai import restrictions on anything that is thought to be medicinal. I got hauled up once before about a package containing homeopathic meds. Same kind of thing in India although I haven’t tried Amazon, but it’s generally unreliable. I’m going to UK tomorrow for 12 days it’s possible to get it then. I shall look for your original comment and get the details there.
I would suggest 200mg or 300mg taken twice daily. Keep taking it for as long as you can. It is a great antioxidant that, unlike many, penetrates the blood-brain barrier.
So sad about the strict import restrictions there. It’s just a type of vitamin. Governments!
Thanks Tom, it was harder to find that old comment than I thought, and you guessed that. I’m grateful…