mindfulness of circumstances

POSTCARD#276: Bangkok: I’m in a taxi stuck in traffic on the way back from the supermarket with four bags of groceries and can’t understand why everything seems so difficult today. Okay, take a deep breath… then I notice the different deities fixed on the driver’s dashboard, unusual to see them placed together. There’s Ganesh the elephant-headed god, the Buddha and familiar wandering saints. How to read this? Seems to me it’s a cautionary statement, blessings for everyone entering this space and mindfulness of our circumstances, whatever they might be. The blessing for me is the headache is gone, lessened to almost nothing. The mindfulness part of it, I don’t see until now, is that things are difficult because I’m trying to get too much done, too fast and this level of energy is not easy to work with.

Besides, part of me is holding back, unwilling to say the pain is entirely gone because the child in me thinks it might come back if I say it’s gone… but yes, it’s gone – for now at least, it’s gone. I remember this hesitation from the last time; free from the headache for a month. That was the ‘nerve block’, an injection to numb the nerve that’s causing the pain, and a relatively superficial treatment compared with the Pulsed Radio Frequency Procedure I’m now recovering from.

The area in the head where the headache used to be is no longer the catastrophe that it was. It’s now reduced to a flickering light in the darkness like a failed neon tube that needs to be replaced. This is how it is right now; the treatment I’ve just had is not a cure, it’s temporary, the headache will come back when the numbed nerve recovers, in 3 months maybe sooner. For now I’m free of it, and there’s a great urgency suddenly to cover lost ground. At the same time a steadying hand to hold the horses, let’s see it in the longer term.

I woke very early this morning from a strange dream that I was blind. Then totally awake and I realized I wasn’t blind it was just the darkness of the room at 4.30 in the morning. I’d broken through the heaviness of pain meds to help me sleep, I’ve been using for months… maybe they’re not needed now. So I pulled myself up in the folded leg position on the bed, with a pile of pillows to sit on and the wide-eyed alertness became the meditational state of awakenedness immediately.

A curious light illuminating the space behind the eyes, slightly to the right where the flickering light of headache remains. The focus shifts to the breath entering the body, impact of incoming air in the nasal passage… for that moment revisiting the birth experience, initial sensory awareness sweeps through the body/mind organism; earth, water, fire and air; the turned-inside-out experience of being born into the world. Inner world, outer world connected by the sensory mechanisms. Mind linked with form and function of the body, seemingly trapped in this limited temporality; thin skin of eyelid slides over surface of smooth eyeball and moist lips lying one on top of the other.

Just this… glad the ordeal is over, conscious of sensation and to what extent the pain is absent, here and now. Not able to see it as wellness, choosing instead to think of it as well-being.

“… your real nature is not-knowing. It is a total absence of all that you think you are, which is all that you are not. In this total absence of what you are not, there is presence. But this presence is not yours. It is the presence of all living beings. You must not try to be open. You are open.” [Jean Klein]

photo: traffic jam on the way back from the supermarket

23 thoughts on “mindfulness of circumstances

  1. So happy for you Tiramit! I did think of you on the day of the procedure. I’m sure it will be wonderful to be pain free, if but for a limited time. I’m sure I’d feel like you and want to rush out and do so many things while I had the new pain-free energy. Enjoy!

  2. For now it is … it is enough. Hold that inner child close and let him know that everything is okay for now. Meet the adult ego mind and soften around it. Today brings physical peace. Its enough. Its more than enough to be grateful for.

    • Thanks Val, it’s good to be reminded it’s more than enough to be grateful for. It’s the inner child and this word ‘gratitude’ that extends to cover everything…

  3. I am pleased and relieved for your sake that you finally have wellness and are pain-free. It must be a huge relief. Do take time, allow this new state to settle, be gentle, allow your body to adjust. Blessings Ashtara

    • Thanks Ashtara, it’s good advice particularly ‘allow this new state to settle’. I’m still not sure to what extent I’m pain free, the doc says wait for a week, so maybe it will improve further in the next few days. I’m happy enough with it as it is.

  4. Tiramit, I am so happy for you that the new treatment has been so powerfully effective. In the now, as long as it can last, and then do it again, I imagine. But what relief it must be for you. I am so happy to read this! And impatience, unsavory as it may be, is a sign that the distraction of extreme pain has receded to such an extent that the urge to get somewhere faster asserts itself. I love the taxi deities that remind you of your practice and the reminder to breathe and simply be.

    • Thanks Sunny, the urge to get somewhere faster asserts itself now the grip of extreme pain has gone, as you say. This is it, I wake up each day and there’s just that tingling feeling on the right side of the head, where it used to be; the right occipital nerve. So yes, there’s an opportunity now to have it done again when the pain free state has receded, and each time after that. Meditation and mindfulness will help to become familiar with the subtle characteristics of the condition more and more.

    • Thanks Melinda, there’s only a tingling feeling where the pain used to be. I’m reaching out from where things are, tentatively widening the boundaries of pain-free living…

    • Thanks Karen, wellness and well-being, I was wondering if you had any thoughts on the subject. For me it’s feeling good about a situation I don’t necessarily feel good about all the time. It’s having sufficient clarity to see, and watching how things change. The sense of being the witness must be the way to go…

      • I believe I, too, sit in the situation, as you say the sense of being the witness, which I believe Michael A. Singer calls the”seat of self.” Firmly situated, there is the sense of well-being, whereas wellness seems more a lasting state, although it is not a state I know. Neither good nor bad that but just not a state I know, or is it? I ask the question because from the “seat of self” well-being is what I know. It is just a matter of my keeping myself seated. And you? More thoughts?

      • Yes, there’s this sense of asking the question from the point of view of the witness, or “seat of self”, and I’m glad you gave me that Michael A. Singer quote, it is ‘firmly situated’, as you say, a grounded observation. Maybe it’s just a matter of keeping that seat and that’s enough, observing how there are things that’ll unseat me; powerful emotion, a short flash of resentment, followed by anger. These are ‘seen’ same as everything else, but they need to be really short, instants that are let go of like hot coals. If not, I’ll lose my ‘seat’ for a while and there’s that period of being totally lost, before I get situated again…

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