bhavaṅga


POSTCARD#380: Bangkok: I’m in the 8th week of my diet – three days approx 1450 calories per day, followed by four days approx 1500 calories per day. Then back to the three days again. I’ve managed the change in eating patterns without too much difficulty. It’s the long hours between meals that are the hardest.

Looking at my state of mind during these times, one thing that helps in the mornings in coping with the contractions of the empty stomach, is the remains of my Nortriptyline night medicine for the (PHN) headache condition I live with, and those chemicals may be still active in the dopamine receptors… neurological technospeak. Later in the morning when that medicine wears off I start the Neurontin and that goes for the rest of the day.

So today, I’m noticing there haven’t been any serious headaches and it’s been like this these last few days which is unusual. Does it have something to do with the way I’m managing the headache with pain meds and the same meds help with the hunger pangs? What I’m saying is, the reciprocal nature of the thing means I’m learning how to tolerate the hunger pangs at the same time as tolerating the headaches. Just allowing it to happen and there’s no conscious memory of it being painful.

It requires a certain kind of meditational attitude and I do have that, spending typically many hours seated in my chair with laptop on my knees, arms on each arm rest, and feet flat on the floor. and what might be a yawning cavern of hunger is simply a light, floating sensation because I’m in that meditational state “bhavaṅga” (luminous mind). “Bhavaṅga” occurs when there is no active cognitive processes going on. I’m in my chair, mind focused on nothing, or the space between things and this is the preferred state; agreeable enough to overlook the discomfort, therefore allowing the hours to pass in a gentle introspective mood.

Looking back on this whole thing, although I’d read about bhavaṅga a long time ago, I simply stumbled upon the way to do it in these circumstances; noticing how the body reacts, responds, and the mind reveals there’s a slightly deeper awareness in here, dormant until something like the correct password is entered then it’s activated… and I don’t need to know the password of course. It’s enough to know that this is how it works.

All kinds of other difficulties however and this morning is particularly awkward because I have to go and see the Neurologist about the headaches, and I need to have a blood test done before the appointment. So they tell me I have to fast (take no food) before the blood test. It means I can’t have breakfast until after 11.30 am – four hours later than the usual breakfast time, and I cannot take my headache medicine on an empty stomach, so if a serious headache comes along, no medicinal relief… I have to put up with it.

A ‘self’ arises, comes into being full of anxiety and scenarios of distress, anger and outrage… so it’s not hard to understand that this embodied identity I call ‘me’ is just not helpful at all. No, thank you. I will not get into this, and drawing confidence from the reserve of underlying calm, I’m able to find that space before it happens, and wait there for a moment until bhavaṅga arises, then watching the in-breath, the out-breath…

When I got to the Out Patients, the blood test was done then into the sandwich shop and the feeding frenzy (I must have eaten more than the approx. 450 calorie limit per meal). After that there was the medicine, three capsules of forget-me-nots in their crinkly acetate enclosures with a couple of gulps of water from a bottle I carry with me. I noticed again, to be honest, there hadn’t been any strong headaches that whole morning.

In to see the neurologist and she asked me how I was, I said yes ok, told her about the diet, now 2 months and about the meds, just last week I noticed I was forgetting to take the Neurontin doses. So I thought I’d try to intentionally reduce the Neurontin and it was easy, no problem. Now I’m taking less than 3000 grams per day, reduced by nearly half, and there are headaches but I’m able to put up with it until it eases off and lessens intensity.

That’s how it feels, but I don’t yet have the words to describe it adequately. Pain Management of headaches aligned with hunger pangs due to dieting for nearly 2 months (weight loss: 12 kg = 26.4 pounds). Also something learned is that the bhavaṅga practice can alter perception which enables me to endure the all-round discomfort better than before.

 

12 thoughts on “bhavaṅga

  1. That sounds like great progress. Good to hear your change of diet seems to positively affect your state of being and helps you to go into meditative state. I don’t know much about dieting and all, but i do read that using the proper food can improve health a lot. So it’s worth examining this for myself too. Thanks for sharing tiramit. Very insightful and mindful piece of writing 🙂

    • Thanks for these kind words Pieter, I sometimes feel that every day I get a little further on in my objectives. Other times I’m so very far away, that’s why there has to be a shock to the system. The diet starts off as a detox then it makes itself more clear – it goes alongside the mind revelations. then it is what it is and I’m looking for another direction, inspired by that initial step.

  2. This is so interesting T. Well done in bringing mindfulness to diet and how the body is responding.
    When I feel hunger pains, I imagine that all the fat holding cells are releasing fat into the system and its being washed away.I drink a glass of water to help the flushing out of cells, and it helps me fuller for a while.
    Its something to celebrate as well as tolerate.
    I ope you continue to make good progress on all fronts 🙏

    • Thanks Val, I tried the 3 day diet a couple of times many years ago, this time it was a more focused approach. What happened was a complete surprise to me and I’m reminded that consciousness sometimes reveals itself when you least expect it. I like your idea it’s something to celebrate

  3. Yes it’s good to hear your pain is getting less… certainly a celebration. AND obviously this diet is good for your body! My body loves organic salads and ratatouille, apple stew… it ensures my microbiome, good bacteria in the gut that feeds all organs, the vagus nerve too! Allowing the body/mind to stay in balance. I’m always holding your wellness and highest potential high❤️ much love, Barbara x

  4. Pingback: the allowing of it | dhamma footsteps

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