Pain, Suffering and Despair
Since last May, I have had Trigeminal Neuralgia. Also called the Suicide Disease, it is a rare and debilitating nerve condition that produces excruciating stabs of one-sided facial pain. Anti-seizure drugs that help the pain had serious side effects and Gamma Knife surgery — targeted radiation to stop the pain— was not successful.
For months, I was unable to drive or otherwise function and got down to 95 pounds. There was an outpouring of support from friends, family and from neighbors who brought us food for months. Late January, I had successful Balloon Compression surgery at Mayo Clinic that damaged the trigeminal nerve and stopped the pain. I am slowly climbing back into life while adapting to the surgery’s side effects.
I did a lot of inner work while bed-ridden with pain and debilitating drug side effects. My state of mind ranged from hope to deep despair and these 7- minute exercises recorded by Kristi Rietz were a lifeline. Based on compassion practices of John Makranski, I hope that they can help uplift you as well. Heartfelt thanks, Kristi.
Most of us are suffering right now, both from personal pain and losses, and from despair about our country and our planet. Reality seems unreal and many of us feel that we have lost our bearings. Collectively, we are deeply divided, angry and full of blame. Although ancient wisdom and scientific evidence remind us that nothing is really separate, we continue to be driven by the same fears and the “us/them” mentality that has fueled endless suffering throughout human history.
As we travel our paths and do whatever we do, may we include essential elements of tai chi practice in our attitudes, conversations and actions. Tai chi is not just an exercise, it is a way of life. Tai chi teaches us how to center, ground and align, mentally, physically and spiritually. This state is ideal for dealing with pain and fear, stress and conflict, confusion and frustration. Stay focused on this practice in any situation, as often as you can remember. Move from a centered place, from the eye of the hurricane where there is stillness, rather than being swept away in the surrounding chaos.
Remember:the same elements lie within you as in the people and actions you oppose. Nothing and nobody is truly separate.
As you Travel Your Path:
If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.
HH Dalai Lama
In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.
HH Dalai Lama
“You must be the change you wish to see”
She who is centered in the Tao can go where she wishes without danger.
She perceives the universal harmony, even amid great pain,
because she has found peace in her heart.
Tao Te Ch’ing
You must watch my life, how I live, eat, sit, talk, behave in general. The sum total of all those in me is my religion.
Kindness is my religion.
HH Dalai Lama
Center to get in touch with your body and your surroundings. Focus on slow, natural breathing to help calm your mind, relax your body and bring your attention into the present moment…
Take a few moments to practice Centering at any time…while sitting, standing or lying down. Bring your best intention to the exercise (love, joy, wonder, compassion) then practice it as you go about your day.
- Bring your attention into the present moment.
- Feel the movement in your body as you breathe.
- Sense your feet and the earth that supports all physical life.
- Sense your head and whatever inspires and uplifts your spirit.
- Sense your hands and fingers, feel life force within and around them.
- Contemplate: we are all in this together.
- Now, listen, look, smell; sense your surroundings.
Remember, you can choose to operate from your center now and in every moment
Love to you, Tricia