When i heard that my pain management classes would include meditation, i admit to a little trepidation. In my mind the word "meditation" goes straight to visions of Buddhas, little clinkly bells and incense. Since we are not allowed scented things in class, the incense would be out, leaving Buddhas and bells.
Being a professing Christian, i had some questions. But logically Kaiser healthcare wouldn't be allowed to promote any specific religion. So my brain then went to "let's see what this is about and how it can benefit me."
My thoughts were, "i can do anything as long as i frame it in my relationship with God." This became my visual--julie in the center of a large-ish picture frame (a tasteful one, of course.) And that frame is the representation of God: all-encompassing, holding me in His center. i've sensed Him around me since i was a child, helping to reign in the chaos of my home.
My thoughts went from that picture to the thought that, anything fitting inside that frame of His will can be used.
In class, what meditation has come down to is training yourself to still the mind, toss away the million worrisome thoughts, even simply the million neutral thoughts that run through my mind at any given moment. And who is God anyway? Peace in the midst of the storm. Oddly, once my mind is calmed i am actually in a better place to be receptive to God.
Most of the meditations we've tried have involved watching our breathing, constantly refocusing our mind on the breathing and off the "i need to pick up milk" kinds of thoughts. Or the ones that kept haunting me all through the week without Dynamo: "oh i hope he's doing okay!" "i hope he gets to come home soon" "how much is this gonna cost??!?" i've discovered my breaths have shapes--curlier when i am first watching them and trying to concentrate, less curly and more of a wavy shape as i focus in, and wonderfully smooth and swishy when i'm the calmest. Really. They do.
And do you know what? The focusing on my breathing to chase away what they call at class "monkey mind" when your thoughts are jumping all over the place, actually lessens my pain. We also have relaxation sessions, and honestly i'm not sure what the difference might be, since they both have the same effect on me. And between those and the gentle, breath controlled exercises, the stress i hold in my body because of the constant pain lessens.
The sad part of it is, as much as we work through finding a medication regime that brings my pain level down to one that will allow me to move on with my life rather than be frozen in it, i may always have some pain, i may always have to monitor how much i do ("pacing" as it's called in class) to keep the pain down. But these tools help me to have hope again. Already i am less sore in the mornings. Already i'm learning to let the worries go for bits of time.
Hopefully the next few weeks will continue to teach me.