Friday, April 04, 2008


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.


Hinsley Ford said...

Hello dearest.

Yes. I think no matter how much we get caught up in medications, surgeries, procedures, meditation, etc...there will still be pain there. It's quite something to wrap the old brain around, at least for me. As long as I don't think too far ahead, I can accept it. I can accept this moment, and that's about it.

As far as meditation, I understand where you're coming from. I am Christian, pray daily etc, but am open to people have their forms of religion and spirituality. When I meditate, I meditate on colors, and that seems to help me. I think of colors that soothe me, and picture myself either encircled with white, soft green and blue...or I imagine I floating gently on a raft on a calm lake, with some gentle sun in the sky and a cool breeze...somehow it helps. That is, until the shark comes out of nowhere, or some other killer fish, and they my eyes fly open, and I'm done.

Glad I could catch up on your blog. I am bit behind in my reading with everyong, but getting there...


Hinsley Ford said...

oh, and excuse all of those ugly typos. :)

Silliyak said...

I believe you would find a tradition of meditation in most, if not all Christian traditions. Chanting would probably fall into that catagory.
Glad you and the dog are improving, and I'll bet that makes your lesser half feel better also. (cause most guys want to "fix" anything that's wrong and feel pretty helpless when we can't.

julia said...

Hey, Hinsley! Nice to see you back in my corner of the woods!

i think it surprised me that the whole meditation thing came down to calming my mind--i do great with visualizing my breaths in and out, but they have given us different ideas for visualization. Actually a rainbow was one. i just can't believe how much training it takes to slow down the average mind!

And dear Silly, now that you mention it i remember the Gregorian chants from my college music class! i loved those. And yes, my lesser half also wants to fix things, so it's been a rough week or so for him for sure!

Unknown said...

I am so glad that this is starting to work for you. We need one of those clinics around here.

Great Big Hugs to My Sissy Queenie.