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Posts Tagged ‘strength’

StrongEnoughI have recently been diagnosed with a very-reparable issue with my spine.  I was told that with support and treatment it could be fully recovered within 9-12 months, on average.

I wasn’t happy to hear the news, but I wasn’t upset, either.  I’ve had pain that I didn’t realize was from something that could actually be fixed in a year or less. I’ve lived with frequent (or even constant) pain for almost two decades now thanks to hyperacusis, so that was a welcome idea.

The real reason I wasn’t upset though is that I have already struggled with and overcome other health issues.  My hyperacusis has become much better over the past year, and I am no longer very limited by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. These haven’t gotten better all on their own.  They have only improved as I improved my own confidence in my ability to overcome, and my belief I was strong enough for the journey.

To turn the corner, I had to accept that I was already strong enough to win out against the challenges I faced. I had to recognize that I didn’t need anybody or anything to fix me, because I wasn’t broken. I just happen to have a body that doesn’t work the same as most others, so it’s up to me to master the skills of living within it. I had to find that space within me that held that strength, that wisdom, and let it guide me forward. After many years of riding a roller coaster of upswings and downswings, somehow I finally learned to hold on to that center.

My helper on overcoming this latest challenge also believes that only we can heal ourselves; medicine just helps us in the process. She reminded me of how often people give up hope before overcoming their challenges, and asked if I might write down some things about how I overcame my own. I didn’t think I really had that much to say, because I can’t really think of things to say that I haven’t already read elsewhere.

That said, I do remember being helped by reading of others’ journey, and also that I tend to discount my own road as being pretty day-to-day, as it happens to be the one I’ve spent my days in. So I’m going to shrug at myself, and see if I can’t try to share some things about what I’ve faced, and how I’ve overcome.

I think I’m strong enough for that. 🙂

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So, there was that break I took.  I suppose I invited it by starting to really focus on enjoying a positive association with everything.  That is how it tends to work: set yourself onto a path, and it likes to raise itself up to help you really learn how to walk it.

There has been a number of things that have carried with them their own positive association.  Many of these were easier to enjoy positively because I had decided to find that open connection and foster it.  I’m also now in a much better place than I was two weeks ago.

It was quite a chaotic path I took, however.  So much had to be brought up for examination and worked through that I just didn’t have the words to come over and share.  It was a very internal process, and it took all I had to process it all and still be there for the people here in my life.

Accepting that was part of my process, too.  I knew I wasn’t coming here and posting little thoughts, and I had to accept that despite my resolution this year, it simply wasn’t time.  Trying to make it “time” just because I felt obligated would have cost me for no practical purpose.

As someone recently told me, I need to learn when to be “selfish” in order to secure what I need.  Well, I’ve been told that a number of times, but it’s a lesson I’m finally learning.

May this next fortnight bring me lessons on how to enjoy a smooth and rewarding ride, in a way that supports what I need without frivolously costing anyone.

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I’m sitting here processing the news that a loved one has lost a loved one whom I didn’t know well, but treasure for his place in my loved one’s life. I’m too far away to be able to offer my direct support, so I’m putting extra focus in my heart to give the indirect support I can.

It’s putting my mind on how we each process sorrow. I’m turning to my own spiritual gumbo of “Christian Zen Taoist” and so on and so forth… and realizing how tough it can be sometimes to communicate exactly how I experience the world and the people who share it with me, particularly in times like this.

I know I’ve written before that when I consider the Buddhist ideal of “non-attachment”, I view it similar to how Alan Watts spoke of “not getting hung up about things”. It’s not that we don’t develop deep and meaningful connections; rather, we practice holding in our hearts and minds the interconnectedness of all things when those individual connections are severed.

It can be a pretty painful practice while we recover from a severed connection, though.

In a well-lived life, there will be people, places and things we will love. We will treasure when they are near, and miss them when they are gone. We will feel bright joy and tranquil comfort, and if we practice we can even feel those warmths deeply while we are within them. We can also feel hot anger and cold sorrow, and it’s important to practice feeling those consciously as well. We need to not fear painful emotions, nor get caught up in the idea of them. We need to develop the strength and courage to walk through the fire and ice of our own soul, without imagining that they are anything greater than any other step on our journey to becoming skillful, powerful human hearts.

Tougher, yes. But not greater.

I think that’s part of the practice, too. Letting it be tough. Letting it feel senseless. Letting the emotions wash right over us and even carry us away for a little while, if that’s the path we’re on. There’s nothing to be afraid of. Take care things don’t get too carried away, sure, but there is nothing to fear in letting ourselves feel anger, or sorrow, or fear. We have these emotions because we’re trying to tell ourselves something, or work through something. So by sitting with ourselves and letting these lessons flow through us, we can get where we’re headed and set the baggage aside once we’ve gotten all we need out of it.

I think I’ve talked myself out on this for the moment, so I’ll just share a bit from Alan Watts’ words from his Lecture on Zen:

Jon-Jo said ‘the perfect man employs his mind as a mirror. It grasps nothing, it refuses nothing. It receives but does not keep.’ And another poem says of wild geese flying over a lake, ‘The wild geese do not intend to cast their reflection, and the water has no mind to retain their image.’ In other words this is to be–to put it very strictly into our modern idiom–this is to live without hang-ups, the word ‘hang- up’ being an almost exact translation of the Japanese _bono_ and the Sanskrit _klesa_, ordinarily translated ‘worldly attachment,’ though that sounds a little bit–you know what I mean–it sounds pious, and in Zen, things that sound pious are said to stink of Zen, but to have no hang-ups, that is to say, to be able to drift like a cloud and flow like water, seeing that all life is a magnificent illusion, a plane of energy, and that there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. Fundamentally. You will be afraid on the surface. You will be afraid of putting your hand in the fire. You will be afraid of getting sick, etc. But you will not be afraid of fear. Fear will pass over your mind like a black cloud will be reflected in the mirror. But of course, the mirror isn’t quite the right illustration; space would be better. Like a black cloud flows through space without leaving any track. Like the stars don’t leave trails behind them.

– Alan Watts, in “Lecture on Zen”

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