Walking with Max we passed a house decorated with hundreds of lights, candy canes and Charlie Brown Characters with huge stacks of gifts. On the gate was a tiny sign that read “Happy Birthday Jesus”.
How and what, I wondered, did this family celebrate. Many of my clients experience more pain, much suffering, emotional and physical, during the holidays than almost any other time of year.
The spiritual is lost in the longing for what they perceive is missing in their lives – that elusive dream or fantasy of how it should be.
I am NOT minimizing the loss experienced, remembering those who have died or left. I have experienced the emotional “anniversary” “pain” of the death of loved ones. I am referring to the yearning for the picture in our mind of how we think it should be and the belief that “everyone else” is having that “Hallmark experience”.
Then I read a timely post from Carol D. Marsh at Chronic Pain and Spirituality. Her blog is about spirituality, not religion. As she says, “. . .pain and suffering are universal and so I take a universal approach”.
I also believe that physical and emotional are so interrelated that whatever the origin of the pain, of the suffering Carol’s post applies.
Here’s an excerpt. Tell me what YOU think:
“. . . It’s a simple as this: when I am in pain, I do not care for theological arguments or doctrinal matters, I care about relieving, managing and living with the pain.
“. . . Here is how I see it: pain is the migraine – stabbing, pounding – and is physical; suffering is the contortions – worry, fear, despair – and is mental.
I have little or no control over migraine pain (behind that statement, there is a long saga of therapies tried, drugs taken, and alternative medicine explored), and that can lead to a sense of helplessness that is truly depressing. So there is something hopeful, something liberating in the knowledge that there is one area in which I have control: how I relate to the pain, or, how my mind thinks about it.
It’s the ancient Buddhist saying, pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. For those of us with chronic pain, the physical discomfort is inevitable. We are trying everything we can to alleviate it, and until something works for us, the hopeful news is we do not have to resign ourselves to being victims of it.
It is in our ability to choose to leave the egoic mind and turn toward Being that we become most fully and wonderfully human. Here we find what Jesus called, “the peace that passes all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7) And here is where I have found my most effective and healing pain management practice, in a calm of body and tranquility of mind that somehow miraculously reduces in significance the pain of my body, while eliminating the suffering of my mind.
” . . . Relieving the mind of thinking and emoting is about connecting to one’s essential Being. This is the journey to Wholeness that must take into account and include our body with its pain and our mind with its suffering. Perhaps that is the hidden blessing in chronic pain: it makes impossible the human tendency to split body and mind, thereby opening the door to our spirituality.” Carol D. Marsh
To read Carol’s post in it’s entirety click here:
“Men who suffer not, attain no perfection. The plant most pruned by the gardeners is that one which, when the summer comes, will have the most beautiful blossoms and the most abundant fruit…”
(Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 50)