If you are like me, I don’t have to tell you that living with chronic illness can be at times unbearable. I know I do everything I can to get through days and nights – I try moving but that hurts, I rest but that hurts, so I do nothing but that hurts more! So by the end of each day, I’ve taken the maximum dose of painkillers that I could but the ache is overwhelming and consuming every breath. It’s a vicious circle that rotates endlessly.
But, as I’m having to deal with the chronic pain and endless number of physical symptoms that hurt – it’s also my mind that is also hurting . Questions, questions, many questions consistently overload my brain with such things of being unable to deal and cope with the ongoing pain and illness and all I’m asking is that I just want it to stop – I JUST WANT IT TO ALL GO AWAY – but it doesn’t!
This has been my constant thoughts and feelings over many years but I find of recent weeks it’s back with a vengeance! Pain insomnia wreaks havoc on living, so the only thing that I can do is to fight back against these moments of excessive chronic pain and illness so that I don’t fall back into a spiralling doom of despair.
Last night, I switched off from social media and connected back into a mindful space with meditation. A number of years ago, I found yoga and meditation and I found that it reduced my chronic pain and illness immensely and I was able to learn the principles and I began actually teaching it. However, as I stepped up the energy levels, my chronic illnesses stopped me in my tracks again. I could no longer do or teach yoga because of paralysis and weakness and so meditation fell by the wayside too. Being in a zone with insomnia for over a fortnight, has lead me to think about ways of not falling backwards-the breath of mindfulness has come back. I know very well that this mindful action soothes my mental and physical angst. I have no idea if I can bring myself back to being able to no longer feel pain with the intensity that I am, but if I bring back my focus to the breath just possibly I can help untangle the thick fog that insomnia lands me in.
So back to meditation i go. What meditation does is focus on different parts of my body simply using my breath. It allows me to see my mind and body in action and to feel the pain sensations as they rise within my body and then let go of them using calming deep breaths. I did not think I would have success straight away, but I was amazed by the difference. Last night, has been my best night for about a fortnight. You see, just by bringing my calming breath back into play my chronic pain insomnia and intolerable nerve pain and twitches began to melt and I was able to rest and was able to sleep – YES SLEEP.
I know my pain arises from my multiple chronic illnesses and the damage to my bodies nervous system and what is like a speaker in my brain leading the intensity of mind and body suffering. From studying different forms of mindfulness and from my personal health experiences, I’ve learnt that my mind does not simply feel pain, it also processes all the information that it holds. Its like my mind, zooms in on my pain looking for away to take it away but instead what my mind is doing is causing my pain and or hurting to be louder. Before long I’m in periods of excessive pain and illness and insomnia is causing me more hurting. I know, if I don’t do something I will end up being consumed again by my excessive anxieties, stresses and worries as well as my physical pain. As I spoke earlier about in an instant the vicious circle of downward spiralling is with me again, which hurts and impairs my healing process and leads to even more hurting.
So it is time to again, step into handling my pain and hurting differently to how I currently am. I need to lay my hands open to the powerful effect of mindfulness so that I can better control my pain. I know personally when focused, that mindfulness does turn my volume control down on pain. It also lessens my anxiety, stress and the depression that it has brought me. Using mindfulness, my mind and body can again truly relax and perhaps in conjunction with my medication and other problems which include my memory loss may improve as well as my mental and physical energy. As I’m writing this I’m wondering – WHY THE HELL, DID I GIVE UP MY MEDITATION!
So come forward – I’ve found a wonderful app called “InsightTimer” – you may want to have a look at http://www.insighttimer.com . This app, has over 2000 different meditations- I regularly search the different rest, relaxation and sleep meditations and I’ve again found that stepping into following the guided sessions I can use mindful activity as a powerful painkiller in conjunction with my other medications to assist my steps walking forward.
If you would like to give meditation a go, I would suggest looking for the app I spoke of but also practising getting your mind and body to relax. This is an activity I use and its best practiced in a quiet area. Don’t worry if your mind wanders. Mine does, so don’t get mad with yourself. When it happens, just bring the awareness back to your breath and concentrate on the part of the body where your mind wandered. As you focus on each part of the body, listen to how your body is feeling.
So let’s begin the practise;
I will generally Lie on the floor, my bed or my sofa, letting my legs lay relaxed and slightly apart. I place my hands on my tummy (presently I have a paralysed right arm so I place that hand under my left, so it stays in place. I will close my eyes and sink myself into the floor. Next I focus on my breath – listening and feeling as it flows in and out of my body. I will just lay still noticing how my breath is, feeling the rhythm of each breath in and out with as much detail as i can – doing this allows me to really connect inward. I will start at my toes and work up – spending a few minutes with each area of my body feeling how it feels in temperature and with pain. As you breathe in, hold your breath and then slowly exhale in each breath, I use the count of 4 and then again to the count of 4, I exhale. I will often spend more time on particular areas of my body that are feeling worse pain. Once I’ve listened I will move my awareness to the next area of my body. I will stop and observe what i find for a minute. So basically it’s about breathing deeply in, holding your breath and then exhaling observing from your toes up all the way to the top of my head. Once I’ve reached my head I will spend a couple of minutes observing my whole body breathing as one. Slowly I will open my eyes and bring myself back to my surroundings. What I find, is that there is a calmness across my body, I may still have pain but my body is in a state of awareness that allows me to either continue with my day or settle into a restful space for night.
I hope that this post has been of help for you, if you’ve been thinking of trying to incorporate mindfulness and meditation into your life and chronic illness journey. If it resonates with you or perhaps you want to know more about my journey, please don’t hesitate to connect with me here or across on my social media channels.
LR – The Barefoot Goddess 💋