Your Mind Can Be Medicine
There's this great scene in John Milton's epic Paradise Lost where the bad angels are tossed out of Heaven and they land with a horrible thud. Lucifer gets up and gives this speech that is modeled after one of the Greek heroes' speeches--like Agamemnon on the beach. I'm not trying to send out a big up to Lucifer here, but one thing Milton has him say has stuck with me since I first read it in college...
“THE MIND IS ITS OWN PLACE AND CAN MAKE A HEAVEN OF HELL OR A HELL OF HEAVEN.”
"Well that's great there genius but what does THAT have to do with thriving with pain?" Glad you asked.
First thing this am, I was awakened by the sound and feeling of the entire house vibrating--demolition in my bathroom. Yesterday's downpour, turned by freezing cold into snow and sleet, now cemented the ground and I could feel my body parts responding accordingly--middle fingers thrusting wildly and simultaneously in all directions.
I could hardly move. I contemplated blogging about how I decided to skip yoga in order to "rest my body which is also medicine" which is true--UNLESS YOUR BODY NEEDS YOU TO MOVE. Listening to and interpreting what the body saying correctly takes practice. I've done this long enough to know that my body was LYING TO ME. I didn't need to rest today (although REST. IS. MEDICINE.), I needed to move and stretch and breathe it aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall ooouuuuuuuuuuuuut.
On my way to yoga my shoulder began to 'inflate' -- my term for tightening so much that it feels like someone is blowing it up from the inside. Also known as a spasm on steroids.
"I AM TAKING MY BLESSED SHIRLEY TEMPLE SHOULDER TO THE ICE CREAM SHOP!" I repeated aloud several times until I could process this new sensation with greater ease. My first utterance was not so child friendly nor charitable to my legitimate parentage.
I got to hot yoga, class started and I began to sweat, breathe and stretch my way through what felt like certain death. I will spend much more time on yoga and my version of the "how and why" it was probably the most important single aspect of my healing for 2 years--at some other point. Regardless, I knew I had to make a mind game out of the sensation if I was going to make it through class. Lucky for me, I've had every day for 3 years to practice doing this very well and very poorly.
I need to interject that if you have a partially failed fusion in your neck PLEASE ASK YOUR DOCTORS BEFORE YOU TRY THIS. I'm not diagnosing, prescribing, treating, preventing or curing shit here--just telling you how I came back from the dead and stay out of bed and almost pill free managing incredible sensation.
For now--let me just say that HEALING OFTEN HURTS WORSE than doing nothing and continuing to lay in bed and trust in my pills. Several times in class today I let out a small groan. Apparently others were feeling it because everyone laughed.
Once again--my personal discomfort when shared with others is often good for a laugh. PLEASE TRY TO REMEMBER THIS PRINCIPLE.
The mind is it's own place...so the folding and breathing and bending became my personal self-guided SUPER mind-body-breath healing session. For the price of a yoga class, I was able to breathe in enough good mojo to direct my body to purge, detox and heal from the fairly brutal pounding I just put it through running around NYC for a week.
I not only enjoyed my hot yoga class today more than any class I can recall, I reset my brain and body for the rest of the day! I FEEL AMAZING and my body has relaxed--those burning stinging barking muscles and joints let loose all kinds of junk. They are now relaxed, mellow, happy, singing little strands of light pulsing in my body...for as long as I remember that's what my now pleasant sensation means.
I know that I released a bunch of chemicals my cells no longer needed because the stench coming off of me after class was part sun baked road kill and part sweaty "metallic chicken soup" as I call my normal post yoga fragrance. Some real body/mind business gets done for me in my yoga class and I can't always take that out in polite society after. SO WHAT?!
Remember--healing is messy and smelly and not always pleasant but WHEN I WALK, SIT, BREATH, MOVE, STRETCH AND GET ON THROUGH IT--I feel incredible.
I have clarity, focus, energy, patience, kindliness, tolerance and love for myself and now most importantly...I HAVE THAT GOOD STUFF TO SHARE with everyone I talk to today. So what if half the day is getting moving and the other half is only 3 to do items off the list. It beats the pants off of laying in bed all day, feeling dopey and sluggish and calling it "rest".
Your mind is its own place...MAKE IT THE BEST PLACE YOU CAN TODAY BECAUSE IT IS GOING TO TELL YOUR BODY WHAT CHEMICALS TO RELEASE.
Why not make it medicine? I'm right beside you all the way!
Thanks for reading.