I have been thinking back in order to discover the ways in which the yoga/meditation/mindfulness have benefited my life.
It all starts back in 1985, the 300th anniversary of Bach’s birth and so a year full of music, but otherwise, a devastating year. It started with the M.S coming out of remission and entering the secondary progressive stage where it just dwindles little by little. In April, I was rushed into hospital one evening (I would like to say at midnight, or the wee small hours but actually it was about 9.30pm) with an undiagnosed stomach ulcer. Then, in September Paul started the malignant course of liver failure which led to his death at the end of October.
But it’s the stomach ulcer time I am talking about now. Before they worked out what was really the matter with me, they gave me pethedine which made me float above the pain and revealed to me that pain killers don’t take the pain away; they shift your awareness in relation to the pain, so you perceive it differently and, no doubt, perceive other things in the world differently. I decided that if all it was going to do was make me float above the pain I would use my yoga, meditation, yoga breathing skills to do that myself. At that stage, I didn’t have the massive M.S discomfort/pain that I have to deal with now. M.S is variable and I have been granted the condition of allodynia, which means an indivisible pain that can obviously not be measured. The word is not in my dictionary but I suspect it is the opposite of anodyne: rasping versus smooth and emollient.
What I have to do is a reverse of Brueghel paintings where in the foreground there is, for example, the flailing of St. Anthony and in the background it is tranquil with there is someone skating and someone climbing a tree. I have to do it the opposite way with the turmoil in the background and the tranquility – birds at the feeder, light on the walnut tree, interaction with friends, what ever I am thinking about or reading and the music I am listening to – in the foreground.
This is how I manage not to take M.S pain killers during the day. As I cannot change position at night I do have to give in and take something to help me sleep but during the day my mind is clear and watching, the Buddhist mindfulness put to another use.