Oh The Pain, The Pain

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Oh, Shut Up, You Bubble-Headed Booby

Irritability isn’t just for space-faring nefarious miscreants.  I don’t think I have cornered the market on it but wow, I sure get the crankies more than I’d like.  And cranky really isn’t me.  I’m a nice man for the most part.  But there are times that I just can’t escape being a dastardly Dr. Smith.

But don’t be fooled.  I can crank it up with the best of them and when I get that way I tend to keep the door shut and stay the hell out of the way.  If I had my own Jupiter 2, the robot and I would be headed for Alpha Centauri in a heartbeat, me in a freezing tube after I hit his ‘off’ switch.  Ah, blessed galactic quiet.  The Robinson Family can get lost in space for all I care, but I’m taking the Robot.

So today I met with my new doctor, the one that prescribes my meds, my lifeline as it were.  She’s very nice and she’s caught up on what I need so that our first meeting was a breeze to get through.  But I mentioned the headaches I have all the time, headaches I have had for many years now and have largely learned to live with, blinding headaches that turn me into a cranky monster.  There are several things to consider in diagnosing headaches and I’m going to work with my M.D. to find the cause.  But in the mean time, there was one helpful method that I hadn’t really considered.

I have begun a meditation therapy to center myself called Mindfulness Therapy.  Now, I hate this kind of thing.  The inevitable soft voice suggesting that I relax.

HEY.  I CAN’T RELAX.  MY HEAD HURTS.

And there’s the problem.  Relaxing isn’t in my lexicon.  It may seem like I’m lying about but I assure you I am not shirking my mental health duties.  I’m working on it all the time and I have a brain that has only two settings: five million miles an hour or unconscious.  When it comes to relaxation of the mind I admit I’m not very good at sitting back and mentally feeling my feet, then my calves, then my knees . . . oh, you get the idea.

Meanwhile, I’m having something akin to an ice pick being jammed into my head and this exercise requires me to feel the sensations in my left tibia.  Right.

I’m usually more open to new elements that are injected into my therapy.  I believe in what my therapist wants to do, I know where she’s guiding me.  But how am I supposed to get anything done with all that clanging going on in my head?  I’ve written before about this very subject, about my attempts that failed and my rejection of this kind of technique just on general principles.  No one that sounds like a professional somnambulist is going to pique my interest.

But then today I actually got it.

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You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch

I’m the most selfish person sometimes.  I’m a Grinch with myself.  A Grinch is close-minded, selfish, uncaring and just nasty in general.  And I’m a Grinch.

If I were less of a Grinch I would allow myself to accept the gift that’s being offered by doing Mindfulness Therapy, and it is a gift I’m talking about.  I’ve been desperate for years to shut off the noise and static that prevents me from having some peace and quiet.  My rejecting and indeed, scoffing at this kind of therapy just illustrates how miserly I am with myself.  Do I know better?  No, there’s nothing I have learned that can turn down the din.  Do I think I’m in possession of more smarts than several million people who do this therapy?  No, I’m not all that smart.

Do I think I can do this?

Sometimes yes.  Today was a yes.  I actually realized that I was doing the exercise the way it’s supposed to be done, following the directions from the smooth English-accented voice on the meditation recording and suddenly there it was.

Quiet, of a sort.  Not that freaky total quiet that I hate and am actually frightened of because I hate silence; this was not silence, it was listening, listening to my body, listening to the now.

Suddenly the therapy didn’t seem so alien, so ridiculous, so wrong or so weird.  I actually understood what I was being shown and I wanted to do it.  So I did it one more time and once again, I got it.  And the most wonderful side-effect was that my headache calmed down to less than half of its original severity.

What’s this got to do with anything you might be interested in?

It’s this: allowing an open mind to blossom can be powerful, but listening to your open mind is AWESOME.

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Somebody Get Me A Buddha, Stat

If I could make sense of everything going on inside of me, that would be incredible.  But that’s unlikely to happen because I don’t have technically advanced sensors for that level of analysis.  No one does.  Still, this small step made me feel like I got somewhere for once and that’s a great start.  But a Buddha I’m not and more than likely will never be.

There is a lifetime of mindfulness exercises to do and now, rather than resist, I will be assimilated.  I accept the challenge, I welcome the challenge.  And all it took for this change in attitude was one day of positive result.  But wait, didn’t I just say I had a lifetime of exercises to do?

Uh, yes, yes I did.

I don’t easily commit to things.  In fact, once there’s no other choices in a situation, I make up my mind and more often than not stick to the decision.  But this is a lifetime commitment.  Come to think of it, I’m already in a lifetime commitment whether or not I like it.  In fact, several.  I recognize something that needs to change and when I’m presented with options — insulin for my diabetes, for example — I go for the best method to the best result.

So no more making fun of these kinds of therapy.  I won’t be calling them worthless when I simply haven’t given them a try, or making an ill-informed pronouncement right out of my butt.  I’m going to be more open, more inquisitive, more hopeful.  Maybe they can make me into a peaceful, more centered, happier, quieter person.  Maybe my headaches will lessen or become fewer in number.  Maybe there’s a realistic goal here.

And I could have ignored it forever without the encouragement of my therapist, who is apparently slowly helping me to become a zen frog on the lily pad of my mind.  Over time and with practice I hope to be in a more mindful, better place where I can cultivate joy in my life rather than take another pill for all those headaches.

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