I’ve been working on a project to do with pain management and mindfulness. It’s an arts & crafts sort of thing and it was presented as the final exercise in my pain management programme.
The pain management programme was a mindfulness, an awareness-based system of guided meditations and tools for self-examination. The idea was to look at your relationship with your pain and fine-tune the push-and-pull elements. What the ? That means that you look at a variety of places in our lives where pain, when you have chronic pain, comes to reside and get triggered. I should have just said this but I’m going to leave this as is to show you that it’s difficult to name stuff honestly, For example, eating; one week we had the exercise to eat consciously once and come back to class to share notes. It’s not compare notes, it’s to share notes. The class specifically requested we not “advise” each other but, rather, simply share our experiences.
That’s difficult to do, as well. Honesty is difficult for most of us. We’re not a particularly self-interrogatory species. We have gradually built up the ability to look at our own experiences without condemnation or other judgements. We have pictures in our heads, started before we had language, that describe our perceptions of the world and our place in it.
The project I’m working on is a maze. It came to me in the last days before the end of the course. I’d already dug out an old poem that echoed my relationship with my pain but this came to me with a doodle and an ‘x’. I turned it into a maze and now I’m turning the maze into a game. The pain maze has life hurdles in the dead ends; the game will have more decision points and I wish there was a way to make the board game such that you couldn’t tell you are heading for a dead-end. How many people play board games these days and how many of them would like one about making your way through life’s little dramas.
That’s what chronic pain can feel like: a drama that just keeps going without resolution or end. There are days I simply want it to stop, even if it means death; it’s exhausting. There are days I’m so frustrated that I can’t manage more than 4 hours of half-assed thinking and doing. The half-assed thinking is clearing up as my drug regimen becomes more tailored to my chemical soup factory (AKA my body). So, that straightens that out, clearly my body affects my mind and I might not be crazy to think that my mind is inside my body (but I still don’t believe that is 100% true).
Chronic pain keeps me in my body to a degree I’ve never experienced before. An unpleasant degree, as it would happen. I think ecstasy would become painful if maintained full on at all times. Our bodies are not built for ‘all out’ all the time. We’re over-burdened with fast, constant stressors, we city-dwelling, global-villager people. Becoming broken has given me an opportunity to step out of the rip tide and back onto the beach. Striving is becoming a thing of my past.
That puts me at odds with the dominate society where I live, but I’m happy in my eddy and growing more confident day by day.