• Deah Curry PhD

The Healing Power of Patience?



They say that pain focuses the mind. Unrelenting, sleep-depriving, work-debilitating, nearly month old pain, may be unhinging mine.

Nothing like getting hit by a Mack truck while minding your own business, in bed, sleeping. That's what this feels like. I just woke up with it one morning. And it refuses to go away -- although it changes just enough day to day in a cruel attempt to trick me into hoping one of the dozens of home remedies I've tried is working.

None of them really are.

Neither has chiropractic, nor massage, nor reiki beyond a few hours of blessed but temporary relief. Nor MSM so far, nor homeopathy. I may have to resort to something drastic, like acupuncture. Or western medicine. Ugh.

But reciting my physio-woes is not my purpose here. I'm intending to comment on how patience instead of worry and can relieve some of the experience of suffering.

The Magic of Accepting The Reality You're In

Most of us over achievers tend to get fairly anxious when our normal ability to be productive and not think about the body is disrupted by chronic pain. Anxiety constricts the muscles and blood vessels. Then the stress cycle kicks in, and stress hormones flood the body.

That stimulates the natural reflex to fight against what we are experiencing, as if pain is some kind of cosmic insult. That combattive response almost always makes the pain worse. At least for me.

It seems ridiculous to preach about embracing the pain, as if it can be hugged away. And sitting with it seems to be all I've done, which obviously gets me nowhere -- literally.

But what if those prescriptions hold some magic?

In my mentholated semi-conscious stupor, my mind wanders to Shinzen Young's book and CD called Break Through Pain. I'm reminded about the value of breathing -- because, when I'm busily operating on all cylinders, I tend to forget that little necessity.

Now, breathing, full on, from the belly, and in no rush, takes patience. Body and mind in harmony. Yeah, okay, heard that before.

Nonetheless, patiently and mindfully, I explore the vast number of qualities of pain. Gently and patiently, I reassure my neck and shoulder and arm that I'm still there, and in this with them. Patiently and fully, allowing suffering to speak to me. Slowly and patiently, pain teaches me, one long deep breath at a time.

Did I mention patience?

The more I breath, the more the pain shifts -- just a little, to be sure, but it's perceptible. Tense sore muscles release a microgram of their anger. They apparently recognize patience as a healing intention.

There is a lesson here. I'm not sure I yet know exactly what it is. I suspect it has to do with that harmony thing. And with accepting that I won't always be in control. And that I'll survive even the pain of adjusting to new realities.

Meanwhile, I'm getting really tired of smelling like Ben-Gay and spending both days and nights in the recliner -- the only position in which I can sort of work, and sort of nap, for an hour at a time.

Actual sleep, back in bed, in a ways off still. I'm learning to be patient for that.


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