Who Are You, and What Are You?

What Is Your Real Purpose in Life?

Practice My Own Preaching?

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For many years I’ve tried to teach and show people how Zen meditation can be used to block pain. I mentioned it a few times elsewhere in this blog, and I’ve also written about it in my books.** Essentially, pain happens in the body, but it is experienced in the mind. If you can train your mind to not notice pain, then at the least it will hurt less—and perhaps you can learn to ignore it altogether. I’ve been using that little Zen trick for decades.

Ah, but there’s pain—and there’s PAIN.

During the last few days of April, I started having headaches behind my right eye. The pain began during the night but gradually went away in late morning. I usually meditated until I was able to sleep. But the length and intensity of those headaches increased to the point where, by May 1st, I decided to see a doctor. Over the next six weeks I saw five doctors: my family physician, an opthamologist, a neuropthamologist, a neurosurgeon, all in Florida, and finally my family doctor in Virginia.

All had slightly different guesses as to what the problem is, but no proof came back from any test including two MRIs. And the doctors have no solution that works. The medications they suggested did not diminish the head pain except for one that put me into a sort of mild coma—rendered me practically incapable of thinking. Thus far, medical science has failed me completely. And now, that headache has been non-stop for over three weeks. If you’ve never had unending pain for an extended period of time, you may not know that it tears you down, mentally, physically, and emotionally. It can make you have ideas you might otherwise have never considered.

Bottom line: Does my meditation work in this case? No, not very well. And not all the time. However, it does work some of the time, and it nearly always helps me diminish the pain enough so that I can sleep—even though it’s not the best sleep I’ve ever had. I’m learning that blocking pain from out in the body is a little easier than blocking it inside my own mind. Perhaps the Universe is challenging me to improve the depth of my practice.

So yes, I am practicing what I preach. Doing so appears to be the only means I have of managing this pain without resorting to strong narcotic pain-killers—which none of the doctors has recommended yet. I hadn’t really considered that I have no acceptable alternative other than Zen meditation until I began writing this post.

The truth is this: If I weren’t well-practiced in meditation, I’d have very few long-term choices, and at least one of them would be very ugly.

———-

**In the “First Secret” chapter in Original Zen, see the heading “Leave Your Body.”

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

June 19, 2014 at 4:27 pm

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