something new

Hey guys! So, in my last post I talked about my experience with panic and anxiety during my recent experience with a sinus infection and then trigeminal neuralgia following the illness. What I didn’t talk about was everything I heard about this condition and that this can also be a symptom of other things underlying. I heard from a few people that trigeminal neuralgia can be debilitating and I started to do that thing where I obsessively looked it up and heard story after story about how terrifying and debilitating and excruciatingly painful it can be when it attacks. I was terrified. All I could see in my mind was that I would be debilitated for the rest of my life with never ending excruciating pain that would hold me hostage inside the prison of suffering. And then I relaxed and started to recover from this first attack and the panic and anxiety that accompanied this new thing I was experiencing. I started to return to the present moment. I started to realize I wasn’t actually debilitated right now. I started to realize, again, that this experience and the nature of fear in it was telling me a different story than what I was experiencing in reality.

My nervous system is recovering right now. I am incorporating things to help with this like deep belly breathing exercises every day and contemplative prayer. What I am learning in this is that stress management and self care are very important things to figure out. In hind’s sight, I could see how I accumulated stress from 2019, which happened to be a more stressful year than others. With the increase of that stress and my own ways of coping with stress, it became clear to me on the other side of it that I need to do something new to manage stress in my life. So at the peak of the panic and anxiety, I started doing yoga. I wasn’t sleeping, but I had more energy than I ever thought I had. I did yoga. I went to they gym and walked on the treadmill. I tried the elliptical. I walked around my house. I got moving. Movement and connection to my body in this way has always been a struggle for me. Inactivity was a more natural way for me to cope, but it is not serving me in a healthy way anymore. I realize now more than ever how important it is to move my body. Even doing basic yoga stretches for 15 minutes is enough. So I’m not going crazy with this. I don’t do it everyday yet, either, which is a goal I am working toward.

Meditation and contemplative prayer are also practices I started a few years ago that I am seeing an even greater need for now. There is a lot of buzz in our culture about meditation and mindfulness and for good reason. It is so very needed in our mind-driven intellectual way of showing up. I am learning that meditation is a practice that helps to train the mind to calm down. The mind is an energetic powerhouse, but it cannot be the only one from which I draw. My body and heart are also energetic powerhouses and alignment in all three areas takes discipline and practice. It takes a lifetime of discipline and practice, actually. And there is no such thing as arriving anywhere with it. The mind is the mind. I am learning so much about the nature of the mind and the stories it crafts around my experiences. So far I have experienced a lot of mental chatter around this new experience and I am learning to observe the thoughts and then allow them to vanish into the cloud of forgetting. As I do this, I experience peace. As I was driving into work this morning, I experienced a great peacefulness even though I see this terrible threat approaching.

In my last post, I talked about a dream I had and in that dream I could see a threatening E5 tornado heading in my direction. This new thing is a threat to my ego. My ego doesn’t like another diagnosis and the possibility that my body can experience excruciating pain if this nerve were to attack me again. My conditioned self has also made an appearance and I am learning to challenge these stories now as they enter my mind, instead of being carried by the stories as factual to my current experience. Yes, I am experiencing new things in my body that I don’t like and that quite frankly are scary. But you know what I see right now? I see that I am a participant in the human experience just as you are. I see that people experience terrible things all the time and receive terrible diagnoses from doctors all the time. I see that we are all connected to each other through the pain we experience– the physical, mental, emotional pain we all experience. And you know what? That brings me to a place of peace and interconnectedness that I haven’t experienced before as a whole being. I have known with my mind that we are all connected to each other, but this experience is connecting me more deeply to my fellow humans on a deep heart level.

But guess what, guys? These things we experience that we can perceive as threats to our existence are not truly threats at all. What is divinely true is that we are held together in Love’s cosmic energy and nothing can stop the flow of that Love toward us. Nothing. No bad news or medical diagnosis, no pain, no fear or shame, or even the experience of our own hell on earth can stop Love. Not death. Nothing can stop it and we are not separate, but joined to it whether we know it or not. Something I continue to learn is that when I suffer, I share in Christ’s suffering and therefore the suffering of all of human kind. We share it. We are joined together by it. We grieve through it, together. I also am familiar with the ache in the soul accompanied by trauma and loss and acquainted with the part of that process when the mind and heart can grow numb to words. Words don’t matter at the peak of our grief and suffering. I can say that there is no fear in Love or that there is nothing that can separate us from Love, but sometimes words make the human experience worse. I am learning that the energies of Love and compassion and grace and kindness flow from the depths of our being into someone else’s being simply through presence. The presence of Christ dwells in us. We are carriers of this presence. We do not need to ask for it to come. It is with us and in us one hundred percent of the time at all times, whether we feel it or not. All we can do is trust it and let it carry us like a great flowing river into the wild and unknown of life. Love and peace to you, friends.

May you be at peace
May your heart remain open
May you be aware of your true nature
May you be healed
May you be a source of healing for others
May you dwell in the breath of God

Prayer by St. Theresa of Avila

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