I’m thinking about pain a lot recently after triggering a couple of migraines, one that was possibly the worst one of my life. I have been doing a lot better! Lots! I’m averaging one every six weeks or so, which is so much better! But two 96-hour work weeks at the day job plus finishing a book to deadline makes a girl tired. You know?
So I’ve had a lot of time to sit with this particular pain and observe it. I got to the end of my medicinal arsenal with the bad one, and when the pain meds bottom out, there’s nothing to do BUT to sit with the pain (and by sit I mean lie perfectly still in the dark).
And this is what I did (when I could):
- Watched the pain
- Didn’t resist it
- Actively accepted it, without trying to hide from it
And THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED! (Seriously tempted to slap a click-bait title on this: You Won’t Believe The Fourth Thing on This List About Pain!)
Dude, the pain changed. For the first time in my life, I was able to make my brain do a sideways flip, and the pain literally turned into pleasure.
That sounds like some crazy BDSM whacky-slappy, right? IT WAS NOT THAT. But it freaked me right out, I tell you what.
You remember the dress? Yeah, I must have stared at this thing twenty times over the time of the furor it caused, only ever seeing blue and black. Then, on my phone, the image flipped and went white/gold, while my eyes were open and I was looking at it. The page did not reload. It was the same image.
I could literally feel the shift, a little click, in my brain.
Making the pain go from bad to good was like that. It felt, when I could hang on to it, as if I were scratching my itchy brain against something.
And then I could make the pain go all the way away. Well, to be clear, the pain was still there, but it didn’t feel good or bad, it just was. (This one I’ve actually been able to do for a while during migraines.)
Now, I’m no jedi (WHERE IS MY LIGHT SABER?). I could only do both of these things for maybe ten seconds at a time, at the very outside. Usually it was more like two or three seconds at a time. But I kept doing it, off and on, until I was out of migraine the next day.
And somehow, to know that by focusing I could get there did two things:
- It kept me interested.
- It kept me from despair.
Know what I attribute this ability to? Mindfulness. YEP THERE IT IS, THE HIPPIE SH*T YOU KNEW WAS COMING.
Blah meditation blah, the stuff works. I’ve touted Headspace before. I don’t use the app anymore, but it’s a great place to learn how (it’s pretty damn easy, actually, once the mystery is taken out and it’s just a how-to). The more I know how to focus (a gentle focus, like staring into the distance but knowing the clouds are moving) the better I get at it.
That’s a powerful motivator to keep practicing, I tell you what.
Oh! And in good news: GOODREADS GIVEAWAY of PACK UP THE MOON!
* Some pain I’m not going to talk about on the blog – one I love is sick. It’s pretty unbearable. Letting yourself sit with sadness helps. But only a little. And not enough, never enough.