Today someone asked me, “How are you?”
Automatically a response begins to move toward my lips. Stopping myself from blurting the usual crap used to keep everyone feeling good (and somewhat disconnected from what we really feel). I realized the surfacing words would not be the deepest truth. As the bits of truth came forth about the little and big pains I have been a witness to over the last days, now totaling almost a month, the inquirer had begun the shut down process.
It wasn’t that the person didn’t care. I’m certain the almost immediate looking elsewhere to be quite the contrary. She could not hold the pain. I truthfully admitted to bearing and witnessing several hard moments firsthand and for someone close to me. Each of those memories now smaller pains for me. Still reminders are like those little twinges I sometimes have in my knee from exercising out of alignment. When I feel them and am being mindful and good to myself I immediately up my Procosa to support the knee’s integrity from inside & put Traumeel on to heal it from the outside. I feel equipped to do something as long as I choose to take action.
However when someone admits to pain of the heart /mind often I notice folks aren’t quite sure how to respond. For many years I did not know how to respond. Now, still at times I am at a loss especially when multiple levels of pain pile on top of another, sometimes incomprehensible pain. And I still try to remain aware of my reaction or lack of. Am what I am doing deepening their sense of loss or do it seem I able to somehow hold them.
It is because of the pains, that I have committed to myself to start each day in one corner of my design/work room. I sit on a cushion made out of fabric I bought in India over a decade ago. Just seeing the fabric starts to ground me. It takes me to a little shop where a gentleman assisted me in picking out several patterns associated with the region I was visiting. Those minutes whether 5, 19 or more each day connect me to a warm memory of time and place of over a decade ago without my even realizing it most of the time. Beyond that connection is the practice itself which is a grounding touchstone for me each day.
Thousands of scientific studies exploring meditation have determined it a.) lowers blood pressure b.) reduces the markers of aging and c.) decreases cortisol levels, stress markers, which damage both the brain and body.
Physical and mental pain can be elevated by a mind-focusing practice allowing us to access inner states of peace while also increasing our capacity for attention. This last fact is being proven in classroom settings across the country. It is also something we are incorporating into the newest version of our curriculum to be used in schools as part of my work as the executive director of Catalyst Youth Leadership Program.
I’ve also discovered, hooking me even further to my daily practice are the current studies demonstrating more activity in the parts of the brain associated with joy, calm and compassion and less action in the parts of the brain associated with depression and anxiety. “In short, people who meditate feel generally happier!”
And I have to agree despite all I’ve been a witness to. My need to look away or not be able to hold another’s pain without taking it all on has come into a sweeter balance. Now I feel more capable of being a witness to the little pains and even the bigger ones.