I have not been meditating regularly. This is stupid. I know that I should be doing this. It helps with my pain. It helps me sleep better. I’m able to do more and function better. I’m not forgetting. I think about it and then don’t do it. I have reminders set-up. But I’m still not doing it. When I’ve done it recently it helps, but I noticed that each time I do this I’m reminded of flying. I’ve been associating my favorite guided meditations and meditation music with flying because I used to listen to these when I flew regularly.
I was flying every 4-6 weeks to see the love of my life before I discovered the train. Flying for me is a challenge. I have an inner ear disorder called labyrinthitis. The body has an internal gyroscope that distinguishes up from down and left from right. With labryinthitis this internal gyroscope ceases to work in certain situations – such as flying or gymnastics This causes nausea, dizziness, headaches and general discomfort. It is also really scary. My body is working really hard for the entire flight to try to tell me this basic information about the world, and it can’t. I have a lot of confidence in science and the flight crew. I’m not afraid of flying. I understand they are going to get us there safely. My body does not understand this. I don’t really think of dying except that my body is so confused. So yes, I’m scared too. Couple this with the emotional roller coaster of being so excited to see the love of my life when I get off the plane and this is exhausting. Of course, it makes sense that I would use every tool I have to cope with this. I have anti-nausea wrist bands. And I meditate for the entire flight. It makes a huge difference.
So now when I meditate I associate my favorite meditations with flying. But I know I’m not flying so why would this bother me. Why can’t I just be grateful not to feel the way I do in an airplane? It was asking this question that made me realize that my whole life has suddenly become a bit like flying. I have been dealing with chronic 24/7 pain from an increasingly challenging spinal injury since October. I’ve been fortunate that I haven’t had to fly since September. So just as one fearful experience for my body ended a new one began. They are, of course, related. I stopped flying and found a different way to travel because the new pain would make air travel unbearable. But I did not realize until today how similar the experience of chronic pain is to the bodily confusion I experience when flying.
I have been living with this pain every day for six months. My body is scared. I am scared. I do not know when – or if – it will ever end. It is not tolerable. But I am tolerating it. There is no escaping it. Just like no one can let me off the plane mid-flight no matter how much I want that. When flying, it is hard to remember what normal feels like. Similarly, with this chronic pain, I can remember how great I felt in March 2015. But I can only remember that mentally and emotionally. I can’t actually remember how it felt physically.
This realization helps though. I meditated today and realized that it was okay to feel really scared. That perhaps admitting how scared I am was really important. Meditating isn’t just about the end result. It isn’t about getting better sleep or feeling better. It is about taking the time to be with myself during the pain. It is accepting my feelings of fear and worry and not punishing myself for them. Not meditating has been my way of punishing myself – of saying I don’t deserve to feel better. But I do. Even though it isn’t a miraculous difference, meditating helps. I still feel the intense physical pain, but I won’t make my soul suffer too.