Today I’m thankful to be learning basic meditation.
I am keenly aware of stress. If I let it get a foothold I flare and end up back at the rheumatologist, painfully swollen and only able to function at a basic level. The last several weeks have been eventful. In response I manifested several clear physical signs of a flare, though for once they’ve moved slowly. I felt like my body was warning me what would follow if I didn’t regain control. I decided to use the grace period. I’ve been adjusting my daily routine and learning meditation basics. Please know I’m not proselytising for any cause. I use this platform to express gratitude in my own somewhat cantankerous way. These particular changes have helped me. Live your life as you see fit.
For as long as I can remember I’ve thought “I really should learn to meditate”. I read Maura O’Halloran’s account of her time training to be a Zen Buddhist monk in Japan. I found it engrossing, but I’ve never really mastered the feeling of emptiness. I have an unruly mind. It’s an asset for my work, but it also means that I notice every itch and feel the need to rein in my thoughts from their continual wanderings. It’s the antithesis of a meditating brain.
I’m generally wary of alternative therapies. I am willing to try those with a documented body of evidence in their favor. Meditation, especially for stress management in autoimmune inflammatory diseases, is one such practice. The pivot for me was accepting that I can’t expect to start with sitting quietly for 30 minutes in one go. I am simply not wired for it. I can, however, manage 3 to 5 minutes before bed, gradually increasing over time. My runaway thoughts are not a liability. I acknowledge them and return to the quiet. I’m in my second week. My hands are no longer swollen and the raised red spots on my skin have disappeared. I don’t have an ultimate goal beyond trying to stay healthy, but this works for now. I’ve used several apps to track my progress. It helps me to quantify what I do.
Be kind to yourself, and your body. You get one. Finally, a well placed heating pad rarely goes awry. (Blatantly sentimental picture below, because well, why not?)