Tag Archives: Pain

Featured Intent: Healed from the Past

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Over and over we’ve found ourselves in the same place. Maybe that place is one of positivity and abundance. We’re surrounded by wise and kind people who lift us up and support us. Perhaps it’s the opposite. We continue to find ourselves in the same mess. We’re repeating patterns that have existed longer than we can remember and the hard part is imagining a life where they aren’t a part of us.

Are some of us just lucky? And does it mean there is no hope if we’re one of the unfortunate folks who pulled the short straw of struggle?

We believe that with focus, intent and genuine desire, a pattern is something that can be overcome if it is destructive. We believe that sometimes, before you can move forward, you have to deal with the past accurately and honestly. This can mean seeking or offering forgiveness. This can mean shining a light on dark corners we had long accepted as forgotten. This can mean voicing feelings and truth we didn’t even know existed.

But we’re ready for a different future so today our intent is to be healed from the past.
You too? Here are 3 things to help: Continue reading

Hopeful Parenting When Your Kids Are Emotionally Hurting

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As a parent, you never want to see your child in emotional pain. When you do, you often have a natural instinct to want to do everything in your power to take away their pain.  Sometimes, you cannot automatically “fix” your child’s situation as quickly as you would like to. Your child has to go through their own process of healing to find success on the other side.

There is however something very powerful that every parent can do when their child is experiencing emotional pain and that is “Hope.” Parents can create hope within their children that they will work through their feelings and emerge confident and strong from the experiences that caused their emotional turmoil.

Hopeful parenting is about believing that you possess the inner strength, determination and tools to move you and your children beyond emotional pain. Continue reading

Our Intent: Better Ways to Approach Pain, and America’s Pain-Pill Epidemic

And I swear you're just like a pill Instead of makin me better, you keep makin me ill You keep makin me ill

By Deepak Chopra, M.D., FACP, and P. Murali Doraiswamy, MBBS, FRCP, Professor of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina

You may have noticed headlines about the rise of prescription drugs as a major cause of addiction and death by overdose. Pain pills are overshadowed by illegal drugs like heroin and their dangers masked by a certain air of respectability. Yet America is in the midst of an epidemic of painkiller overuse as well as addiction. As a nation we constitute only about 5% of the world’s population, but we consume some 80% of the prescription drugs called opioids, the strongest and most addictive pain pills, that go by names like Vicodin, OxyContin, Dilaudid, codeine, and Percocet. We consume 99% of the global supply of a particular opioid called hydrocodone, which is used in combination with other drugs for pain relief but also cough suppression. In 2014 the FDA approved a new version of a pure hydrocodone despite the objections of its own medical advisory panel (which voted 12 to 2 against approval) and 30 states. Today opioid overdose deaths (one every 30 minutes) exceed deaths from motor vehicle accidents as well as the combined total of deaths by heroin or cocaine overdose.

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Better Than Before: Making the Best of Arthritis

arthritisThe Europeans have it all figured out. At the first sign of any aches they don’t take to bed with a bottle of Aleve. No, they head for the thermae of Italy, the baden of Germany, the baths of England, and station thermales of France The treatments at these detox meccas include water (fresh and sea) and mud therapies that promise freedom from pain — not to mention a cleaner liver. And the concept goes back millennia. After all, Spa is not an acronym for Super Place for Aerobics. Rather, it is named after the town in Belgium favored by Peter the Great. (Yes, that Peter the Great!). They are based, instead, on the restorative and healing powers of thermal and mineral springs and imbibing waters that come directly from those sources.

Alas, we in America may be hard pressed to find these types of cures closer to home as there are only a handful of natural hot springs indigenous to this country. And, truth be told, most people don’t even know they exist. Just ask someone in your office to name a liquid that makes you feel really good. I doubt hot, bubbling water would be the first thing that comes to mind. In fact, make mine a kale and celery smoothie — and a Dirty Margarita for The Lawyer.

Does this mean, though, that we have to suffer such inflammatory ailments as arthritis in silence? After all, about 50 million Americans have been diagnosed with one of the seven common forms of Arthritis. Yes, I am one of them. But limited space will not allow me to regale you with stories about my recent hip replacement! (Call me!) Curative spas aside, it is important, therefore, for patients and care givers to understand the potential impact of the disease and how best to manage it. It can be a critical part of making the decisions to make good on your intent to live a healthier lifestyle that is Better Than Before.

Let’s start with learning a little more about the illness itself. For this I turned to Phyllis Crockett, a specialty-trained pharmacist in the Accredo Rheumatoid Arthritis and Inflammatory Disease TRC.

“Arthritis is a complex family of musculoskeletal disorders consisting of more than 100 different diseases or conditions,” she says. “Although common belief is that arthritis is a condition affecting the elderly, two-thirds of people with arthritis are under the age of 65, including 300,000 children. Also, arthritis affects people of all ethnicities.”

According to Crockett the vast majority of sufferers, about 27 million Americans, have what I have, Osteoarthritis (OA), which is characterized by a breakdown of joint cartridge. A vast majority of OA patients are elderly. (But it could be genetic, and the result of what sets in after you’ve sustained an injury! Hellooo!!)

The rest of arthritis sufferers have the more severe form: Rheumatoid arthritis. “Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is characterized by inflammation of the membranes lining the joint. Although it can strike at any age, women are typically diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 60, while male patients are usually older. There are about 1.5 million affected individuals in the United States. Finally, Juvenile Arthritis (JA) is a term used to describe many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that can affect children ages 16 and younger.”

The disease takes a heavy toll. “Each year, arthritis accounts for 44 million outpatient visits and over 900,000 hospitalizations. In fact, it’s the leading cause of disability in the United States and is a more frequent cause of activity limitations than heart disease, cancer or diabetes. By some estimates, 67 million Americans will have arthritis by 2030.”

So what do we do?

“Managing the disease so that patients can continue to live normal lives is important,” Crockett continues. “Each patient is different and a physician can help determine the best treatment plan, including pain management and managing the symptoms of arthritis.”

She shared with me some tips that she offers her patients, starting with exercise. “It is a valuable tool in the fight against arthritis. OA and RA patients particularly can benefit from both endurance and resistance training.”

Maintaining a healthy weight and protecting against joint injury can help prevent OA. “Every pound of weight lost reduces the pressure on each knee by 4 pounds. Even a small weight loss can be a big help in fighting it.”

Apart from lifestyle modifications, there are also many drug therapies available for arthritis patients—and doctors and specialist pharmacists can help identify the best one for you.

For patients who already are on medication to treat the condition, adherence – taking medications as prescribed – is critical to healthier outcomes.

“But do not self-medicate!” she cautions: “Combining over-the-counter medications with prescription medications can be risky, and can cause side effects such as an increase in GI irritation or a GI bleed. And don’t adjust doses or making changes to the medication regimen without checking with your health care team.”

“Watch for drug interactions: Some common medications like acetaminophen can have a drug-drug interaction with arthritis medications. Limit intake and remember that acetaminophen is often a component in common sinus, cough/cold and pain medications.”

Opt for an anti-inflammatory regimen like the Mediterranean diet – you know the drill, easy on the acidic foods like sugar, white flours, and alcohol, and sticking with leafy greens, whole grains, and lean proteins. “But some foods and beverages can block the effects of arthritis medications,” Crockett concludes. “These include grapefruit, apple and orange juice as well as milk and yogurt. Wait at least four hours after taking medications. Exact times can vary depending on the disease and the treatment. Check with a trained clinician.”

I can assure you from very painful, personal experience that if arthritis does go too far, surgery may be the only option. So if your intent is to help avoid – or at the very least, prolong – this possible outcome, be aware that lifestyle modification and medication may be the answer.

 

Finding ‘True Refuge’ in the Face of Loss and Ego

true refugeKim, Seoku Jong, the reporter for the Kyungyang Shinmun, one of Korea’s major daily newspapers, recently interviewed me about my book True Refuge, which is now available in Korean. Since most of my readers won’t be able to read the article in Korean, I wanted to share the interview with you hear.

KSJ: How are you doing? Please tell us what interests you most these days.

TB: My mother, who lives with us, recently went into home hospice care. What interests me is that when we face the truth of mortality—that these lives can pass like a dream, that we will each lose those who are dear—what most matters is love. At the end of our lives, the question that will be central is, “Did I love well?” It’s clear that the more we remember to live this moment, here and now, in a loving, awake way, the more our lives will be truly aligned with our values and our heart.

I’m deeply saddened to be losing my mom – she is a wonderful being, filled with generosity, humor, and kindness. She meditates, as do my siblings, and by being together in the present moment, by loving without holding back, this time of sorrow is also a time of great beauty. This experience is, to me, possible throughout our lives. If we can remember what most matters to us, our lives will be vibrant, creative, loving, and beautiful.

KSJ: The world is full of suffering and it doesn’t seem to end. No one is free from suffering. Your book introduces to readers the moving stories of people who managed to heal themselves despite their wounds, and to a number of meditation methods that can be applied for the liberation from suffering. If you can briefly summarize the essence of True Refuge, what it would be?

TB:While the pain and loss that is part of life will continue, we each have the capacity to free ourselves from the suffering of feeling threatened, separate, or deficient. This becomes possible when we can see past our story of egoic self and contact the deeper truth and fullness of who we really are. The essence of each of us is loving presence – an awareness that is pure, wakeful, and boundless. This is our True Refuge. Those who have healed themselves with meditation have learned to pay attention in a way that has carried them home to loving presence, our true nature.

A key part of finding this True Refuge of loving presence is bringing a kind and mindful attention to all the expressions of our egoic self. We don’t find True Refuge by eliminating the ego; we come home when, like the ocean, we embrace all the waves that arise from our Being. In a very real way, this means embracing the aggression and defensiveness, the insecurities and hurts. What we don’t love controls us. Yet, as we enfold more and more of our experience in acceptance and love, we realize the freedom and vastness of our awakened heart.

KSJ: What is false refuge, and how is it different from True Refuge? And why is it so important to have True Refuge?

Being human is challenging. We’re aware of the dangers we face—rejection, failure, disease, loss, death—and our habit is to try to control whatever we can. A false refuge is a control strategy that might give temporary relief, but in the long run does not serve us. For example, we might overeat to soothe our anxiety or to feel some gratification, but we then feel ashamed or gain unhealthy weight. We might work very hard to prove ourselves worthy, but become overly busy and neglect our loved ones. We might brag or exaggerate to get others approval, but inwardly feel like a fake. All these false refuges actually take us farther from the experience of being at home with ourselves, secure in the essential goodness of who we are.

To be continued…

 

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photo by: DarkAura

The Whale Song: Ancient Healing for Primal Pain

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Sometimes your pain is primal.

Like a a spectrum of dark light that wants to fall on every aspect your being. Wordless turmoil churning inside you, threatening to explode into your life if you can’t contain it, or don’t escape it, or if you fail at keeping it far, far away. At times like this there’s a need for healing. But who can heal a darkness like this?

Who can reach into a darkness so intense that it is winning in those moments – holding you in a space impenetrable to light? In ancient wisdom traditions, for this there is whale song.

Not all saviors of the human condition come in human form. A darkness as primal and as ancient as ours can be met only with a force equally as primal and ancient. For this, there is whale song.

Listen.

They are communicators. Their song is a song of healing. It will dissolve darkness with its perfect frequencies of ancient knowing. You will cry. You will feel a gentle light washing over you. You will feel a restoration happening in your cells.

Gradually, you will feel saved. They are our ancient safe keepers. They are our primal guardians. They come to heal us. They sing for us to remember. For us to rest. For our love to be restored.

They hold the light in the most ancient of dark places. They will release you back to the light.

* * *

Resources:

1. Modern researchers have successfully recorded whale song the world over.

The whale song is constant. We sometimes record song samples twenty four hours a day. The song rarely ceases. Do the whales create this soundscape to give solace to the newborn in the hours of darkness? In the dark of night, in the deep ocean, only the stars and the song bring hope for the dawn.The Ocean Project

2. Click here to play a recording of whale song shared by Sacred Swims & Communication with Humpback Whales on Soundcloud.

3. Try playing whalesong when anxiety surfaces in you. Have a hot shower or bath. Put on relaxing clothes. Light a candle. And lay still. Let the whale song play. Let it wash over you. If you can, let it play as you fall asleep overnight.

Repeat at least 3-4 times a week.

 

Photo credit: Facebook

Originally published on my website, The Modern Girl’s Guide to Spirituality

Brave Teenager’s Manifesto on Depression and Why We Need to Talk About It

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Kevin Breel has been living two lives for years. In one, he’s a smart, accomplished young man with friends and family who love him. In the other, he is someone who suffers from depression, and has for the better part of six years.

This may come as a shock, Kevin says, to the people who know him. After all, on the surface his life is great. Everything is fine; everything is going well. But underneath the surface, he “struggles intensely” with a condition that many of us know all to well and yet no one wants to talk about. Why is this?

Depression is stigmatized in our culture, Kevin says, and yet it is a massive issue. According to the World Health Organization, one person in the world dies by suicide every 40 seconds. Worldwide suicide rates have increased 60% in the last 45 years, and it is the second leading cause of death for people aged 10-24. On top of that, suicide attempts are 20 times more frequent than actual suicides, which means there is a staggering number of people in the world who are hurting, suffering, and desperately needing help.

Kevin uses a powerful analogy: When you break your arm, everyone runs over to sign your cast. When you say you’re depressed, everyone runs in the other direction. This has created a world in which we don’t understand mental health, we don’t understand our emotions, and we certainly don’t understand depression. Watch Kevin’s poignant TEDx talk:

In order to heal our hearts and our communities, Kevin entreats that we speak up, speak out, and learn to love ourselves. In the spirit of Suicide Prevention week, let’s not waste a minute to reach out to our fellow humans and spread the love.

Have you or someone you know suffered from depression? We would be honored for you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Finding the Hugger in Me

sometimes, a hug is all what we needI am not a hugger.

I probably just failed Spirituality 101 by making an “I am” statement that includes a negative, but the truth is, I’m not a big hugger. Even though it’s a negative, it’s a true negative, so there. I’ll hug my children and my close friends, but I am not one of those touchy-feely, hold your hand at a weekend seminar where we literally just met kinds of people. And don’t get me started on those weekend retreats where everyone sits on cushions and shares stories. Oh God, help me. Not sharing!

Really, do I have to sit here and listen to some person go on and on about how they feel about their husband leaving them (“Honey, he left…move on!” is all I can think of to say) and then hear them whine about how they just want to get their power back? I’ll tell you get your power back: you go out and bang the first 27-year-old hottie you can find…trust me, your ex-husband is! On and on these people go, talking about sh** I just don’t understand, like they left their body and were soaring like an eagle and saw the world as an apple and picked at the apple until it was nothing but a core, and they realized the apple was them and they were empty and filled with the seeds of love. WTF?

This is why I have always avoided these events like the plague. I have often been invited to these “Find your Inner Goddess” weekends or “Dream Your New Reality Night” at the local new age bookstore, and I would politely say no thank you. It all just seemed freaky to me; all this out-pouring of love and light. I’m good with you holding your own light and I’ll take care of mine, thank you very much. Yes, I know I made WHAT THE BLEEP and all, and these are supposed to be my people, but I never quite actually felt I fit in.

Probably because I am not a big hugger. And I don’t want to tell you my deepest darkest secrets about how shitty I feel about myself and how afraid I am and hurt I feel. So I didn’t. Instead, I took on the role of documenter of the transformation instead of participant. That was safe for me. I sort of liked watching, like a peeping tom at the awakening of humanity. I could set up cameras and watch, but join in on the circle of light? Nope, not me.

And then the shit hit the fan and my outwardly perfect, very safe looking, carefully crafted charade of a life took a big nose dive out of the sky. Clearly, I wasn’t channeling my inner eagle, and I realized that I was divorced and unhappy, alone in my un-huggable bubble. The truth was, I wanted to actually experience an authentic life which meant, well, I was gonna have to learn to hug and share. Because the truth is, transformation, awakening, or simply realizing happiness, isn’t something that rubs off on you by watching. You have to participate.

So I did.

I went to a Goddess Dream weekend in Mexico and had my mind blown. It wasn’t just about the hugging, although it turns out I’m pretty good at that. It was about me, showing up for myself, listening to what was in my soul and sharing it, not only with myself but with others. Then, finally feeling not alone, and actually feeling that love and light everyone talks about. But not in some fake, glazed over, blissed out because that’s what we think we’re supposed to be kind of way. It was real, authentic and it didn’t come from hiding how I felt and pretending everything was cool. It came from good old-fashioned honesty, hugging and sharing. Boy, did I share. I was the annoying one; I was the one crying about my past and my hurt. And suddenly, it was released. And I finally understood all that love and light.

So now, when someone approaches me to hug me, I practically leap into there arms. I am happy to admit I am a damn good hugger and if you’ve got something to share, I’m here to listen too, with all the love and light I can muster.

Don’t give your power away.

take-responsibility

 When I say: “pain offers understanding, suffering happens when we lose ourselves in pain” do you think I am blaming suffering on people’s attitude towards pain?

Some do.

I don’t.

 I do not blame anyone for suffering, but – and this is a very big “but” – I do believe everyone is responsible for it. Everyone who suffers. Everyone who is in pain.

Why do I say that? Is it because I am a cold-hearted, apodictic bitch devoid of empathy and without an ounce of compassion? Possibly, but even if that’s the case, still there is more. There is that it is by taking full responsibility for the pain, the suffering, that we achieve the power and the freedom to heal it.

As long as the pain is something that happens to us, that has been done to us by others (whether other humans, faith, destiny, God) there is little we can do to change it.

And yes, sometimes the pain is overwhelming and sometimes it is excruciating and sometimes it is unbearable and even so – what’s so is what’s so. I can only heal and transform that which is mine to heal and transform.

Before I can affect it – I have to claim it. As mine.

It’s You.

limit1

 Isn’t that a lovely stick? Inspiring and uplifting and what not? Truly a stick worth posting. Yet it begun like this:

limit

Yup. This is how I felt the last few days, the last few weeks, the last few months, the last few … well, all my life, likely. Though there were times of clarity and times of denial, times of unconsciousness and times of presence. Lately I experience times of my trauma being up in my face so strongly, so clearly, so harshly that nothing but facing it is a possibility. So I am facing.

I am facing and I see pain that dates to my birth. I saw some pain from before that, hidden all the way back in the shadowy endings of the previous life but that’s irrelevant here. What is relevant is that what happened when I was one day old comes to light and demands to be seen.

There is pain there. Pain caused by neglect and fear and loneliness and … well, pain. The pain I was born into. The pain of my parents that made it impossible for them to surround me with nothing but love. There was no love. There was no love at the very beginning of my life and I look at it (again) and see how quickly it became my fault, how quickly I became unlovable and how that burden of blame and guilt crushed me, and then I realize that…

… that it was not my fault. It was not my fault that there was no love waiting to receive me when I was born. But it was my responsibility. It was my responsibility.

And this is when the strings, the cords and strands of trauma loosen up a bit and I see that it was all me, from the very beginning. It was all me. And it still is.

And then I see that the trauma that binds me and traps me is there because I keep it there, because I believe it, because I mistake it for reality. I mistake it for life. I mistake it for the world. And then I see that this trauma’s purpose is to create life that it wants me to have. The pain wants me to create more pain. The fear wants me to create more fear and the lack of love, the loneliness, wants me to be alone.

And when I see that — the bounds fall off. They do not disappear, no, but they lose their power over my choices. They lose their power over my perceptions. I can see them for what they are now and they can no longer blind me and mystify me. They can no longer pretend to be real.

And then they leave. They are not needed anymore and I am left in the world where there is love because I am love. I am left in the world of my own creation, designed by me in the process of loving, of accepting, myself.

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