Going through a serious illness and operation makes you so much more aware of life. You question the life you have been living until now, the intuitive feelings you may have had but ignored. You regret the times you ran around just being busy for the sake of it and because you found it too hard to just sit still in peace. You also see the times an inner voice told you to reach out but fear or some other negative message stopped you.
And then the love that is shown to you makes you question all that you thought others thought about you. In my own case I see where my own thinking has strayed towards the negative so often, how I have limited myself by past pain.
The thing about pain and hurt is that it makes you withdraw. It makes you contract into yourself. You contract into yourself in order to protect yourself and you don’t even realise this at the time, its just a very natural response. And by all means we need to be able to be with ourselves in pain especially after an operation where in our skin has been cut through or after other painful experiences when our body, heart or mind is wounded in some way and yet the way we think about these things also plays a huge part in generating more pain.
It is interesting to me how this whole process of surgery has mirrored for me the pain of things being put into me and done to me that I did not want put into me or done to me when I was much younger and how that pain has replayed and repeated in an unconscious way. I have seen how in response to that unconscious pain that had no place to process I had sought relief in alcohol and drugs.
Certainly there is a need to sit still with ourselves in pain, to feel the pain, to understand the pain, to learn lessons from the pain but hopefully the result of all of this pain borne with is that we learn how precious a gift life is and we don’t continue to retreat and withdraw into a place from which we can give no longer.
Still in the paradoxical way my mind is working at present a part of me is also saying as I write that life today is moving too fast on an outward trajectory and there is a need I feel to withdraw into the space where I can be in touch with my inner world and be still, to find a place of peace that does not become torturous by overthinking.
This inward turning is not about contracting but about expanding inwardly so that we can touch life. It is not about disconnection at all because we all have an entire universe inside of us and through this place we deeply connect to others on an energetic plane too.
So much of life lately seems to be about compulsive busyness and outward turning and there can be a kind of contraction in this in that in a state of busyness we are focused only on doing something or getting somewhere more than on being awake and alive and touching the present moment with all of its blessings, and most especially touching nature which has a soothing refreshing balm that could heal our jangled nervous systems.
I was never more conscious of the contrast between the contracted human world and the expansive natural world than after four days in hospital. My body was going through all kinds of pushes and pulls due to the needles being stuck into me, vital signs being taken, pain from the surgery, comings and goings of staff and visitors as well as the swelling of all kind of feelings deep within me of trauma and old feelings being catalysed by the surgery and contacts with people I had not heard from for some time.
On Sunday night the pain from the twisting and turning was so bad I felt like I would explode. I had to walk the corridors of the hospital in order to contain it, and then at the break of dawn when the outside doors opened I went into the garden amongst the roses there and walked on the grass with bare feet. The entire surrounding was full of vibration, energy and hum. It felt like a benediction. I could feel nature was expansive. I had left the contracting and contractive world of the man made hospital and felt like I was literally in heaven. There was a soft breeze that blew against my skin and much of my pain left me.
I then had to return to the ward in preparation to leave. As I did something once said to me at an Al Anon meeting came to mind. He said that at an AA meeting that week he heard GOD referred to as the Great Out Doors. God in nature that is what I had felt. I had felt the healing power of nature.
Two days later I am back at home. There has been times of contraction, more spins, pain then the expansion of love shown to me and the deep relaxation that has been able to happen as others have responded to my need for care. It occurs to me that responding and compassion are expansive expressions.
There have been the attempts at reaching out and expressing, the sweet experience of friends arriving to share food and then being called away by work dramas. I have been able to sit still and be for a time, just to rest and feel the breath. I have contemplated so much of my past pain. I have realised that even though it is past at times it still flares up. I guess this is what Eckhart Tolle calls The Pain Body.
Sometimes my pain body is very active. I have a find radar for pain in any case. Last night a friend brought around a documentary about a musician who had a very hard life, was extremely talented and only found true recognition much later in life. He never identified himself as a Super Star, though others were trying to fix him with this label. He sweetly and calmly laughed it off. The documentary touched me in the deepest way, his humility touched me in the deepest way. It made me question all the times I have felt the need to share about my pain and in sharing about it have released it, but on other occasions kept it alive and made something huge of it. How much have I held onto the pain too much by remembering. But I do know this remembering is necessary and just being able to feel others pain as well as my own is a gift, shows me that I am connected and not numb anymore.
And it occurs to me that sometimes it is more expansive to be with the pain without words and feel the pain than to identify with the pain, it is a fine line distinction, difficult to articulate. And probably as humans our entire relationship with pain is problematic.
As I am writing this blog some words of the Buddhist monk Thich Knat Hahn have come to me:
Take care not to water the seeds of suffering within you
Water the seeds of peace
Perhaps there is a way to be with pain that does not hurt us but heals us, that does not convert pain into suffering. And/or maybe there is a way to hold our pain tenderly within and birth from it the seeds of wisdom, love and compassion.
Some words that astrologer Liz Greene has written about the Saturn Pluto experience (which colours my emotional moon) come to me now.
Saturn Pluto is about wisdom born through the purification of suffering
and the ordeal by fire (Pluto)
At the conclusion of pain held tenderly and in full consciousness comes wisdom and forgiveness and peace. The burning ground is what we walk through to get there. In time the flames have done their work with us and find ourselves transformed in some way.
My prayer :
God help me be willing to surrender to these transformations
to shed the past so I can live free
awake and alive to the present moment
using all that I have experienced to help others
keep my ears and inward listening open
to the heart beat of love