Today on Facebook, I got this message in my news stream from one of my friends. It went like this: "I hate to ruin the ending for you - but everything is going to be okay". I wasn't sure if I found that message reassuring or patronizing. I guess it depends on your point of view.
Just two weeks ago - I had an MRI and a spinal tap to rule out a scary diagnosis. I remember being in the MRI machine (enclosed in the noise of medical technology) absolutely terrified. Is it possible that I could have brain tumor? What would happen to my life then? My family? As I got deeper in my scary thoughts I could feel my anxiety building and start to spiral out of control.
I felt the same way as I laid on my side as a doctor that I didn't know, stuck a huge needle into my spin while I screamed so loud that I am sure that I shook the hospital walls. I was a rapidly growing ball of fear whose very fear was not helping me cope.
I tried to comfort myself by turning my mind to thoughts that were not so scary. It was a skill that I had recently learned at The Mind/Body Restoration Retreats near Ithaca, NY. And one that I have been sharing with my own life coaching clients.
I didn't have to think about brain tumors even though I was in a MRI machine being scanned for one. Instead, I could empty my mind of fear - and just think about my breath, or what I would be having for dinner after the test was done. I decided that I really wanted Korean food.
I never understood meditation - frankly I couldn't be still long enough to sit and quiet my mind. I felt if I wasn't moving - that I wasn't living. Even yoga, felt too still for me. So sitting for meditation was new for me - and receiving instruction about Zen Meditation was surprisingly fascinating.. I have to admit that I took it all in with both a skeptical and an open mind.
David, our instructor at the retreat center - talked a lot about clearing out our minds of uncomfortable thoughts and connecting to our bodies. He taught that feel uncomfortable was in many ways a choice and that we could chose our thoughts. It's an interesting theory - isn't it? And I bet if we could all really practice this, our stress levels would drop incredibly low - making dramatic leaps in our health and well being right?
So, I could choose to believe that "everything was going to be okay". And in the end it was - but maybe it is more about accepting what "being okay" actually is. What can you accept as "Okay" and what can we all let go of as unimportant.
I am working on this...
As they say in the world of integrative health care, spirituality, and new age thinkers - it is all a practice. I have to be perfectly honest that consciously turning my thoughts from painful ones to more pleasant ones helped me survive my health crisis in a much more calm and beneficial way. The ending would have been the ending anyway. As the saying goes "Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional".
Perhaps the lesson is not that things always go right for us, or that we are always comfortable in our lives. I don't know anyone that is true for. The choice seems to be that we simply, don't have to focus on the discomfort and wallow in it. If we can believe on a deeper level that somehow, no matter what the out come is, that we will indeed be "Okay" - perhaps we can change our entire experience of living.