It is important to have some sense of structure to your day, week or month to not feel as though we are putting in time. Nothing is more depressing than waiting for the next doctor’s appointment, the next referral, MRI or surgery.
I know the early days of illness or injury can be wrought with finding out what is wrong, and how to fix it. Once the initial medical stuff is sorted out, it is important to find some goals and have a purpose to focus on. I remember in those early days with me, when it was clear there would be a wait to have tests, meet with specialists and so on. I felt like my life was on hold. I don't allow that to happen now. It is still on hold in many ways, only because I am limited by the things I can do and the unpredictability of the pain. But I still make plans as its important to look beyond.
One thing I planned this winter was a Mindfulness Meditation course for those in pain. I remember thinking it was a huge undertaking. It was when I was in pain and waiting to see my neurosurgeon and having all the tests done. The course was thirteen weeks and it was a full afternoon each week. I looked ahead and thought I would probably never get through it, but I registered anyway with a sense of determination.
When I called to ask about the comfort of the room and chairs I was told every accommodation would be made to make sure participants were comfortable. I am always aware of the environment and how it affects me and I knew if I had to sit long term or in an uncomfortable chair, the course would do more harm than good. I felt reassured but still uncertain if this was the right fit for me at this time. It would have been easy to say no.
I have to admit I was nervous the first week as everyone piled into the room, I didn't see any sign of a chair that was reasonable for me to sit on for three hours. Drawing attention to myself to ask for that chair took everything I had in me. I was so emotionally uncomfortable that I almost didn't do it. When I did, the seat part of the chair was broken, tilted forward and unable to be fixed. I was surprised at how quickly the others came to my aid and tried to fix it and then asked for another chair for me. They got ’'it’ and there was no judgement or criticism, just understanding. We were off to a good start.
That's compassion, true compassion. Although each and every one of those people were there to deal with pain in their own lives; they had room in their hearts to have compassion for me that day. Not only did they not judge me, they helped me to get what I needed. Had that not worked out that day, I don't think I had it in me to fight for another chair. I walked in there drained and they filled me up. That's how the weeks continued; with a knowing look, a hug or a smile and there were oh so many of them. We cared for each other.
During those thirteen weeks there were many days that I had to drag myself there, and I was always glad I had. I had an appointment in Toronto on the day of the course and I even arranged to go to the course at the Toronto venue. I missed two classes of thirteen, on days when I just couldn't walk, but I got to eleven of the weeks.
It was worthwhile, I learned a lot and I know if I hadn't gone, the winter months would have dragged by without me learning more about meditation for pain.
I now have a new group of friends, new skills and a way to help that fits well with all the other things I have learned over the years.
In the past, before I had pain, this would have been one of the many things I fit into my day. I wouldn't have given it a second thought, this time however I had to structure my day and week around it. It gave it more purpose than it ever would have in the past, that's for sure. So perhaps I got more from it because it was necessary to give so much focus, just to get myself there. I sometimes hear others my age talking about their weeks or weekends jammed packed with activities. I used to feel some resentment or disappointment that I couldn't do that. I
actually don't miss that now, I enjoy every special minute I have with family and friends. We do things we love and are able to focus on that without running off to the next thing. I guess that's acceptance and living a truly mindful life.