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Suffering and spirituality 2

Discussion in 'Spirituality and ME/CFS' started by Nielk, Aug 27, 2011.

  1. Nielk

    Nielk

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    Ahimsa,

    thank you for your thought out post. It touched me. You are right we don't know what he future will bring. Aceeptance for the present situation, does not give up hope for the future.
    Thank you for reminding me.
    ps. i like your signature:)
     
  2. Ember

    Ember Senior Member

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    Thanks for your posts, Mandala. They've taken me on a journey back over a decade! I visited Edmonton for a couple of retreats shortly before I became ill, back in the days before John de Ruiter got himself into hot water. In response to your finding meaning in being, I've dusted off some long-forgotten tapes (company for these dark December days).

    Core acceptance was a key retreat theme then. And listening to those tapes now, I'm struck by how much ME ups the ante for me. I wonder if suffering isn't necessary for unconditional acceptance to emerge, a kind of blessing in a good disguise.

    As you say, it sure isn't easy. But honestly, I'm not sure it ever was. (A sober thought perhaps for this, the longest night of the year!)
     
    Nielk likes this.
  3. Nielk

    Nielk

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    Hi Ember,

    I'm happy to hear that you have found a way to "accept" and "find meaning in being" even through your suffering.

    I always feel inspired when people are able to do that.

    Thank you for your inspiration:)
     
  4. Mandala

    Mandala

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    I just posted this on another thread but thought it might be of interest on this one too.

    I had a strange experience when I got diagnosed with M.E., a certainty of knowing that having this illness would have spiritual meaning. I am not prone to thinking like that, and I would normally have reacted with anger and self-blame to such a diagnosis, so I was puzzled. But it seems to be true.

    The first two years following my diagnosis (activity level 2) created a space into which a very old trauma, that of having been raped, which I had never forgotten but never dealt with, presented itself in order to finally be come to terms with. This has been a difficult and lengthy process, but the ensuing understanding of all those fragmented pieces of me and my life, which had formerly been incomprehensible, has been an enormous relief and blessing. It was as if this traumatic experience needed the quiet space of my illness in which to come forth, for the trauma itself had occurred decades ago.

    There later developed a mood of inescapable resentment and anger at what I have been denied in my life that I was finding very difficult to deal with, with M.E. topping the list. My numerous daily rest times were plagued with poisonous thoughts.

    I do not know much about Buddhism, but one day I read Laurelbs blog on this site, a recent part in which she explores the question of what small candles we can be grateful for. I normally dont react well to that idea, but soon found myself unavoidably thinking of such things during my rests. I was astonished at how many things spontaneously arose that I could honestly be grateful for. One day, I thought of all the labourers who produced all the materials and all the labour that built the (now shabby) apartment I live in.

    So, for now anyway, all Im doing during my rests is breathing and giving thanks. This practice seems to bring much solace in and of itself, and I surprisingly find myself at ease with a solitary Christmas. Perhaps this is a good time to reflect on what is being incarnated within us through M.E.
     
  5. Nielk

    Nielk

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    Hi Mary,

    Thank you for sharing your very personal traumatic past experience and it's a great show of character how you were able to work it out of your system to the degree possible and come to a quiet place of reflection and gratefulness.
    I wish you a very calm and meaningful holiday. May the new year bring you peace of mind and wholeness of body.
     
  6. madietodd

    madietodd Senior Member

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    I just want to say thank you to Gabby for creating this safe place to share so profoundly. And then also to all who post such moving stories and insights. My journey is very internal at the moment, and I have no words for whatever is going on.

    So I've been silent, but deeply involved, and am grateful for this home within a home.

    Happy happy holidays to everybody!

    Hugs,

    Madie
     
  7. Wayne

    Wayne Senior Member

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    Merry Christmas

    Hi Mandala,

    I really appreciated your post when I read it a few days ago, but never got around to responding to it. I think it is so important what you're describing. I read once something to the effect, "If we're not grateful for what we have in the present moment, how can we create room for new things to come into our lives." I think it is one of those Universal principles that all religions and philosophies can probably agree on.

    I've seen some posts on this board how some who would like to meditate but have found it difficult to do so because of dealing with ME/CFS. I think counting (contemplating) one's blessings can be just as effective a spiritual tool as any meditation might be. That, and/or perhaps thinking of something or someone we love can both be exercises that can be uplifting for those whose traditional spiritual practices have been disrupted by this illness.

    I know you're anticipating a solitary Christmas; I hope it's OK to send along some Christmas greetings to you! :angel: And to everyone else on this thread and on this board!

    Merry Christmas... to you, and Nielk, and Ahimsa, and Madietodd, and Ember, and Mr. Cat, and u&iraok, and Richvank, and Sallyblooms, and Kurt, and Allyann, and Mary Poppins, and Dreambirdie, and .... whoever else I may have missed. (This sort of feels like a mini-PR version of the Waltons.) :Retro smile:

    :hug: HUGS :hug:

    Wayne
     
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  8. Sallysblooms

    Sallysblooms P.O.T.S. now SO MUCH BETTER!

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    Merry Christmas John Boy, I mean Wayne....:D We just got home from being with famiy for 10 days. A lovely Christmas. I hope everyone had a nice one and BIG hugs for all of those alone on Christmas. :hug:
     
    ahimsa likes this.
  9. Nielk

    Nielk

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    From AISH.com:

    Top Five Regrets of the Dying
    by Bronnie Ware
    It's not too late to avoid these common regrets in life.




    I read this article this morning and was touched by some of the things it mentioned.
    Thought I would share it here for others to read too.

    For me, personally, the one with the most impact is #5: " I wish that I had let myself be happier". That is one that I need to work on. I have been so busy
    either trying to find a way to recover from this dreadful disease or conversely to find a spiritual meaning for the suffering that I realize that I have really put HAPPINESS on the back burner. You might ask "how is it posible to be happy when you have so much suffering". At first glance I agree that it is difficult but, one still has to try.

    It says in Judaaism that "you have to serve God in happiness". Why is that so important? It puts you in a different frame of mind. You don't do it because you have to or because someone is pushing you to or out of fear. You are willingly and happily engaged in serving Him.
    The state of being happy even within your pain is possible. It is a choice we can make. We have a duty to try to achieve that and to take steps in our lives that can lead us there. It doesn't have to be big things. Even just getting a pedicure or manicure can be uplifting. Reading an engaging book or listening to music of our choice. Any action that makes our day a little more pleasurable is a worthwhile endeavor.
     
  10. Mr. Cat

    Mr. Cat Senior Member

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    Awakening Joy

    Thanks for sharing, Nielk. I have read this before about people who are close to dying, but also read another survey that the number one regret among retiring people is not these things, but that they haven't saved enough money for their retirement. Different perspectives for different life stages.

    #s 1-4 don't really apply to me, but #5 does. This year, I decided to make it my project to find more joy in life. I am reading the book Awakening Joy by Buddhist teacher James Baraz, who also teaches a yearlong course on just such a topic. I am too cheap/sick/unsocial to join the class, but plan to read the book, and make a real effort this year to access as much joy as I can, despite my physical situation. I have already recruited a friend to join me in this endeavor. I haven't gotten too far in the book yet, but my personal understanding of how to experience more joy is twofold: 1) Notice what makes you joyful, and do more of it, and 2) Try to immerse yourself as deep as you can, an as often as you can in the present moment.

    Several months ago, when I was in the depths of some bad sickness/suffering, I did a calendar experiment. For each day that I experienced any positive body sensation or mind mood/feeling at all, even for a second, I would place a mark on that day. The first month, I marked only 10 days out of the month that I felt any joy/happiness. The next month I tracked 18, and the next, I could find that almost every day, I could find at least one moment where my mind or body was feeling good. This coincided with a period of healing I have been going through, but I also found that, at the end of the day, if I hadn't experienced any positive mind/body sensations that day, I would sink into the present moment, maybe look deeply at something, or touch something around me and be aware of the touch. It didn't take long, but I would always feel a physical sense of deepening, of connection, that felt pleasurable, and there was my check for the calendar for that day.

    Here is a musing about joy by Paolo Coelho that I found interesting. Note he differentiates between happiness and joy. I was curious about the differentiation between the two, so did some quick unofficial online research. One source defined happiness as more egocentric, while joy involved a connection to others or something larger than onesself. To me joy feels ecstatic and ephemeral, something that comes and goes, almost without us noticing, if we aren't paying attention.

    http://paulocoelhoblog.com/2010/03/28/joy-is-like-sex/

    Im going in search of the adventure of being alive.

    And its complicated: why am I not looking for happiness when everyone has taught me that happiness is the only goal worth pursuing?

    Why am i going to risk taking a path that no one else is taking? After all, what is happiness?

    Love, they tell me. But love doesnt bring and never has brought happiness.

    On the contrary, its a constant state of anxiety, a battlefield; its sleepless nights, asking ourselves all the time if were doing the right thing. Real love is composed of ecstacy and agony. All right then, peace.

    Peace? If we look at the Mother, shes never at peace. The winter does battle with the summer, the sun and moon never meet, the tiger chases the man, whos afraid of the dog, who chases the cat, who chases the mouse, who frightens the man.

    Money brings happiness. Fine. In that case, everyone who earns enough to have a high standard of living would be able to stop work. But then theyre more troubled than ever, as if they were afraid of losing everything. Money attracts money, thats true. Poverty might bring unhappiness, but money wont necessarily bring happiness.I spent a lot of my life looking for happiness, now what i want is joy.

    Joy is like sex it begins and ends. I want pleasure. I want to be contented, but happiness? I no longer fall into that trap.




    And now back to the Suffering and Spirituality thread!
     
    CJB likes this.
  11. Nielk

    Nielk

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    Hi Mr. Cat,

    Thanks for your thoughtdul reply to my post. You give us practical advice. I like the fact of marking the days on the calendar. It is useful for a few reasons. It gives one
    a better picture and awareness of what's going on and it gives an incentive to look for ways to find happiness. It's all around us, we have to look for it.

    Happiness is very subjective as is love.

    One can be happy with just a moment of joy like a smile, a nod from a loved one to winning the lottery. Same with love. There is a love of a mother to a child which is unbreakable. We also use the word love, when we see art from a favorite painter or a show we enjoy watching on TV.

    Two weeks ago, I met up with a Kabbalah Rabbi that happened to be here on a traveling engagement from Australia. I wanted to ask him how can I ease the suffering that I am going through. This is a very knowledgeable Rabbi who delves into the deepest esoteric parts of the hidden secrets in Kabbalah. I was expecting him to tell me esoteric answers like, suffering is inevitable, one just needs to accept it. I was expecting for him to explain to me the meaning of my suffering and how it all fits in with the cosmos. I was very surpeised with his simple answers that he gave me to deal with my pain.

    #1 smile more often - even when you don't feel like it. When you physically keep smiling, it will eventually internalize and you will find that you will start feeling better. When we consistently act a certain way, our brains accept that as fact and reacts to it.

    #2 watch a comedy every day. Kind of like "laughter is the best medicine.

    #3 try to walk on the beach as much as you can. It's healthy and you can admire the beauty of nature.

    All three were physical actions. They weren't a way of thinking or feeling like acceptance or being in the moment. They were just three practical steps that anyone can take. Well, I can't always walk on the beach but, I can try to sit at the beach. What I learned from him is that sometimes there needs to be action in order to affect thought or feelings.
    It was an eye opener for me. He wasn't teaching me philosophy,. He taught me how to live.
     
    madietodd likes this.
  12. madietodd

    madietodd Senior Member

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    I love these ideas. Know any good comedy series? One a day! I need suggestions!
     
  13. Mr. Cat

    Mr. Cat Senior Member

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    For a while, my brain fog wouldn't let me read, and wouldn't let me sleep, so I turned to Youtube. To each his own, but I liked Chris Rock, The Office, and Head Case. Funny! Other than the current season of The Office, I don't think you can get the second two for free anywhere on the internet. I went through a period of watching old Louis Theroux documentaries for a while too. He's this unassuming British guy who would do specials on racy topics like the porn industry in America and would end up being a (clothed) extra in a porn film. Thankfully, I now have my mind back, and can enjoy reading again.
     
  14. ahimsa

    ahimsa Senior Member

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    There's a web comedy series called The Guild with very short episodes (I think between 5 to 10 minutes for each episode). It's all about online gamers. I don't even play any video games at all, much less these type of cooperative online games, but I still laughed at the series. I found it by accident when I was looking up some information about actress Felicia Day.

    Anyway, here's the link - http://www.watchtheguild.com/
     
  15. madietodd

    madietodd Senior Member

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    Great find! I love that they're short.........they'll last a long time!

    Thanks
     
  16. Nielk

    Nielk

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    Hate to rain on the "happy" parade here but, I just had a very "sad" experience reading a blog by the same Kabbalah Rabbi that I mentioned meeting up with.

    I woke up in a lot of pain. It seems that I'm developing another sinus infection. I opened my e-mail account and saw an e-mail saying "are you in pain?". I thought it must be a message from God to me telling me how to cope but, after I read it, I was left sobbing in tears:

    Is he for real? Is my acute pain an indication of a lack of faith or a character problem? I am so disillusioned by this answer. I have looked up to him as someone who has genuine answers but, realize I was a fool.
     
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  17. Merry

    Merry Senior Member

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    Neilk, with all that you have experienced, all that you endure daily, you could teach the Rabbi.

    I'm sorry for your disappointment and tears and even more sorry for your ongoing acute pain. Pain is terribly demoralizing. I truly wish a doctor could help you find relief. Whatever you've tried so far seems not even close to being adequate.
     
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  18. allyann

    allyann Senior Member

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    Hi Neilk,

    I had a similar experience a couple of weeks ago from a person who I trusted with spiritual advise. She wrote an article about illnesses being a state of mind. She apparently did a psychology degree twenty years ago. She mentioned ME in her article and said that it should be referred to as Many Excuses. There was also a plug for her workshops saying if you didn't commit financially you were not interested in growing spiritually.

    I was so angry after reading this. I have been to her for many treatments and she knows my limitations.

    After I calmed down I could see this was her ego talking and not the spirit.

    I guess we need to remember that these spiritual advisors that we look to are human and as such are fallible to their egos getting out of check. They forget their role of compassion and understanding and think that they need to instruct people on how to fix themselves. They should be point people to the spirit to find their own healing process.

    Anyway that's my rant.

    Allie



    Sent from my iPod touch using Tapatalk
     
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  19. Nielk

    Nielk

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    Thanks Merry and Ally,

    I need all the support I can get. I appreciate your responses.
    @Ally,
    give a hug from me to that very cute baby of yours!
     
  20. madietodd

    madietodd Senior Member

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    Nielk, was this email sent personally and individually to you? Because if not, then I think he just made a stupid mistake to send it to someone who regularly deals with unremitting pain.

    Everything he says is true of normal people. If we pay a lot of attention to our stubbed toe, it enlarges in our consciousness. Lots of studies. If we're living a 'normal' life and we experience emotional or spiritual pain (without an obviously painful event), it's a useful indicator that we should look inside. You know, stop blaming the world and check in.

    Your situation is completely out of the ordinary, and these ideas don't apply at all. I can't imagine that he was thinking of you when he wrote this.

    I'm pretty committed to not attaching stories to things. I don't know what God is, or is about, or is or isn't doing in my life. I just know I'm here breathing right now, and what am I doing with this exact moment that I'm living in? I hurt. What are my choices, right now? Meds? Doctor? Bath? Silence and darkness? God is or isn't causing/caring about this. I have no control over that, so I commit myself fully to doing whatever I can in this moment with what's right in front of me.

    I absolutely cannot believe in God punishing us for some mistakes we're making, with this illness, or pain, or insanity, or whatever. So I leave that possibility out of the equation. God is doing whatever God does, and I'm here living this life, as best I can. What does that look like, right this second?

    I'm really really sorry that you're getting slammed with this again. My heart is with you.
     
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