Coincidences in Life (does anyone else experience them like this?)

(An extract from my diary early August 2009, with a few words of explanation tacked on)

Pain & Suffering.

In the early hours of last Wednesday morning (5th August), I awoke bathed in perspiration and drenched in the most unbelievable pain imaginable. This was it, I thought. This was the worst pain I had suffered in several years. It felt like I was in a torture chamber with an electric current ripping through my right hip, thigh, knee, shin and calf. I jerked and thrashed around in bed trying to escape the pain. I could feel tears welling in my eyes and reached down to try and gouge out the pain (which was worst in my calf) with my thumb. Most of my right foot was numb which was more than a little worrying. Two permanently numb toes, due to nerve damage, on my right foot were bad enough during the daytime, without the numb sensation in my whole foot.

I rolled out of bed and staggered madly around trying to escape the pain. I couldnt bear the pain. Why me? What had I done to deserve these bouts of excruciating pain and suffering? Its not fair, I thought. If I had descended any more into this well of pain, I might have got the kitchen knife and tried to cut it out. I managed to get a couple of strong analgesics, swallowed them with some water and got back into bed. I rolled & flew around beneath the bedclothes for some time - until I eventually fell asleep some hours later, the strong analgesics reducing the pain somewhat.

The next morning I awoke as usual, to the shrill sound of my alarm clock. Groggily & with more than the usual exhaustion, I flung back the tangled bed covers, did my usual roll, turn & fling my upper body upright. Severe hip and lumbar pain and overall stiffness made the shuffle to the bathroom the slow dance of the arthritic elderly. My mornings had been like this for about 4 years since I had a month off work with 3 slipped (or bulging) lumbar discs several years ago. A lumbar microdiscectomy 12 months ago had eased the worst of the sciatic pain, which had made sitting in my office chair all day a misery.
Slow gentle movement, a soak in a hot bath and a 15 minute walk to work eventually bring me to a normal upright appearance and moving reasonably easily, but a couple of months ago, the sciatic pain had re-emerged.

As long as I change position or get up from my office chair regularly, I can survive for the eight hour work day. If I sit too long, it is difficult to stand & walk. By the time I walk down my office corridor to the end, I can usually walk more normally, if not necessarily pain free.

Every time I sit in a low chair for any length of time at home, the difficulty in rising & excruciating pain in my lower back & right hip remind me that I should be sitting in a high, hard backed chair for lumbar support.

On the following Friday night, I chose one of the books off the new book pile at random and took it to bed for a change. I rarely read in bed, because although much warmer, I get very stiff without some firm back support.

I had struggled to read this small paperback entitled Being Zen- Bringing Meditation to Life by Ezra Bayda.

I just couldnt get into it.

Every time I picked it up over recent months, I had read a few pages, not really paying much attention, just skimming over the sentences in a mindless fashion.

Of course every time I picked up the book again, Id forgotten the content of what Id read previously.

I had been seduced by the review Bayda writes with exceptional clarity and simplicity about the awakened life. He has a gift for describing ordinary mind or the customary thoughts, feelings and experience of everyday life. With clarity and compassion, Bayda applies Zen Buddhist principles to everyday life. He explains how all experiences, both pleasant and unpleasant, help us to discover our path to wisdom and on open heart. Presented here are realistic suggestions to help us survive the journey
Ezra Bayda is a Zen teacher affiliated with the Ordinary Mind Zen School.. A student of meditation for more than thirty years, he live, writes, and teaches at the San Diego Zen Center in San Diego, California.

Anyway, on that Friday night, I opened the book to the next chapter indicated by my tattered bookmark. This lovely & well-used bookmark is of a Burmese manuscript on Buddhas first sermon on The Four Noble Truths that life is full of suffering. Its a beautiful & much treasured bookmark, like many of my collection but I didnt really need to be reminded that Life is Full of Suffering. I had had enough over recent years to understand every letter in every one of those five words.

How apt to use this particular bookmark (out of the dozens I have) to mark chapters about Fear, Pain & Suffering. I had never noticed that when I placed it there some months ago.

I wonder why I chose this bookmark on that particular day, to mark chapters about that subject.


I was up to Chapter 9, so the bookmark indicated Practicing with Fear.
..The List of what were afraid of is very long. Our most basic fears include the fear of disease, the fear of pain, the fear of losing control and being helpless, and the fear of the unknown(& so on..) The strongest fear of all may be the fear of fear itself.

And so the chapter went on analyzing fear and how to deal with fear, and address the root of fear.

Then on to Chapter 10 Practicing with Pain and Suffering. And these words are straight from the book..

The days turn into weeks, the weeks turn into months, and the pain and discomfort become more and more debilitating. The mind cries out for relief. Why is this happening to me? This is too much to bear. What will become of me? Naturally there is a great resistance to the physical pain and discomfort. And unmistakably there is suffering.

But how did the pain turn into suffering?

And what is actually happening in the moment?

Bayda goes on to talk about being one with the pain and understanding both our pain and suffering are truly our path, our teacher. Once we understand this and how it relates to our lives, we can begin to deal with the layers of pain and suffering that make up so much of our existence.

Bayda goes on with a description of an acute and prolonged relapse of his immune system disease and his feelings of anger, self-pity, depression and helplessness and how his meditation practice deals with these thoughts.

So, there it was Teachings on understanding pain and suffering. And more importantly, Bayda had an immune system disease which gave him the same feelings of anger, helplessness & self-pity

Two chapters which addressed my intense emotional distress and pain of the other night.

Lifes like that.

Coincidence, I mean.

A night of severe pain and suffering, and 3 days later, a random choice of reading material (from a dozen or so new books piled up beside my chair) and also, a bookmark on Life is Full of Suffering (from the Four Noble Truths).

Do you experience coincidences like this?



pink2day;bt165 said:
Your description of the pain and getting out of bed is the exact description of my mornings 5 or 6 days out of 7. Most mornings, as early at 2 am I'm in a hot bath trying to relieve the pain so I may attempt to get the much needed sleep to relieve the fatigue.

Round and Round I go! I'm sure you all have had a ride on my merry-go-round that isn't so very merry!
A couple of years ago, I would set my alarm clock for 4.30am, take 2 prescription strength analgesics & lie down again & go back to sleep. Then I would wake & get up with drastically reduced pain & stiffness in the mornings. I even managed to do a few back stretching exercises.

But after exactly 3 weeks, it stopped working. The morning pain & stiffness was back worse than ever.
So now I keep prescription analgesics for only the very, very worst episodes, otherwise I would become addicted to drugs and the one thing I refuse to allow to happen is become a "drug addict" (just to keep a full time job).

This past winter has been very different though. I have put lavender oil on my hot water bottle cover and on my pillow an hour before bed & then when I get in, I move the hot water bottle down to my feet & wrap my feet around the lavender scented heat.

I have slept through the night about 85-95% of the time. And as the winter progressed I slept better & better (ie the lavender essential oil effect seemed to built up, even though I was using the same amount of oil each night). I can't recommend it highly enough for sleep.

So I guess I will be the only person in Melbourne using a hot water bottle during the hot 40degree days & nights next January/February.

What a time you've had. That Zen Center is in San Diego - where I spend half the year.

My fear is that ME/CFS becomes more and m ore a pain disease over time. The last couple years have been a steadily losing battle with what appears to be IBS plus I have plus a year of shoulder pain.

I notice that stress and anxiety ( about the pain of course) only exacerbate the pain. His words are well taken. Thanks
Cort;bt168 said:
What a time you've had. That Zen Center is in San Diego - where I spend half the year.

My fear is that ME/CFS becomes more and m ore a pain disease over time. The last couple years have been a steadily losing battle with what appears to be IBS plus I have plus a year of shoulder pain.

I notice that stress and anxiety ( about the pain of course) only exacerbate the pain. His words are well taken. Thanks

my severe IBS pain & diarrhea for 4-5 hours every night for months on end, a few years ago were unbelievably excruciating. Let alone sitting in my office trying to work & dashing to the bathroom every 30 minutes or so. But the fact that I was only getting about 2 hours sleep meant I was getting to work about 10.00am & leaving at 2.00pm. At the time I thought I was dying (some nights).

But that is in the past. I have about 7-8 episodes a year now. Maybe about 6 of those will be because I've eaten the wrong thing. But the episode I related above was without warning. I don't know what caused it. And it was nearly my "undoing".

Will post about some of my IBS experiences another time.

After two significant, geographic moves (mountains in NC) now living at Jersey Shore, have made attempts to update self on past two years of others' treatments having positive effects, Have been in and out of adequate pain 'management' due to having to re-establish with such doctors, as you mention not wanting to lean toward addiction label. So similar are your descriptions of the daily effort to be mobile and get the day rolling! Pain certainly causes a severe stress state esp. when chronic. Not able to post frequently but needed to thank you for your posts and this community which Cort has nurtured, assembled with great care. The time spent today, has motivated and reassured me of the kindness and wisdom of 'strangers', Also has brought me closer to serious consideration of trying Gupta tx after reading Cort's tx blog. Hope that I have posted in correct mode, although my mind feels superstimm'd and body weary, the benefit of connecting with likeness is powerful. thanks. Sue C.

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