I’ve been taking classes in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for about about a year now. It’s offered through Jefferson Hospital / University in Philly and I live just over the bridge into Jersey. When you get the hang of it they offer more classes that teach you to use this technique to expand your heart and mind.

    I was in a bad place. So much pain. Anger that I was dealt these cards. People didn’t get it. They wanted to see big red swollen joints. RD doesn’t work like that. I lost my Dad. I learned that society thinks in a few weeks you should be finished mourning and fine again. No one wants to hear six months later that you have terrible pain that they cant see and you still miss your Dad every single day. I tried so many things. MRSR was one of the things that really helped. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t stop taking my meds or using my other coping tools. I just added this to the mix. Somewhere along the way MBSR started opening my heart to more than just pain management.

    MBSR is something I have come to really enjoy. It has helped me on lots of different levels. My biggest issues are chronic pain and stress management. It’s brought me peace in ways that I never thought it would and I am a happier person. This is helping me. So I want to share a little bit about it. First let me say MBSR it is not a religion or group. I was raised Catholic and although the Catholic Church has had some pretty bad years, it is still my religion. Ok, so I’m not great at going to church every week. I’m Catholic, just not a real good one. I think meditation is a lot like saying the rosary. It gets you into this zone where reality fades a bit and you just repeat the words over and over and start to feel different. Sort of comforted.

    So many people tell me “I could never meditate. My mind is just all over the place.” Me too! Its one of the reasons that I wanted to try it. Having a quiet mind for just a little bit would be such a relief. My best explanation is that meditation is more about focus than trying to make your mind go blank. Then when you get to the point where you can slow that mind down, things happen. You can focus on that damn pain. Or wishing others well. Or even taking care of yourself.

    Let me give you an example. I have a couple people in my life that make me crazy. People that I am ashamed to say I truly do not like. Don’t we all have a person like that? Every interaction leaves you frustrated and angry? Then those feelings of frustration and anger grow and take on a life of their own. Soon that person becomes less of a person and more of an object for these negative feelings. It feels crappy and you cant see any way that this will ever get better.

    Obviously I will never be able to change that person into my BFF. I can change me and my heart. I practiced a Loving Kindness guided meditation for weeks on end. I would get all relaxed and in my meditation “zone”. My teacher’s voice came through my headphones and I picture my pain in the ass……

May you be peaceful and happy

May you be safe from harm

May you be as healthy and strong as you can be

May you live with ease of well being

    I send these wishes with all my heart. I know there is no magic to make these wishes come true. Its not about that. Its that I feel those wishes. My heart opens. I send them all these wonderful gifts.

    The voice on my headphones gently leads me into wishing this for myself too. I picture myself as a child, as a teenager and myself now. These heart felt words enable me to comfort myself. Yes, RD really does suck. And it’s NOT fair. And it makes me mad! But I recite and feel the words in my mind.

May you be peaceful and happy

May you be safe from harm

May you be as healthy and strong as you can be

May you live with ease of well being

The anger goes down a bit.

    Now the teacher expands these wishes to everyone everywhere. Everyone deserves these things. Everyone wants peace and happiness. I send this peace to them all. It feels good. I stand up, go back to my life and I feel lighter and peaceful.

    I practice meditations for pain and coping and stress. I try to let got of my struggle to control everything. I’ve learned how very little I can control especially with RD. I have such little control over it. I tell myself that I’m just riding the waves of life. I repeat it to myself all the time. “Just riding the waves.” The more that I let go of feeling responsible for everything and attempting to make life go my way, the more I start to enjoy riding those waves.

Ups. Downs. Surprises. Heartbreaks. Joy.

No control. Just riding the waves.

-You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. – Mae West

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