Saturday, June 7, 2014

What am I feeling?

Journeying down the tumor and neurological inflammation trail the last few years I’ve had a shift in the way I think about pain and different sensations in my body that might be worth sharing here.
After a 25-year "no-tears" record (from 15 to 40 years old), I began a pursuit of naming my emotional experience.  I was pretty well shut-off emotionally for a long time, so it was helpful for me to ask "How do I feel?" regularly.  And, to keep it simple, I only used the four primary emotions of anger, sadness, fear, and joy.  I became adept at tying emotion to whatever I was feeling in my body.  I believed myself when I would think, "Oh, my shoulders are tight, I must be mad.”  Or, "that sinking feeling in my gut combined with tears is sadness.  I feel sad." 
When all kinds of weird stuff started happening in my body a few years ago I would do the same thing. “Oh, it’s my T2 acting up and causing my feet to go numb” or "My compression fractures are carrying some stress and in pain" and the like.
Then, a good friend suggested that I just allow whatever sensations I am having to simply be sensations, and focus on them that way.  In a sense, he said, “Let go of all the story you make up about the sensation and experience it as a sensation.”  It has been incredibly helpful to me.  Instead of getting wrapped up in any kind of made-up story, I can just simply notice my feet feeling numb, or swollen, or painful, or my legs vibrating, or the base of my skull hurting, or any number of other sensations that I feel regularly.  When I focus on them as a sensation, they tend to abate.  It’s kind of odd but it works. 

What I’m learning about inflammation and pretty much all the auto-immune issues is that they are all tied to well-being.  Everything including food, exercise, rest, emotional expression, connection with self and others, creative outlets, prayer and gratitude, mental challenge and meditation… all of it… contributes to reducing inflammation in my body.  And, that's when I feel most alive.