How To Be Sick?

I continue to read Toni Bernhard’s new book, which I talked about a couple days ago.  I am learning a lot for sure, but I am overwhelmed with it all today.  So many good practices, but on a day when I feel sicker, I am not really sure how to be sick.

I worked 6 days straight..again…I am not supposed to be working that many days, but I did, 2 weeks in a row. But today I am off, and being off means my body decides to crash completely.  I always have big plans for my days off. More often than I wish to admit a day off ends up being time for recovery.  Today I feel like I have the flu, body-wise, achy and weird eye feeling like I have a fever, but I probably don’t.  And my headache is incredible and engulfing.  And lets not even talk about energy…or complete lack thereof.  My body feels like a noodle.

So how do I begin using the practices from How To Be Sick?  I keep taking little notes as I read the book; it’s like I think I will forget the good things I read, and I will never be able to go back and remember again. My fast evaporating memory is frightening.  So without looking at my notes, all I remember is that I should be compassionate with myself.

Have compassion for my sick little body.  This is what I am supposed to try to do  with this body that has turned on me?  I hate that I have gained, weight, I hate that I can’t go running across a parking lot just for the fun of it, I hate that I cannot come home from work and cook a lovely dinner for my husband every night, I hate that I feel like time is slipping away.

According to Buddhist thinking, the mental/emotional suffering I experience is rooted in my desires. And the mental suffering truly exacerbates the physical pain.  The word desire makes me think of something elicit, but in my case, the desires are pretty mundane.  I want my size 2 pants to fit, I want to hop on my bike or run a bit without considering the ramifications for my body, I want to care for my Love, recklessly and lavishly everyday.

Letting go of these desires is supposed to help me be better at living well with the way my life is…the way it has change to fit my pain.  So this is my work, and I must work hard at this. In my notes I wrote, open your heart to suffering, open yourself to the intense emotions that this illness brings.  So all these desires and hatreds, and despares I will try to just be with them.

Bernhard wrote this compassion verse from Tibetan Buddhist Master, Nyoshul Khenpo Rinpoche at the end of chapter 8:

Rest in natural great peace,
this exhausted mind.
beaten helpless by karma (causes and conditions) and neurotic thought
like the relentless fury of the pounding waves
in the infinite ocean of samsara (suffering filled life).

I will continue to contemplate these lines today, and I rest my body and mind in peace…I hope.

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