The wisdom of no escape

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Tuesday morning I felt like I might be fighting off a slight sore throat and cold. I did everything I could to dodge the illness but as the day went on I felt worse and worse. By bedtime I knew I was in for a difficult night. My throat hurt so much that it felt swollen. I began coughing and my entire body ached with that all-body ache that goes with influenza or a very bad cold.

Since then I’ve hunkered down at home, resting, taking warm showers and baths, reading and relaxing. But still I feel terrible. I want to escape it somehow. So I indulge in fantasies of having vitamin C and rest create a magical healing overnight.

A magical healing has not occurred and I am now on day 4 of this illness. It’s simply a virus of some kind and I will get better — but the only way out is through.

There are over-the-counter medications galore that promise an end to all my aches and pains, runny nose and coughs. But I seldom take those medications. My body doesn’t react well to most of them. But I often wish I could take something that would simply make all my symptoms disappear.

“There’s a common misunderstanding among all the human beings who have ever been born on the earth that the best way to live is to try to avoid pain and just try to get comfortable.”
― Pema Chödrön, The Wisdom of No Escape: How to Love Yourself and Your World

We live in a culture of seeking comfort and quick fixes. But sadly comfort and quick fixes are not always helpful or possible. I admit that for most of this week I wished I could find some kind of escape or quick fix. But somewhere along the way I realized how I was pushing my uncomfortable experiences away and that it really wasn’t working very well.

The wisdom of no escape

I began getting curious and open to what it would like to simply be present with all of it. It doesn’t make it “all better” but I am noticing an ease in simply being with it instead of pushing it away. By relaxing into acceptance of what is, I feel more peaceful and notice moments of well-being.

My plans for the week are now to simply listen to my body and take care of myself. I’m sad to miss the last beautiful week of fall color here in the Twin Cities. I had plans to get out with my camera to some of my favorite places this week. But the view from my window is beautiful and I can look out at the trees in our back yard and in the neighborhood as they turn color and shed their leaves. The bright blue skies and sunlight are delightful.

I have a some fresh flowers that I’ve photographed casually in the dining room as I wander around the house and I’m enjoying playing with no specific goal in mind. I know that the photographs I’ve made of them are not what I would do if I was feeling fully well, but I enjoy the little bit of play that I can do while I’m feeling so crappy.

Tune into your inner experience today. Particularly in moments of unpleasantness or difficulty. Notice what happens when you simply observe your experience instead of pushing it away.

                 Daily Good

For a few days I’m probably not going to find total physical comfort, I’m not going to be able to avoid the pain of this illness. But by breathing into it and allowing myself to become more aware I realize a deep sense of peace in each moment.

“When you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha” means that when you see that you’re grasping or clinging to anything, whether conventionally it’s called good or bad, make friends with that. Look into it. Get to know it completely and utterly. In that way it will let go of itself.”
― Pema Chödrön, The Wisdom of No Escape: And the Path of Loving Kindness

This is not how I planned to spend this week. Nor is it fun. But here I am, exploring the wisdom of no escape. I sit still, close my eyes, breathe in and breathe out.

Is it time to tune into your experience today? What do you notice?

May you walk in beauty.


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