Archives for posts with tag: Rx strength mindfulness

I woke up in pain this morning, more pain than most mornings, and particularly more so than recent mornings.  A morning with an unusual amount of pain kicks over some self-care dominoes pretty quickly, and I found myself clumsy, slow, and emotional before I’d even finished my first coffee.

Clumsy with pain, and not my best cup of coffee. One morning, one moment, of many.

Clumsy with pain, and not my best cup of coffee. One morning, one moment, of many.

I’m okay, really. At this point, I am struggling more with the un-eased stiffness of my arthritic spine than with the pain itself. Coffee #2 is quite excellent, and I’m finding a bit of yogurt with some oats and dried fruit mixed in quite satisfying for a late bite of breakfast. The morning is a good one, pleasantly relaxed and without stress…aside from the pain, the stiffness, and the coming and going of emotions associated with those experiences. I am in enough pain to evoke tears, each time the pain resurfaces. The stiffness of my joints makes me ‘feel old’ more than the pain itself does, but the pain is what moves me to tears. Now and then I contemplate just going back to bed, although it was likely some characteristic of how I was sleeping that finds me here this morning. I feel frustrated and annoyed.

I checked in with my traveling partner online between coffees. I miss him greatly, and we had discussed hanging out today. I am a lot less fun when I hurt this much. I feel the frustration in the background, and a yearning to ‘force myself’ through ‘whatever it takes’ to ease my pain – not because I hurt, but because I want so much to hang out with my traveling partner and enjoy that time together wholly undistracted by pain. Punishing myself because I am trapped in this fragile vessel, limited by mortal limitations, isn’t really a good way to treat myself – or to get the results I’d like, either, and tends to put me in a bad mood over time. I stop myself long enough to recognize that I am doing my best, and remind myself that it is enough.

I put myself on pause to meditate. I take time to do some yoga. Both these things offer some measure of relief of both the pain, and the emotionality. I sit quietly, and enjoy my coffee while watching the rain fall just beyond the patio door. I’m okay right now. Pain is what it is, and I am dealing with that today, but what I’m not having to deal with is treating myself poorly for a condition in life that is not worthy of blame, or punishment. I’ll enjoy the day, in spite of the pain I am in – because it isn’t the pain that determines the quality of my experience, it’s just something I have to deal with.

I take some good deep breaths, sip my coffee, and pay attention to my posture as I write; it is an easy enough bit of mindfulness to bring to my experience and relieves considerable discomfort. I lose sight of it repeatedly and, as with any bit of mindfulness, that’s to be expected. I begin again. And yet again. I keep practicing. Over time, I relax more comfortably with better posture, slowly encouraging muscles that may not have been doing their part to become stronger and more involved. Incremental change over time is a powerful thing. With the yoga too, postures that were too difficult upon waking are now within reach, and later today I will achieve others that offer still more relief. The toughest of the practices on a morning like this one is simply being patient with myself, and giving myself the time and consideration to get results more slowly than I might on another day.

I smile thinking of my traveling partner, and hope that his morning is going well, and that his coffee is excellent, also. Today is a good day to smile, and enjoy what each moment offers; the moments themselves are so few in a mortal lifetime. Today is a good day to appreciate what is working out well, and any improvements that develop over time. Today is a good day to appreciate the woman in the mirror and to treat myself well, rather than criticizing my best efforts on a difficult day. Today is a good day to enjoy my coffee and listen to the rain fall. It’s enough.


I woke at 1:37 am to a loud bang. I returned to sleep. I woke again at 4:21 am for no reason that was obvious, and went back to sleep again. When I woke to the alarm, it was a bit as if I was never sleeping. My brain seemed pretty busy from about 1:37 am on until the morning alarm. Mostly playing mc chris’ “Tarantino” on repeat in the background of my consciousness. What’s that about? My back aches with the ‘everyday pain’ of arthritis. Yoga is difficult this morning. Sitting with good posture is difficult.

My coffee is neither creamy nor sweet.

This morning these are simply my experience, my observations. I feel pretty positive and basically ‘okay’ as an emotional being. It’s a nice change from Wednesday.

Wednesday, a bit like this.

Wednesday, a bit like this.

Yesterday wasn’t bad at all. It started well, ended comfortably, and aside from a distinct lack of physical comfort in my experience, the day proceeded well between the beginning and end.  Yesterday’s high points? Love, and roses.

"Baby Love" rose [Scrivens, 1992] first to bloom in my garden this year.

“Baby Love” rose [Scrivens, 1992] first to bloom in my garden this year.

My very human experience has its ups and downs. This morning is still so new there’s no knowing. I meditate, sip coffee, study, do yoga, and prepare to face the world. I feel, for the moment, content and complete, in spite of my arthritis, in spite of pain, in spite of the headache, the bitterness of my coffee, or the slightly sick feeling of mornings. A little later than now, I’ll leave for work, probably have to remind myself to grab my cane before I go; it is an encumbrance as much as a help, and like I child I tend to abandon it anywhere I happen to sit down, if I happen to stand up with ease when I return to movement. lol

In spite of pain, and the unsteadiness of my knees lately, I still walk as much as I can. I’m still getting in about 5 miles a day, about 3 of that is commute, spread out over the morning and evening, and 2 miles for a walk midday. If I ‘give my knees a rest’ and allow myself to succumb to the illusion that not using them will somehow put things right, I put myself at risk of gaining weight, pretty much immediately. I keep walking every day I can put weight on my knees and ankles at all. (I’m heavier than I’d like to be, and very much aware of the toll that is taking on my knees and ankles. Stabilizing my weight below 200 lbs is within reach, and I’ll be very happy to hit that benchmark.)

Still, the pain is what it is, and it is part of my experience. As much as I look forward to the beauty of spring, and a lovely walk on a nice day, there’s a bit of a ‘Little Mermaid” element to it; every step may be painful. Growth has often felt that way to me; every step painful, journey and destination worth the difficulty.

Pain is a shared experience. Most people have some. It’s odd to be in a group of people and observe that one person commenting on their experience of pain or discomfort tends to launch a round of compare/contrast statements, with some one-up-man-ship thrown in for flavor. I try to stay out of those, and regret it when I launch one. Few things result in feeling less heard about hurting than everyone else chiming in about how much they also hurt. Everyone wants to feel heard about pain.  I’m not sure anyone ever does.  Our own pain is so visceral. The pain of others tends to be far less so.  I have been working on compassion first, sympathy, understanding – hearing that this human being speaking to me is hurting, and recognizing their experience, without sharing mine, even out of sympathy. (Allowing them to have their experience, feel nurtured and supported, and not diminished by my experience, or denied the opportunity to be individual. ) I don’t know that it does or does not ‘work’ any better than countering every tale of discomfort with one of my own, but it seems likely to be less annoying or dismissive.

It’s Friday. Looks like a quiet solo evening on the calendar. I find myself hesitant to be at all excited about it. I’d rather not become invested in the outcome and have to deal with disappointment if life throws some changes in the mix. I’m eager to spend some time on my writing and dive deeply into meditation without a timer, clock, or deadline on the other side.  It’d be nice to look forward to doing that pain-free, but that’s unrealistic these days, so I don’t bother about the pain until it speaks up with enough force to be a real game-changer.

Friday. Black coffee. A backache. Spring flowers. A quiet morning. This is not only ‘not bad’ – it’s actually pretty good.