Desert Super Bloom of Love

The desert always has more to teach. In the past, I came to the desert seeking power. This time I asked to learn about Love.

The desert greeted me and my students with the sweet scent of wild flowers perfuming the warm air. Birds cooed and chirped while bees buzzed and kissed every open bloom. A blanket of green draped over the mountains, soft and inviting – a stark contrast to their typical burnt brown vegetation and sun-bleached stone.

We left the retreat house in the late afternoon and drove through the deep sand to a cliff tucked away in the folds of the desert canyons. The sun sank behind the mountains, turning the sky a fiery yellow and orange. Mars rose white and bright as the last rays of sun splashed pink across the sparse streaks of cloud.

Deep blue gave way to velvet black while Orion stood proud with his bow outstretched and his sword hanging at his side. All thought fell silent as the sky yawned wide, revealing the Milky Way and a million sparkling diamonds…so many worlds of Light.

In the loving arms of the desert, She let me play with the energy and twist our perception. Laying down our backs, we watched the stars dance above us. With a slight push of occult pressure, the world turned, and we felt as if we were standing, leaning against a wall in front of an open doorway to the stars. The students giggled, and shifting us once again, we flipped back and then upside down. We stared down, watching the ocean of stars, our bodies glued to the ceiling of dirt as the universe spun around below us. In these moments, the desert taught me the love of play and laughter.

As we packed up, one student had trouble standing. Two others rushed to helped her, and in that moment, I witnessed the love of sangha. Selflessly and without hesitation or judgment, spiritual friends lifted one in need and helped her down the steep hill.

The next day, I saw self-love as she chose to stay at the retreat house while the rest of us ventured out again. She went within at the house where she could learn from the desert while respecting the limits of the body.

Upon heading back to our secret spot, this time late at night under the star-filled sky, we found a tent pitched. We sat silently on the cliff, not far from the tent. The desert continued to teach the theme of love, this time of a couple engaged in idle chatter, waiting for us to leave! After a few minutes of meditation, the desert reveled to me a new place where we could sit, and each group could have their privacy.

After driving through the sandy canyons and washes, we came upon the spot I had seen. The wash opened wide, and we sat on a hard shelf of sand that formed a type of sidewalk to keep us off the road. The first area we had been was one of seeing and third eye vision. This new site was all heart: expansive yet protected, spacious yet full. The desert washed us with pure love, as we sat in Her and with Her, merging mind with Eternity.

The next day, my students left. I had hoped my husband would join me in a wild flower hunt, but tired and sore from hockey practice, he stayed home. I recognized the love of relationship, where we respect each other’s needs and wants.

Alone in the retreat house and in the wide desert, I saw that was not the end of it as an old samskara arose within me. I had asked to learn about love, and the desert delivered once again.

I love adventure, and I love sharing adventures with others. The pattern from the past is to always take someone with me. I’ve broken this pattern many times, and many times it has returned. This time, in the stillness of the desert, I saw beneath the pattern. I witnessed the loneliness of not having someone to share the beauty with, and the loneliness of not having another actor in the story.

Sitting with full awareness of this sadness and loneliness, I realized in each moment it is enough to enjoy the beauty and connection with Eternity. And I realized alone, I am enough, always and in all ways.

As Eternity washed away the remnants blocking my heart, vulnerable and small, I opened deeper. I see how my will pales against Her might, and once again I see I am not the doer; I am being done.

On the last morning, I walked along a trail at the base of a mountain I had discovered on a solo adventure the previous day. I found the perfect boulder for meditation, where I could sit above the ground fully supported. Bees buzzed all around, like the hive upon Kali’s head. In this place, there is no fear. There are only beings doing what needs to be done, collecting the sweet nectar. A dragonfly danced around me as the clouds alternated sun and shade. And the birds continued their cooing and chirping.

I dissolved once again into Mother Earth and melted into the Sun. I am loved and I am love. Even in my forgetting, my heart knows I am being done.

*Please note: Going alone into the desert or any wilderness is dangerous. Be smart by staying near populated trails and checking in with park rangers before and after your adventures. You don’t want to break your leg in an accidental fall and become ant food because no one knows where you are!


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Closer Than We Think

We are One
There is no Time
There is no Space
Those we miss are
Closer than we think

Last night I dreamed I was sharing flyers about Dharma Center. I rode a bicycle that would turn into a motorcycle whenever I needed some extra power. (I love how dreams instantly give you what you need!) After distributing flyers throughout Orange County, I followed the signs to get on the freeway to head up to Los Angeles.

The signs lead me on a narrow, curving ramp with steep drop-offs that was like going downhill on a roller-coaster. At the bottom, instead of being on the freeway, I found myself in a beach parking lot in an area resembling Big Sur. There were lots of people, so I started handing out flyers.

A woman walked up to me to get one, and Rama was standing next to her. As she took the flyer from me, she told me how much she missed Rama. Even though they were clearly together, she didn’t know who he was. I looked over at him, and he winked.

She read the flyer and then showed it to her friend who was really Rama. He nodded and smiled. She told me how excited she was to learn about Dharma Center, and again went on and on about how much she missed Rama.

“Well, I guess that’s why I would up here,” I said. “I thought I was getting on the freeway.”

Rama replied, “They really need to fix those signs, huh?”

He laughed and then I woke up.

Rama meditating


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O, to be a pratyeka-buddha
Dissolved in private nirvana
At peace as an eternal student of the Buddha
But I know this Enlightenment
is not mine.

I see the endless game of samsara
How could I ignore the cries
of those who suffer from delusion?

Jumping in with both feet,
This tantrika sings the hymns
Illuminating the illusion
For those with eyes to see.

Although the body experiences
pleasure and pain
and the cascade of thoughts,
the Mind rests in Light,
ever perfect, shining bright.


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New Year’s Tantric Dance

Hot and cold. Tired and Awake. Weak and Strong.
Past, present, future and the Eternal Moment.
This is the reconciliation of opposites.

I am a rainbow of infinite awareness
stretching out in and as all the worlds.
I am the mind focusing on and experiencing
God and soul.
I am you. I am me.
I am everyone. I am no one.

I hear the screams of carrots ripped from
their cozy earthen beds.
I hear the belly of the body
rumble with hunger.
Everything eats.
Yet no one is eating.

The pain of being finite
Leads to the ecstasy of infinity
If we let go of Me
Then the dance
Guides the dancer
Now Free.



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20 Second Meditation Technique

When I visited my family over Thanksgiving, my 12-year old niece wanted to learn how to meditate. The morning before our little class, she was having a rough day. Although she was feeling grumpy, she still was excited to learn. I shared with her this very simple 3 breath meditation technique. Her face lit up with a big smile and her mind was completely blown by the concept that she could shift so rapidly and with such ease. My wish is this technique do the same for you.

Enjoy the video!

Peace Within

Abandon ill-will and hate
Abandon envy and greed
Abandon anger and sorrow
Abandon ignorance and delusion
Abandon all these like a sinking ship
For that’s what they are
Bloated with self-importance
They will drag you down to
the depths of suffering.

Cultivate Gratitude and Loving-Kindness
Be neither attracted nor repulsed
And rest in equanimity
Develop altruistic joy and compassion
Move beyond pleasure and pain
And discover Peace within



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Drug Holiday and Opioid Awareness

Recently I went on a drug holiday. Because of the wonders of smart phones, it gave me time to read more articles, posts, and comments on Facebook than usual. In that odd close-knit virtual world, I discovered countless people with legitimate pain issues being treated with suspicion and asked to perform unreasonable steps in order to obtain pain medication from their doctors. There’s always been a stigma attached to using pain killers; however it’s become much worse than I realized. So I’ve decided to share this story of my past month to help raise awareness.

If you’ve read Peace with Pain, then you know I live with constant chronic pain from a currently incurable illness. Part of my treatment program involves taking pain medication, and includes an opioid by the name of Norco. This past year, the pills stopped working as well as it used to, despite all of my efforts to rest, practice pacing, and utilize herbal remedies. Doctors call this Tolerance. My doctor offered to increase my dose, or if I wanted to try a stronger medication, she could send me to a pain management specialist. (Because of new regulations and restrictions promoted by the DEA, she is no longer allowed to prescribe Percocet or anything stronger than Norco.) Starting over with a new doctor can be a nightmare when you have a cluster of chronic conditions, and taking stronger medications has a whole list of problematic issues, so I declined. Instead I told her I would try a drug holiday again before considering her offer.

With 18 years of chronic pain, I’ve faced this problem before. The solution to drug tolerance is not easy, but for me, it’s effective and has allowed me to stay at the same dose for over 12 years. (It took several years to find what medications offer me to most functionality.) The answer is what I call a Drug Holiday.

I have no medical training, so nothing here is medical advice. TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR FIRST if you want to go down this road yourself.

Without any scientific backing, it’s my theory that the body adapts to whatever conditions exist. In my case, there is an illness causing pain. The Norco blocks the pain receptors in the brain, and tricks the body into thinking the pain has decreased. (Nothing gets rid of all the pain – sorry to burst your bubble.) The body can then function at a higher level because it is not using all its energy to deal with the pain. However, the body is smart, and it adapts to the medication. It eventually figures out the pain is still there, and it increases the pain signals so they register in the brain despite the blocked receptors. This increased pain level forces the body to take steps to protect itself, including slowing down the cognitive processing and impairing memory (hello BrainFog), decreasing muscle strength (sorry, cannot lift that glass of water right now), and increasing fatigue levels (too tired to sleep or walk or eat). It feels like the illness is progressing as the body functions less and less. The cycle continues until something changes.

The easiest thing to do is increase the dosage or change to a stronger opioid. The first issues we face with that option are increased constipation and greater stress on the liver. The second problem is the adaption of the body and the likelihood of having to increase the dose again in several years. Each time we move up the ladder to a stronger medication to take on a regular basis, it leaves us with fewer pain killer options if we ever need them in an emergency. This is a long-term view, but an important one to consider if you’re facing a life of chronic pain. You may think the pain is as bad as it can be, but if you’re not passed out from pain, it can always get worse. (Again, sorry about that bubble bursting.)

The final problem is the delicate balance of finding the right dose of the right medications that provide the body with the highest level of functionality. Muscle relaxers work great at numbing my pain, but they leave me stranded on the couch unable to participate in life. I save those for when I’m in a flare and cannot do anything but watch television and rest, and even then I use them sparingly because their effects sometimes linger for a day afterwards. When we increase our dose, we have to watch carefully for the tipping point. At the correct dosage, Norco allows me to live an alert well-adjusted relatively normal, albeit modified, life. (For example, my days are much shorter than the average person, but if I meet a stranger they have no idea I live with chronic pain.) If I take something stronger or more pills then I need, I feel drugged and slow like when I take muscle relaxers – basically I lose functionality instead of improving it.

This is what doctors and government officials hate about long-term opioid use…they cannot standardize dosage and one pill does not work the same for everyone. They must rely on patients to honestly assess the effect of the medication and trust the patient to tell them what the correct dosage is for them. They also may need to try a variety of medications to find the right one. Add to this the risk of addiction in some individuals and we have doctors who are terrified to treat their patients. So keeping my medication and dose the same benefits not only me, but it also helps calm the doctors I encounter. (Yes, I’ll talk more about the addiction issue soon, as that is an important hot button topic.)

The other way to overcome the tolerance issue is to reset the body’s pain receptors. Again, this is just my theory and experience without any scientific backing. This resetting is what I call a Drug Holiday. Just like it sounds, I take a holiday from all the pain medications I take. This was my third time embarking on a drug holiday.

But wait…ALL of them, not just the Norco?

Yes. In order to reset the pain receptors, we have to let the body feel the levels of pain it experiences without the modifications provided by drugs. The really hard part is it can take a couple of weeks for the body to clear out the residual left by long term us of medications. Hence the importance of the Holiday part – when we do this, we need to take a break from our daily life. I am very fortunate to have the freedom to do this. I realize not everyone can settle into the couch for a month without losing everything they have.

I began with a rapid reduction in the amount of Norco I take, which is a tricky step. Because the body adapts to the medication, if we go off of opioids too quickly the body experiences withdrawal effects such as vomiting, sweating, and in extreme cases seizure. (Again this why you need to talk to your doctor!) During this phase, we have to pay close attention to the body to see how fast we can reduce the medication. For me, I was able to drop down to a half pill every other day after 10 days, and by day 14 I was off of the Norco completely. In order to deal with the pain, I took Tylenol during these two weeks, as well as relying on my non-drug remedies. (Keep in mind not all medications can be cut in half safely – talk to your pharmacist first.)

At this point, it was time to stop the Tylenol and my anti-inflammatory medications and herbs. I continued with my nutritional supplements (Juice Plus and vitamins) and added an herbal blend designed to detoxify the liver.

During the month, I limited my activities and embraced Netflix. I also got a new full back heating pad, took lots of baths, stretched as often as possible, spent extra hours in meditation (laying down at times) and saw my Acupuncturist and my massage therapist. The entire process was physically and mentally exhausting, and I was thankful I did not have to teach a meditation class. Most days I did not go outside even to get the mail.

By the second week, I began to adapt to my new normal. When I had to go to the store, I observed how impaired my driving was from pain and resolved to be extra cautious. The one other day I had to drive I planned lunch with a friend at the half way point so I would have a rest break before heading home.

I accepted that I could not always stand up on the first try. I gave myself a break from the inner complaints of pain by watching comedies and HGTV because I could not follow complicated story lines. I felt a sense of great accomplishment on the nights I cooked dinner for my husband – putting pizza in the oven counts, right? Basically, I let myself veg-out and fully accepted in that moment, this was my life. In the back of my mind, I remembered how this was my life for a very long time, before I found my doctor and she experimented with me to find the right dosages of the right medications. I felt the fear of that reality before meeting my doctor and accepted that too. I tried to sit at my computer, but lost all concentration after only a few minutes. I relied on my smart phone to distract myself with Facebook. I ignored most of my emails. It began to sink in that this could be my life permanently if I’m ever denied medication because it’s a potentially addictive opioid. I thought about how radically my life would change and all I would have to give up. I had to sit with that idea quite a while before I could finally accept it.

Today I’m taking Norco again, and my body is more alert, stronger, and functioning at a higher level than before the Drug Holiday. I am grateful my month of self-imposed torture worked! There is still pain and limits to my functionality; however I’m able to do more than lie on the couch. I’ve been increasing both the dose and my activity levels slowly over the past two weeks, seeking that hard to describe level of balance. Finding the balance between medicating pain and pacing activity is my responsibility as a patient who uses opioids, and I fully acknowledge and respect the importance of doing it. I wish more doctors were trained to educated patients on this point.

Teaching patients to be responsible, not through fear, but through an understanding of what medications can and cannot do, is the best way to reduce the risk of addiction. Opioids reduce physical pain, but they do not eliminate it entirely. Used correctly, they improve functionality. When used improperly, they impair functionality.

Every body is different, so there is no standard dose, and not all medications work for everyone. We as patients have to take on the responsibility of closely and honestly examining what medications (not just opioids, but all medications) do to us in terms of functionality and quality of life, and doctors have to trust what we tell them.

Addiction is a terrible disease, for both those who are addicts and for those who love them. We must provide easy access to treatment for those affected, and support for their loved ones. Addiction is a complicated issue, and the substance an addict uses to feed their addiction is rarely, if ever, the real root cause. To manage and eventually end the disease of addiction, we must be willing to look deeper into the reasons people feel the uncontrollable need to escape from their lives.

Death caused by the misuse of opioids is a real problem, and it is one we must take a holistic view of in order to prevent. We must be willing to talk about opioids openly, without stigma. We must accept there are kids who are seeking ways to alter their mind through drugs and offer them education. We must accept there are people who like the dissociated feeling of being over-medicated and drugged that allows them to escape from feeling their emotions, and offer treatment programs designed to help them find their way back to participating fully in life. And we must accept there are over 100 million people like me living with chronic pain, many of whom use opioids responsibly in order to function.


If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact your health insurance about covered treatment options. Virtual and in person support groups can also be found by searching online.


To help prevent medications from getting into the wrong hands, bring your unwanted medications to any police station in San Diego County for proper disposal. (Check with your local county for similar programs in your area.)


Please help protect our right to pain medication by contacting your government representatives in the House and Senate, as well as your local government officials. Let them know there are better ways to fight addiction than making life even more difficult for chronic pain patients.


In the past several years, a quiet war against opioids has been raging. I don’t know who is behind it or why. The media seems to be focused on addiction issues, but it appears that chronic pain patients are bearing the brunt of the attacks spearheaded by the DEA and CDC. Here’s a list of some changes you may not be aware of:

Norco and other medications like the codeine cough syrup you may have been prescribed the last time you saw the doctor for a severe cough were changed from a Schedule 3 drug to a Schedule 2, which is the highest level of restriction. (Schedule 1 is for drugs with no medical use.)

  • Schedule 2 means only paper prescriptions are accepted by the pharmacy, whereas before a doctor could call the pharmacy or send the prescription electronically.
  • Refills are no longer allowed, which requires a trip to the doctor’s office each month for a new paper prescription.
  • Pharmacies must wait a full 30 days in between filling prescriptions, even if the doctor writes a new prescription before that time frame.
  • Some doctors have opted to simply not write these types of prescriptions because of the extra recorded keeping and reporting involved.

The DEA has also put pressure on health insurers to increase the tier of opioids; instead of being a tier 1 generic drug at the lowest cost, Norco is now a tier 2 (brand name level) drug, even though it is a generic medication that has been used since 1943. Some plans have made it an even higher tier. The higher the tier means a higher cost and financial burden for the patient, many of whom live on a fixed income from disability.

The DEA has also succeeded in pressuring health insurers to implement quantity limits, taking away a doctor’s right to determine the appropriate dosage for their patients.

Some lawmakers are now pushing to implement a prior authorization requirement for some opioids. If you’ve ever had to wait for prior authorization to get your medication, you know this is a bad idea. Take a moment to imagine being in agonizing severe pain. You’ve made it to the doctor and they prescribed pain medication. You get to the pharmacy and they tell you they need prior authorization. This means the pharmacy must call your doctor, who then must call your insurance company. Once the insurance company has processed the request, they inform the pharmacy. How long do think all of this will take? How much unnecessary pain will patients have to endure while they wait for this process to play out? With a new prescription required every month and no early refills, now imagine having to deal with this every single month.


Thank you for reading this very long blog entry. You may not be directly impacted by chronic pain or this absurd war on opioids; however it does affect you and your right to pain medication should you ever require it. Please take action now by contacting your government representatives to ask them to protect our access to pain medication. Please also share this blog to help raise #OpioidAwareness.



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Meeting the Master – An Excerpt from Worlds of Power, Worlds of Light

On Friday night, I discovered the Mark Hopkins is one of San Francisco’s most glorious hotels. It sits on top of Nob Hill, rising above the city lights like a castle. The 19th century architecture, with the intricate carvings on the archways, appeared like an entrance to a fairy tale land. The grand doorway towered above me; never before had I been invited to a place so magnificent.

As Katey and I turned the corner into the banquet hall, my self-confidence dropped at the sight of hundreds of elegantly dressed people. None of the weddings or other dinner parties I had attended had ever been this fancy. My long flowered skirt and cheap blazer stood out in the crowd, but I was too confused to feel embarrassed. I couldn’t understand why a bunch of rich business people were attending a lecture on meditation. The overwhelming wealth of the hotel made me suspicious. I kept asking myself weren’t spiritual people supposed to use their money to help the poor, not on fancy dinners? Tara’s black ball gown seemed like a bit much even for this banquet room, but she was paying for my dinner, so what could I say?

Katey started off to meet the others, so I followed, listening to snatches of the conversations. I had expected to hear a roomful of miserable people looking for the answers to all of life’s problems. Instead, the business people in this room were discussing one exciting project or another, smiling as if they had touched ecstasy.

Katey and I met the other students from Tara’s class, and we sat down together at a table in the back of the room. I was disappointed that we were so far from the stage. I wanted to get a good look at Rama, since everyone was so excited to see him but refused to tell me anything about him when I asked. While eating dinner, we chatted about the weather and the classes some of us were taking at college. I couldn’t help noticing the tension in the room; it was like waiting for a bomb to go off.

The waiters were clearing the dessert dishes when Rama strolled in, with a briefcase in one hand and a long leather coat draped over the other. Although Tara had not mentioned what he looked like, I had expected an elderly Japanese man wearing an ocher robe. Instead Rama turned out to be a middle-aged Caucasian man, just over six feet tall, with blond curly hair and dressed in an Armani suit. As he stepped onto the platform stage set up at the far end of the banquet hall, everyone turned their chairs to face him. When I turned towards him, there was a clear aisle from my chair straight to center stage.

I watched Rama closely as he crossed his legs into the lotus position. A grace and ease accompanied his motions, as if he had performed this ritual thousands of times. My gaze kept returning to his eyes. I was positive I had never seen him before, but there was something about him that was strangely familiar.

“Tonight I’d like to talk with you about reincarnation,” said Rama, as a mischievous grin crossed his face, reminding me of the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland. “The good news is we live forever. And the bad news is, we live forever.” Rama looked around at the smiles in the audience, and began again with a more serious tone.

“Life is the joining of the infinite and the finite. The eternal part of us appears in the physical world, has experiences, and then the physical part falls away when we die. While in the body, the spirit plays out its karma. That is, it continues to follow the patterns of its previous lives, changing and growing until the body dies.

“At death, the material world falls away and the spirit takes a break. The spirit takes with it the awareness it has gained during the life experience. Whatever we become conscious of becomes embedded into our nature, and those skills carry from life to life.”

I relaxed in my chair, forgetting about my appearance for the first time that evening. I took a sip of my coffee as I concentrated on his words.

“For example, if you studied karate in a past life, you would probably be drawn to study it in this life. In the beginning, you would have to relearn the basics. Once you had the basics down, you would tap into your past life knowledge and you would progress much faster than someone who was new to the study of karate.

“The same is true in the study of self-discovery,” he continued, closing his eyes as his melodious voice spread through the room. “When you increase your awareness through meditation, or expand your consciousness through self-discovery, that knowledge travels with you from life to life. Karma propels us to continue with the actions we began in the previous moments. So most of you here have studied meditation in previous lives. By picking up the study again in this life, you can very quickly get back to where you left off and start exploring new areas.

“The process of reincarnation is very similar to going to school,” explained Rama, glancing around the banquet hall. “Someone in eighth grade is not any better than someone in third grade. It just means the student in eighth grade has had more experiences and hopefully knows more. In time, the third-grader will be in eighth grade. And also like school, there is a summer vacation, when the body dies and the spirit takes a break until it is born again.

“When you meditate, you may begin to remember your past lives. This generally happens to people in their twenties, but sometimes people are younger or older. It really depends on how open and aware you are. However, remembering the particulars of who you were or what you did in a previous life really isn’t very important.

“Buddhists use these recollections as a way to learn how to live better today. You can’t change the past; it doesn’t exist anymore. So it’s important not to get hung up on remembering your past lives. If you see stuff when you meditate, it’s best just to ignore it. Don’t let anything distract you from silencing your mind and seeking light.”

Rama pulled out a pair of sunglasses from his jacket and asked us to sit up straight so we could meditate. He put on a CD by Zazen, a band he had created with some of his students, and asked everyone to focus on him.

I gazed at him with half-closed eyes, letting the music fill my ears. The people in the room disappeared, and I could feel Rama’s energy inside my mind as if he was behind my forehead, in my third eye. At first, I tried to shut him out because I was afraid. I didn’t really like the idea of someone in my head, even if he was a respected spiritual teacher. Rama was persistent but not intrusive; instead he became like a vapor and slipped in through the cracks. I could feel him communicating with me telepathically. There were no words, only a soothing feeling, letting me know I was not in any danger. His energy, soft and delicate like a rose petal, shone before me like a rainbow. I knew this feeling of meditation with him, and felt a deeper love for this being, this essence, than I had ever felt for anything else in life.

We bowed after the meditation, and when I looked up, directly at Rama, he smiled back at me. From across the room his eyes sparkled like diamonds as they met mine, and I knew I would see him again as my teacher.


If you enjoyed this excerpt, you can read more about my adventures with Rama and the study of meditation in my book, Worlds of Power, Worlds of Light.


White Crane

A few nights ago, I woke from a dream, which played out before me like a movie:

A white crane fluttered around a city street. Nearby, deeply concerned people were looking for the crane. The bird had once been human, and the people desperately wanted to break the spell before the crane forgot about life as a human.

The crane flew around a building and landed in a tree at the edge of a park. The tree was filled with thirty other white cranes. The cranes all sat still, silently. Suddenly all the cranes flapped their wings and turned to face the opposite direction, except the one crane who had been a human. The people searching for the crane came around the corner and saw the flock of birds.crane-60865_640

The scene zoomed into the single crane. The crane thought, “I wonder what the birds are looking at? Should I turn around too?” The crane looked down at the people and thought, “These humans are here looking for me.”

As the crane in the tree sat suspended between life as a crane and life as a human, the crane knew they were both a dream.



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My work is entirely funded by my readers – by you. If you like what you have read, if you find insight or inspiration in these words, please visit my Support page to learn how you can help keep the work going with a one-time gift, or as an ongoing Patron.




Four Buddhist Truths Learned from Chronic Pain

1. Everything is Transient

During my last pain flare, for over a week I lived with the feeling of two nails shoved in my eyes, causing an intense headache. It would be easy to say the pain was constant since it bothered me enough to interrupt my activity several times a day. However, if I remain fully present with my body during these times, I notice how the pain waxes and wanes, even during a full body pain flare.

I’ve found this to be true of all the types of pain and fatigue I experience. As I expand my awareness out from the body, I see the truth of impermanence in all aspects of life.


2. Suffering is caused by Attachment

When the pain forces my body to shut down and all I can do is lie on the couch, I watch my mind as it grapples with the situation. If I remain attached to getting up and being active, there is great suffering when the body refuses to cooperate. If I let go of the attachment and instead observe what is, there is pain and discomfort but no suffering. It is as if a large weight is removed and I can simply be with the pain as it changes form with every breath.

I watch how at times we all cling to ideas of how we think it should be – whatever the situation – and how this attachment blinds and separates us from what really is here now.


3. There is Always a Way Out

Intractable pain feels like being a tiny cage with no escape. It can overwhelm the attention to the point where there’s no other point of focus. At level 10 on the pain scale, the body collapses and the mind shuts down – the way out is the autonomic response beyond our conscious control. At any level below 10, we can find the way out by focusing our mind.

Once we realize this, we have many choices:
– increase our suffering by focusing on our attachment,
– escape through the power of imagination,
– distraction either physically by introducing different sensations or mentally through visual or auditory stimulation,
– or conscious observation of the qualities of pain through the lens of detachment.

Sensorial distraction may include a tens unit, massage, petting an animal, listening to music, or watching a movie. Conscious observation with detachment may include reminding ourselves I am not this fragile body and all of this is merely sensations passing through my awareness field. Throughout the years, I have applied all of these methods to find my way out of the tiny cage.

In my dealings with others, and in my own pre-pain personal experience, I’ve seen how we find ourselves feeling trapped by a situation over which we have no direct control, yet there is always a way out of that feeling of helplessness by taking control the one place we always can: the focus of the mind.


4. Meditation Makes Finding the Way Out Easier

Practicing meditation makes the mind stronger, and thus allows us to gain control of our focus in the most trying of circumstances. I could write paragraph after paragraph with examples of how myself and others have benefited from meditation and share many studies revealing the power of meditation, but this is the one Truth you’ll have to prove for yourself.




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