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Learning from Difficulties October 18, 2012

Posted by Living Abundance in Uncategorized.
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October 6th, 2012

I write this post by hand today but I have no idea when it will be posted online. A setback I am currently dealing with is severe eye strain, brought on by excessive use of a computer screen, and have decided to forego any online blogging until it has been resolved.

This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced eye strain, but this is the absolute worst I remember having it. I have tried all of the recommended solutions but nothing seems to still allow me to use a computer screen. This is happening to me now because my new job is primarily done on computer. This setback makes my new job a mixed blessing.

My job is a blessing because it provides me with a steady income (provided I will be able to actually perform my job tasks), lets me use my training, provides me with enjoyable, satisfactory work to complete, gives me more experience in my area of expertise, and allows me some stability in knowing what my life situation will be for the next while.

My job is a curse because it causes me physical pain, and in turn I feel stress and anxiety over not being able to perform my duties. It also disrupts the lifestyle I was used to, as evidenced by my blog post written on paper as of right now.

With all of the changes I’ve been experiencing, I am reminded once again how no single aspect of my life situation can ever be completely “perfect”, with all “good” and no “bad” or at least not for long. I’m trying to stop looking for perfect. I’m trying to say, “good enough,” and be satisfied with what I have right now.

My current circumstances have provided me with some learning opportunities. First, I have been able to notice how the mind runs off into the future at breakneck speed to create disastrous scenarios. In doing so, a bad situation becomes absolutely awful.

Example: Right now my eyes are hurting. Recalling my past experiences, I conclude that my current state has gotten progressively worse over time. Travelling into the future, this can only mean that my eyes will only get progressively worse, and the situation will not resolve itself, the problem will not go away. I will never be able to use a computer again. Since my job requires computer work, I’ll have to quit my job. My career is over. I’ll have no money, I’ll have to move. I’ll have to find a new job. I’m no disabled, homeless, unemployed, and unable to use my career training.

As Thay would say, “Are you sure?”

Yes this is what I’ve had to endure these past few weeks. Not that I want to endure it, I don’t consciously choose to be filled with anxiety and dread. But the mind goes off on its habitual paths, and I don’t have the skill to stop assisting in the process. So, to paraphrase Karen Maezen Miller, its hard to find any suffering these days that isn’t self inflicted, that isn’t caused by my own actions and beliefs and views of the world. In sum, the first lesson is how staying in the present with what is happening makes a situation much more bearable.

My second opportunity for learning is how mental stress and tension manifests in the body.

Example: I am at work looking at a screen. My eyes might not be hurting right now but I have the expectation that eventually they will, its only a matter of time. I view this future possibility as bad and it needs to be avoided. There is tension between what I am doing and what I want to happen. I create mental tension by trying to speed up what I am doing to still get work done but avoid potential pain. When I stop to take a break, I suddenly become aware of my body. My leg muscles are tense, my face is in a scowl, I`m barely breathing, and my shoulders are tensed high up toward my ears. I try to relax my body but when return to working the physical tension returns, and accumulates throughout the day. I go home in tight, constricted knots that won`t worsen at will.

I`ve also noticed that the physical tension can be created by and built up in one situation and be carried into another situation later. I’ve also found that being in a sstate of physical tension can leave the mind tense, nervous and anxious, even though there is no reason for the mind to be so at that particular moment. I’m seeing how clearly mind and body are linked.

I’ve also noticed how tension and stress as well as emotional pain gets stored in the body. Parts of my body release in emotional pain during practice when I try to relax my body in places where I never would have guessed emotional pain was being stored. When I release physical tension with relaxation and stretching specific muscles or the whole body, emotions, along with their respective thoughts, come flooding out: Hurt (“Someone’s trying to hurt me”, “I can’t take this”), anger (“I’m so sick of this”, “I shouldn’t have to deal with this”), frustration (“I’ve had enough”), despair (“I give up”, “I’m so tired”).

I’m reminded that difficult circumstances are an opportunity to develop patience. I need to just wait and see what happens and how this will resolve itself. Ultimately, I know it will be resolved in some form. Either my eyes will get better and I can return to work at some eventual point in the future, or I will leave the situation and quit out of an inability to endure the physical pain.

At lighter moments, I can also appreciate the fact that this is the biggest challenge in my life right now. This is an appreciation that is almost always helpful for me when it happens. I have enough perspective to know that other people are much more worse off than me, and that many other things could be going “wrong.”

As I close, I hope this post will one day be published as a confirmation that my eyes have gotten better enough to post it online.

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