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Thread: Will All The Cripples Please Stand Up?

  1. #1

    Will All The Cripples Please Stand Up?

    I am recovering from a serious accident (several of them, actually_) and my practice os going fairly well until it comes to PAIN. I have several periods every day when I would be suicidal, if I didn't know that it would eventually pass if I could only hold on. During that time I can't even breathe straight. I'm trying to just focus on my breath, and repeat "Do you see this as your PRACTICE?" but it's not working well at all.

    If anybody else has problems with pain, I'd appreciate some tips. And refs to books or thread, sites that might help?

    I know that I have to accept it, and just be with it........BUT I AM SERIOUSLY NOT LIKING THIS!

    :: rant off

    Gassho,
    Fugu

  2. #2
    I'm. Sorry you are experiencing such pain. Has your doctor prescribed any drugs to alleviate it?

  3. #3
    Treeleaf Engineer Seimyo's Avatar
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    Hi Fugu,
    Sounds like you might need to talk with some folks in the pain management business. While Zazen can help one deal with pain there is a point where you really need other help. If the pain is so severe you contemplate suicide, it makes talking to your physicians that much more urgent.

    Take care of yourself and please get some help with the pain.

    Gassho.
    Seimyo

    明 Seimyō (Christhatischris)

  4. #4
    Fugu, sorry to hear that you are experiencing so much pain. I think the other posts are good and hope your doctor is helping you with pain management. However, on the Zen front a wonderful Zen teacher, Darlene Cohen, suffered for much of her life from rheumatoid arthritis, she also dealt very gracefully with cancer prior to her death.

    Darlene ran pain management workshops at hospitals and incorporated her insights from dealing with pain into her Dharma activity as well. She published a book which is available on Amazon.com. The title is Turning Suffering Inside Out. I haven't read the book but Darelene was one of my Teacher's teacher and I did attend a retreat with her. She was a very kind, genuine and inspiring in person.

  5. #5
    Hellos to All those in Pain, Chronic and Acute,
    to all those who are well acquainted with pain, and especially to those who have not experienced much of it---yet....

    Fugu,
    It always has amazed me that in a few seconds of time, so much can change so drastically.
    You survived your accidents. This is first and foremost, profound.

    Sounds True published a book with CD; Break through Pain by Shinzen Young, who trained in Vajrayana, Zen, and Vipassana. His website: www.shinzen.org

    Practice is always very practical: work with what you have. So many choices! practice can be a spouse, children, a co-worker, cooking, flossing teeth, and certainly pain.

    I am sure there will be many suggestions which come your way, and I won't go into detail about Shinzen's approach to pain here--I will leave that investigation to you and to those who are exploring approaches to pain.
    If memory serves me, I believe it was Shinzen who said that pain does not have to be suffering, and that suffering is pain x (multiplied) by resistance.

    Working with pain is a very worthy practice. Please keep your mind soft, pliable, and open.

    I just noticed another book he wrote entitled Pain Relief.

    There are many ways to approach pain.

    I wish you the best, and hope your recovery is a speedy one.

    with palms joined,
    K

    And yes, Darlene Cohen has a book(s) out there, too. Shinzen also gives classes and workshops. Good Luck!
    Last edited by Keishin; 07-03-2013 at 01:11 AM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    So sorry you are going through this. I have pain in my hips and back daily. I have learned that the only way to get rid of it, is to do yoga every day. If I miss one day, I am in pain again, until I do yoga.

    I hope your recovery is speedy, again, I am so sorry you are going through this.

    Gassho,
    Emmy

  7. #7
    After a time in uni, a combination of my computer degree path, my hobbies, and the increasing amount of computer-using assignments in all classes led to RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) in somewhat both, but mostly one arm/hand.

    I remember getting very scared and upset at times. It was hard to see what appeared to be a perfectly fine arm but feel the way it did. Not just the pain, but it didn't feel like it used to. It had a foreign feel when I used it, like it had been swapped with someone else's. It was rather frustrating. The thoughts would cross my mind that I might never be able to use a computer again as I used to, and that really pained me inside, as coding was like my craft.

    It was a story in a music course I was taking that changed my mindset to get through it, I think. One day, the professor spoke of a Robert Schumann of the 1800s. He was working to be a great piano player but ended up wrecking the muscles in one of his pinkies. He did all he could to fix it to no avail, so he couldn't be that great pianist. Instead, he would go purely into composition, writing for piano and eventually larger works like symphonies. This relateable story really changed my perspective. I just needed to take things day by day. Maybe there was a chance I couldn't do what I originally wanted, but I'd find something else instead. I'd figure something out. In the least, it'd all be alright somehow.

    Eventually, after some of my more supportive friends expressed their interest and curiosity, I began teaching them what I knew. Mostly, some HTML (web pages) and some programming. I didn't know I'd enjoy putting my little lessons together so much, digging through all my textbooks and memories that taught me well and presenting it to them. As my arm has gotten much better, I've realized that teaching coding to others has become one of the things I'd like to do, at least some way.

    I think a useful tool I've used along the way is Super Better. It's a website with a game-like setup, where you turn getting better (from a condition or just improving your health) into a hero's quest for yourself. I've found it really motivational, and I like that you can set it up any way you want to best help you. It really seemed to put a positive spin on things and let me work in small steps.

    I wish you all the best, Fugu, and also to the others who have spoken (and those who have not) of their pain here.


    Gassho, Stacy
    Last edited by Stacy; 07-03-2013 at 06:08 AM.

  8. #8
    Hi Fugu

    Sorry you are in such pain. It sucks. I deal with pain of various degrees on a daily basis. I second Darlene Cohen's book and also Living Well With Pain and Illness by Vidyamala who herself suffered from a painful spinal injury. Vidyamala is not a Zen Buddhist but has some good advice to offer.

    When the level of pain does not exceed your capacity to sit with it, it's not too bad. Breathing with that is usually fine. If it goes beyond just breathing with it a mantra can help to keep the brain occupied or a (non-Zen) practice like taking and sending (tonglen). Beyond that, use appropriate doctor prescribed painkillers and let your body heal. Putting your attention into the pain can sometimes work to see that it is not as solid as it feels and rather pulsing or coming in waves which help to be with it. As I'm sure you know we tend to tighten muscles around pain as a defence mechanism so progressive relaxation of the body can often reduce pain levels. Metta practice to yourself too and audio meditations as when in pain it can be hard to keep focussed.

    Pain is practice but it is hard practice. I have been dealing with it for 17 years now and still struggle. The fight or flight parts of the brain tend to kick off in panic when we are in severe pain and that adds to the physical sensations we are going through. Anyone who thinks that practicing with pain is easy almost certainly hasn't experienced chronic pain of any significant degree or else is some kind of Jedi.

    Much metta and strength to you friend. If it is okay can I include you in my practice dedication?

    Deep bows
    Andy

  9. #9
    Hi Fugu,

    I am sorry you have to endure so much...
    Lots of great advice has already been given, and here is my non-Zen advice:
    You should give self-hypnosis a try. Anyone can learn it - some are naturals and know how to do it right away, while others need a few weeks.
    It is unbelievable what you can achieve with this, and there is nothing "magical" about it. In order to learn it you have to master some relaxation techniques that are already useful in themselves (e.g. the above mentioned progressive muscle relaxation).

    However, a serious word of caution: this is not a substitute for seeing a doctor.
    You should not try to get rid of the cause of the pain by using SH - you should use it primarily to alleviate pain when it becomes unbearable.
    If you need more information, just let me know.

    Gassho,

    Timo
    no thing needs to be added

  10. #10
    Hi.

    Sry to be a bit late into the thread, i did a talk around the pain of life which you might have seen.
    Other than that, and what advice you are otherwise given, it might not be much, and it sounds silly, but i find that smiling helps with the pain.
    Always keep an smile on, and yes it's not always easy, but hang in there.

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen
    Treeleaf Unsui
    Blog: http://fugenblog.blogspot.com/

  11. #11
    I too am a little late and I have no answers accept to offer you my sympathy and empathy. I seriously damaged both legs in a climbing accident and spent a lot of time in pain and still suffer from ruptured ligaments and pins in the ankle. I can only echo what has been said by Andy pain is hard practice but I found if you treat it like an honoured guest who is severe but company worth cultivating it helps.

    Gassho

    David

  12. #12
    Treeleaf Unsui Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Hi Fugu,
    I know of many people that have come to meditation through the experience of physical pain. Mindfulness practice has been used to treat chronic pain and lots of work has been done in Massachusetts in this area (see the book Full Catastrophe Living). Here our Zazen is not a cure for anything. It is not a pain management methodology. It is total acceptance and the total experiencing of reality, with judgements set aside. That is pretty profound and may, incidentally, help you.

    However, if you want to practice meditation with the specific purpose of helping with chronic pain, you might want to look elsewhere, where practice is tailored to that end (like the book I mentioned above).

    My heart goes out to you. I have seen dear ones in your situation, and imagine what it might be like for you.

    I am in training,as you know. Maybe a chat with one of our teachers might help?

    Deep bows. Hang in there. As this flows to you, so it will ebb and flow and flow away. Be well.
    Myozan
    Myozan Kodo
    Ordained Soto Zen Priest in Training
    Dublin, Ireland

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.
    "Here the way unfolds."

  13. #13
    Many thanks to all your responses. I will look into the reccomendations. Re Pain Management: that is no longer an option. I was over-medicated by too many different doctors and spent nearly 5 years in a hospital and nursing home, curled up in a fetal position. Boy,was that a pit to climb out of!

    I do yoga every night, too. It's about the only thing that keeps me sane (along with feeding all the dogs in the neighborhood with biscuits from my bulging pockets as I walk......). I would be very interested in learning more about the self-hypnosis: can anybody reccommend a good book, or video on You-tube?

    Many gasshos to you all,
    Fugu

  14. #14
    Hi Fugu,

    Quote Originally Posted by Fugu View Post
    I would be very interested in learning more about the self-hypnosis: can anybody reccommend a good book, or video on You-tube?
    Better not try YouTube...
    However, I really can recommend you an excellent book. In fact, l learnt doing self-hypnosis from the following book:
    Self-Hypnosis: The Complete Manual for Health and Self-Change by Dr. Brian M. Alman and Dr. Peter Lambrou
    I know, the price is quite steep, but it is worth every cent. Perhaps you can get a used edition?


    Some advice and comments:
    - This is very different to zazen or meditation.
    - I would not recommend doing this in the evening - when you make some progress this is a very effective relaxation technique (IMHO the best), but the disadvantage of that is that it can make you sleepy. During several sessions I just fell asleep...
    - Don't believe the nonsense you still read on the internet. You are always in control and never lose it at any time. You can stop a hypnosis session any time. And no, it is not possible to be forever in a trance. There is still lots of prejudice and cliche thinking out there...
    - Don't force anything. The more you want to get in a trancy state, the harder it is. Perhaps you are lucky and get the hang of it right away, or perhaps you'll need a few weeks. Just give it enough time and don't feel frustrated. Approach it like an experiment.
    - Probably the most important thing: relax, relax, and ... relax. This is the prerequisite, but you'll learn relaxation techniques in the above mentioned book anyway.
    - Don't expect anything, just give it a try and some time. When I began I was so sceptical, but then I was (positively) surprised.

    If you need more information, you can also send me a PM.

    Gassho,

    Timo


    PS: Just wanted to add that I don't want to give you false hopes. It worked for me in lots of areas and I can imagine it might help in your case as well. At least that's what I hope.
    Last edited by Daitetsu; 07-04-2013 at 11:17 PM.
    no thing needs to be added

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Myozan Kodo View Post
    Hi Fugu,
    I know of many people that have come to meditation through the experience of physical pain. Mindfulness practice has been used to treat chronic pain and lots of work has been done in Massachusetts in this area (see the book Full Catastrophe Living). Here our Zazen is not a cure for anything. It is not a pain management methodology. It is total acceptance and the total experiencing of reality, with judgements set aside. That is pretty profound and may, incidentally, help you.

    However, if you want to practice meditation with the specific purpose of helping with chronic pain, you might want to look elsewhere, where practice is tailored to that end (like the book I mentioned above).

    My heart goes out to you. I have seen dear ones in your situation, and imagine what it might be like for you.

    I am in training,as you know. Maybe a chat with one of our teachers might help?

    Deep bows. Hang in there. As this flows to you, so it will ebb and flow and flow away. Be well.
    Myozan
    Thank you Myozan for pointing this out, and thank you to everyone else offering helpful advice.

    Yes, I am afraid that Zazen is not a form of pain management, but it is a total cure for existential "suffering" ("Dukkha" in Buddha-lingo). What is the difference? Well, pain is the physical sensation you feel. However, "suffering" is the self's psychological reaction to the pain which consists of such judgments as "I hate having this pain" "my life stinks" "I wish things were some other way" "this is not a good way to be" etc. etc. Pain is condition "Y", your “self” wishes this world to be X, yet this world is not X and is Y instead. The mental state that may result to the “self” from this disparity is Dukkha. I sometimes write ...

    Shakyamuni Buddha gave many examples: sickness (when we do not wish to be sick), old age (when we long for youth), death (if we cling to life), loss of a loved one (as we cannot let go), violated expectations, the failure of happy moments to last (though we wish them to last). Even joyous moments — such as happiness and good news, treasure or pleasant times — can be a source of suffering if we cling to them, if we are attached to those things.

    In ancient stories, Dukkha is often compared to a chariot’s or potter’s wheel that will not turn smoothly as it revolves. The opposite, Sukkha, is a wheel that spins smoothly and noiselessly, without resistance as it goes.

    Fortunately, Shakyamuni Buddha also provided the Dukkha cure.
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...y-Dooby-Dukkha
    Now, I am not saying to just be stoic and "grin and bear" the pain. Sometimes you may need to do so if truly a condition one cannot fix. Then, there is no choice but to fully accept the situation. However, if possible, one can also seek a doctor, a pain management specialist, a hypnotist, various forms of meditation based on directing the mind away from the pain (several have been recommended in this thread and the books mentioned). I sometimes say ...

    Zazen is -NOT- a cure for many things ... it will not fix a bad tooth (just allow you to be present with the toothache ... you had better see a dentist, not a Zen teacher), cure cancer (although it may have some healthful effects and make one more attune to the process of chemotherapy and/or dying), etc. Zen practice will not cure your acne on your face, or fix your flat tire. All it will do is let one "be at one, and whole" ... TRULY ONE ... with one's pimples and punctured wheel, accepting and embracing of each, WHOLLY WHOLE with/as each one.
    What can actually happen is a kind of "acceptance-non-acceptance" all at once. On one level, we do not like it ... seek to fix it. Sure! On the other level, we total embrace and allow the condition, curing the "Dukkha". It is the difference between having pain and concluding "life stinks", and having pain and concluding "well, life still stinks sometimes and I am not always content, but somehow all is also OK, and I am totally Content (Big "C") both with times I am content (small "c") and times I don't feel so content.

    I hope that Zazen is one step on your dealing with your pain. I know that it will let you be "at home" in your life, even if not completely the home you might wish.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-05-2013 at 12:57 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  16. #16
    Many thanks for all the comments. I have ordered the suggested books (even the self-hypnosis one) and signed up on SuperBetter. I am not looking to zazen to be 'pain management'....I have always had a practice of sorts from early childhood. This new physical pain is just another block in the dukkha building.

    Again, many thanks.

    Gassho,
    Fugu

  17. #17
    Senior Member ZenHarmony's Avatar
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    Hi, Fugu

    Like Emmy, I have pain in my hips, pelvis and back 24/7, and had pain when sitting, until I discovered I needed to untuck my tailbone. That one act alone has knocked the daily pain back down to a manageable level for the most part, as well as making sitting zazen enjoyable rather than miserable.

    Gassho,

    Lisa

  18. #18
    Hi Fugu,

    I have chronic but bearable back pain on most days. I do not tolerate pain meds due to their addictive nature and the fact I am in recovery. I try to deal with my break through pain with alternating ibuprofen and tylenol as directed by my doctor and also Zazen to address "Dukka" as directed by my teachers.

    Gassho, John

  19. #19
    John,

    Thank you! That's exactly what I needed to hear. I'm in the same place. But it helps to know I'm not the only one......

    Gassho,
    Fugu

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