For the past five days, I have been dealing with a severe bout of hemorrhoids, something the likes I've never had before. I wrote Jundo, mentioning that I was unable to sit, and explained why; I told him I've been trying lying-down meditation instead.

He replied:


Ah, I see (really. I mean, between my desk bound work and the Zafu, I really, really see!) Well, around here, you should know exactly what to do in that case: When having hemorrhoids, just have hemarrhoids. Just sit, recline or stand on your head with your hemorrhoids. When they are a pain in the butt, let them be a pain in the butt. Be one with your hemorroids. Observe the annoyance. The experience is just what it is, nothing to take away from it or add to it .... even as you apply the Preparation H. Just be mindful as you apply the Preparation H.

And if you think I am trying to make a joke about the hole thing, I certainly am not. I am serious. One of the best times to practice is when you have some health issue come up. So, please just sit with it, stand with it or whatever.


So this evening, lying down and trying to meditate, I realized something (ok, I wasn't letting body and mind drop away, but thinking): for five days, I've been doing everything possible to avoid the pain, to distract myself from the pain, rather than trying to be with it. I have observed the pain, but mostly to try and get it out of my mind. This is normal, of course, because it hurts. But if I try to be with the pain, to experience its angles, its power, its intensity and the reactions it insights, the pain becomes different. I've tried this before - I have a neurological condition that gives me chronic pain, and, even though medication helps, it doesn't help all the time. I try, when in pain, to be with the pain and go through it; it works sometimes, but most times it doesn't.

But what really came to me this evening was the awareness of how we (or at least I) do the same thing about all kinds of pain. Not just the physical, but the mental. We try and distract ourselves so we don't have to face it, to feel it, and we construct ideas and realities to wall ourselves off from it, rather than be one with it. Sure, I'm not breaking any new ground; all the Buddhists talk about this stuff, but realizing it personally, concretely, is interesting and enlightening (in a minor way, of course).

Anyone who has a chronic illness, especially if it involves pain, probably knows how you can become that illness, or at least become intensely involved with it. It can take control of you, because it is so present, so invasive. Perhaps we all have chronic illness - the one called life - and we are controlled by that illness to the point that we can't see outside of it. Perhaps a little pain can help, can be a prod that will make us see this reality just a bit differently.