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Thread: Karmic kick in the butt

  1. #1

    Karmic kick in the butt

    I have recently received what I jokingly refer to as a "karmic kick in the butt", awhile back I was mugged and had pneumonia. Well I got an x-ray a couple weeks ago to see if I was on the mend and I I was told there were some abnormalities on the stomach and pre-aortic sack. So I did testing and it turns out I have stomach cancer and cancer on the pre-aortic sack. I have been processing this and getting second opinions and doing all the fun medical stuff when a week from last friday my vespa was stolen.So I kinda felt like the cosmoses kicking boy and to top it all off certain muslims and christians in my family said it was God punishing me and if I was a good buddhist why didn't Buddha protect me from my bad karma. Now their understanding of Buddhism and their own religions as well as compassion in general is shoddy it still hurt to hear them say those erroneous statements. So I have been spending my time dealing with the shock and depression that has come with these events. I first started to think about karma and realized that I first was not going to approach the situation from a karmic perspective because it has no bearing on my improving my health or getting my scooter back and also karma is all about perspective. If I was to deal with this in karmic terms I could see both the good and bad in it. If I approach the situation through buddhism and see it through the eyes of a boddhisatva cancer and dealing with the treatment will give me a chance for serious practice (reflecting on impermanence, metta, ect..) it will also give me a chance to be able empathize with others going through the treatment. Changing my perspective really allowed me to overcome my depression. Now even though I do see the positive I still have bouts of depression which is healthy and I am feeling a little of it now but I am righting this post not only to share with you my experience but also to remind myself of those positive. One the most difficult thing in dealing with this is all the complications medical bill and treatment effects, being positive but also honestly assessing the situation. I decide not to write about this on the forum until I had good handle on all four of the above complications. In regards to the treatment if anyone has any experience they want to share that helped them be it a way of thinking meditation or medication please contribute to this post it will be most appreciated. So as I stated before I have those people who were negative and on the other end of the spectrum I have those have been very sympathetic and some overly compassionate (If I didn't have scruples I could have received a new Mac). Others have been avoiding me I think because I am a walking reminder of human mortality. Now the scooter was icing on the cake. I at first wasn't honest and tried to tell myself "who cares everything's impermanent you can't take it with you".Through deep thought and meditation I realized that though I did need to let it go and not be attached to it I could still miss the scooter and I need to acknowledge my anger at the thieves and the hurt of loss before I could move on. The scooter was found this weekend but it was damaged but now I am waiting to see if it is repairable. These situations have in some way been blessings in disguise and I have grown from them. I know I have not completely come to terms with my medical problems and still have anger at the thieved and I don't know if I ever will completely be able to. What I do know is that zazen and the Buddha's teachings are integral to my positive outlook and coping mechanisms.Oh one last thing the most annoying thing is every one is asking if I am going to get my medical marijuana card and will I hook them up with free pot and since I don't smoke they get mad when I say no to them ( I find this way of thinking odd). Sorry for the long post
    Gasho
    Chris

  2. #2

    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Dear Chris,

    There are times when we must just cast out our arms, drop all resistance and let life's wind carry us where it will and wills.

    We can do so even as we see the doctors, take our meds, give it a tough fight and hope for a quick recovery. All at once as one.

    Boy, you are really where the rubber of this Way meets life's road! Man, you have had a couple of wild months, as if trying to pack all of Buddhism's mastery of lovely Wisdom and Compassion and "non-attachment" into an 8 week intensive course!!!! It could be Karma, it could be a few bad rolls of the dice. I sure don't believe for a minute God or Buddha is punishing you, but I know there is a lot to learn here about real Freedom! I feel in my heart of hearts that God and Allah and Buddha would all want you to see through the surface of these events to something that sweeps it all in, shining through these little trials.

    All things to which we cling must be allowed to go as things will, for all is impermanent. Motor bikes, money in the wallet, people we love, our own bodies, everything.

    We have several members of the Sangha who have been through some real health crises these past years. I hope that all of them will chip in here.

    We will put you on our well-being list, and be chanting and sitting with all we've got for you.

    You may not get that bike or money back, but will receive a real Treasure in turn that will take you anywhere! And as you recover your health, you will learn how to spend that Treasure very Wisely and Compassionately in this life.

    Gassho, your friend, Jundo

    PS - Let us also thank the robbers who beat you up and, thus, may have saved your life. We are all interconnected.

  3. #3
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Chris wrote;
    What I do know is that zazen and the Buddha's teachings are integral to my positive outlook and coping mechanisms.
    Wow, what strength of spirit ! Much metta to you, please know that we are pulling with you

  4. #4

    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Like all things. You can learn from it. I'm not going to talk about tolerance because I'm probably the least tolerant person you'll meet. Well, some moments.

    Like all things it's a chance to learn. Zazen, life, impermanence, tolerance, compassion and so on.

    Gassho, and take care. I'm pulling for you

  5. #5
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Chris wrote:
    Well I got an x-ray a couple weeks ago to see if I was on the mend and I I was told there were some abnormalities on the stomach and pre-aortic sack.
    Hi Chris,
    I'm with Jundo on this one!
    Jundo wrote:
    PS - Let us also thank the robbers who beat you up and, thus, may have saved your life. We are all interconnected.
    This is the same first thought that came to my mind when I read through your post. The second thought was how lucky you were to have found Treeleaf at a time when you were going to need the support of a comminity. Much Metta to you in this difficult time! I want to write more but I'm almost out the door to work. Please know you will be in my thoughts.

    Gassho,
    John

  6. #6
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Chris,

    I don't know what to say other than this: We're here for you for whatever we can offer you. Probably not a new Mac, but hopefully a sounding board, place to vent, and safe harbor when you need it. And of course metta, which doesn't immediately seem like much in light of what you are facing, but in fact is everything we can do in one moment for all beings.

    We're with you.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  7. #7
    Senior Member Ekai's Avatar
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    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    I am very inspired by how well you are handling this. I am not sure I could handle it as well as you are. I hope you can heal from all that you have experienced.

    Thanks,
    Jodi

  8. #8

    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Dear Chris,
    unfortunately I cannot provide much of help; I lost a family member
    due to cancer, but my brother did survive its cancer, I'm familiar with
    it only second hand, so to say.
    Personally I think every illness is our body/mind's attempt to tell us
    something, which might have gone wrong in our lives, though I must
    admit its not always easy to find out what it is.

    A year ago I read "The 9 priciples of self healing" which I found very
    inspiring and quite close to my own buddhist practice, though it has
    its specialities.

    _()_
    Peter

  9. #9

    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    wow...just wow.

    no poetic words of wisdom here. all the best to you and yours.

  10. #10

    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Thank you all for your understanding and metta. I wasn't shure whether to post this here or in the life section but since I think zazen is for me intrinsically attached to my outlook and understanding and I wanted to share my experiences through the eyes of my practice and hear others I felt this is the best forum. I do feel blessed that I found treeleaf and even if I am to sick or having difficulty codifying my thoughts due to medications and treatments I due find solace in reading the post that others put up hear and being connected to this sangha. When I first got the news shock, fear, depression and a plethora of other thoughts and emotions kept me from being fully present in the forums here. I think one of the things that I have found interesting is that I heard people come in to therapy and say depression was keeping them from doing stuff and then they would be depressed because they weren't doing stuff but I had never truly experienced that until now. I am also blessed that I have insurance both medical and for my scooter so financially I will not suffer but the greatest boon is that I have many of you who have written me here or through PM and I know I will not go through this alone. Thank you very much. I will say that in all honesty the opening post sounds strong and some days I feel that way but other days I am just aspiring to have that strength. John if I remember correctly you work in a hospital in ER. I don't know if you have heard about herpectin the doctors said it would help in alleviating some of the symptoms of chemo and radiation. I know it is given to breast cancer patients and I have read many positive things about it. I was just wondering if you have any thoughts on the medication. There is so much that goes on with this situation but I would like to summarize what I have learned and have been trying to practice and feel (though it is not always the case)
    Gasho and metta to all at treeleaf who have been kind and welcoming to me. Teaching me humbleness and bringing back the beginner mind that pride of 15 years of practice had hidden.
    Gasho and metta to my attackers who taught me that had situations differed I may have been in their shoes. They helped water the seeds of compassion in me
    Gasho to my knee which taught me to treasurer my sitting meditation and allowed me the opportunity to learn sewing meditation
    Gasho to pneumonia which taught me patience and allowed me to find the cancer in my body
    Gasho to my cancer which is allowing me to see my own impermanence and is teaching me to many things to write down.
    I will end my post here for the sake of brevity. I want to thank you all again and I want to apologize in advance if my post seem jumbled I am on a medication for anxiety and other for pain and they seem to effect my cognitive processing as well as making me drowsy.
    Gasho
    Chris

  11. #11

    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Wow Chris I have nothing I can say to help really.
    I thank you for your teaching and many deep bows to you for sharing.
    You are in my metta (as are your attackers, the thief and all who are suffering) and thoughts and we are here for you in any way we can be.

    Gassho
    Shohei

  12. #12

    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Hi.

    If there is anything, we are here.
    Always.

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  13. #13

    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Hi Chris,

    I am here too. It is very hard. Take great care. Many people go through what you are going through now. You now have a great teacher at home. A wonderful enemy too. Fight hard and with warmth. The practice of Tonglen comes to mind. Also, this woman Zen teacher, a French lady, who survived and has a great take on this, she says that it helped her to realize how kannon was present in every single dded of life, we could every nurse, every smile, every sky as a manifestation of kannon helping her, healing her and loving her.

    Not two, all along


    gassho


    Taigu

  14. #14

    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Wow. Much metta to you man, and thank you for giving so much during such a time as this. We are here with you. If you ever need anything, just write me.

    Gassho,

    Risho

  15. #15

    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    I'm here too Chris.
    Lots of metta and a deep bow for the courage to share this.

    Gassho

    Rimon

  16. #16

    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Hello Chris,

    I have nothing useful to say other than that I will send you loads of Metta.

    Gassho,

    Hans

  17. #17
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    I also don't think I have anything more useful to say than others here, but I wish you much metta. You seemed already like a strong person to me, so I believe that the strength you already have will increase and carry you through this.

    Gassho
    Julia

  18. #18

    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Thank you so much Chris, for sharing your current situation(s).
    All these things to face and deal with and handle. All this information gathering and decision making. And the views you shared held by so many people/family: some helpful, some not so much. And your own perspective, which you write so eloquently and whole-heartedly about.
    From what you write I see you wear your practice well--and it suits you. Carrying the Dharma: it within you and you in it.
    Take good care.
    Looking forward to your updates.

  19. #19
    Senior Member KellyRok's Avatar
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    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Hello all,

    Chris - you have endured quite alot in a such a short amount of time. Yet, you have done it so gracefully and honestly! I wish I had some words of wisdom to offer you, yet I don't. I'm so glad you are here with us at Treeleaf and hope you continue to share your journey with us. You are not alone and you amaze me with your strength and determination.

    We are here for you. You are in my thoughts and metta...take care of yourself.

    bows to you,
    Kelly/Jinmei

  20. #20

    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Hi Chris
    What I am about to write here may or may not help you on the road ahead.. It is simply my perspective on your original post. I carried a printed copy around with me for a few days pondering what I can say to help you have a happy and productive life in spite of all the storm clouds looming over you.

    To give you an idea where I am coming from, up to about six years ago I was a very active National Park Ranger, climber, cave explorer, cross country runner, road cyclist, married, two wonderful (adult) kids and a contuning number of grand kids. Life was “perfect”. That was six years ago.

    I am now a cancer survivor having gone through the impacts of the cancer and of the treatment. While the cancer is gone, the damage done to my body by the treatment will be with me the rest of my life. While dealing with the cancer recovery I also was trying to help my son and his struggling family through depression, suicidal thoughts and other issues related to mental illness. This is the point where Jundo and Treeleaf entered the picture. I was very enthusiastic about studying for the first Jukai ceremony offered by Treeleaf but was so occupied with my personal and family issues just could not see finding the time and peace to sew the rakazu, Jundo gently offered alternatives that I soon saw were not needed. I simply had to let go of all the garbage and sew. By the time the Jukai ceremony occurred I found I had sewed two rakazu, as well as cases for each. The lesson was simply to let all the agitation drop away. These is not to say I did not set goals for physical recovery, set up personal training schedule, and do what I could for my son and his family. With this a new lesson was learned; don’t count on things staying the same!

    About a year ago I started to have respiratory problems, had to park the road bike and give up the running shoes. Then things started to get really bad. Lots of trips to the Dr. and lots of antibiotics. But I was fighting reality and in complete denial; that something was very wrong. Around the middle of December I could barely get around. My brother in law grabbed me and rushed me to the closest hospital, about 30 miles away, and in a short time was on a medi-flight to our major medical facility some 160 miles to the north. I had waited too long trying to convince myself that things will stay the same. My lungs had filled with fluid and even respirators were ineffective in getting enough oxygen to my system. Chest tubes were inserted as soon as I came in the ICU along with major antibiotic regime.

    Things had changed; I finally realized one can not change reality simply by wishing it. Shortly after arrival according to what my Dr. related to me and what I was aware of I was at the edge of death. He had little hope of saving me, and I was aware of a sensation comparable to a small wave lapping on a beach and leaving behind some of the debris brought with it. Each wave was smaller, and fewer debris were left behind, and then a stillness and nothing. Not sure if that experience was simply imagination or real, but it did make me realize that our “life switch” can be flipped off at any moment and it is not that bad of thing.

    During the following months I had two admissions for pneumonia and spent 37 days in the hospital. From what you describe, I am sure you are going to go through some very tough times; unbearable confinement to beds and tubes and other abuses to you body and mind.

    My advise from my experience is do not try and explain why or how all these things happened to you. It’s what is. You may have imagined a healthy recovery from pneumonia and lots of trips on your motor scooter, but that is not what is happening. Go along with what is happening, however that does not mean to not try and make things better, but simply accept what ever situation you are in.

    Some tools I found useful. When waiting for the Doctor, who is hours behind schedule ,to come in, don’t frustrate yourself thinking about it, simply do zazen. When you are wide awake in the middle of the night in the hospital with tubes and wires attached, don’t toss and turn and try to get a nurse to bring you a pain med, simply organize your attachments, fold a blanket to a small square and sit zazen. It really works taking the edge off for the rest of the night and the fun side it really freaks out the nurses.

    So Chris, take care, don’t try and answer the questions “why me?” or “how come?” Work with what faces you, but also never give up on getting over it. Had to work awhile on that thought with the help of Jundo. But it is like the Heart Sutra. It is, but is not a dichotomy. One last thought, if you have not done so already, check out Taigu’s directions on sewing a rakazu, It is an experience in itself and a healing practice.

    I will be holding you in my Metta thoughts each morning as the cats and I sit at sunrise.

    Jim

  21. #21

    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Hi, Chris.

    So much great advice given already. You sound like you are handling things as well or better than can be expected. My thoughts are with you.

    If it helps at all, my wife has been in remission (leukemia) for 10 years now, and my brother (non-Hodgkins lymphoma) has been in remission for about 7 years. There are so many great things being done for the treatment of cancer these days. I wish you well and hope that you respond favorably to treatment. Keep us updated.

    Gassho,
    Eika

  22. #22

    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Hi Chris,

    I am new here, so we probably haven't talked. I am sorry to hear about your diagnosis.
    I have a close work friend who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year. Amazingly he is doing better than what anyone thought possible. So I believe to some extent these things can be fought in their own way.

    In terms of karma, in my opinion Buddhism's chief focus is overcoming karma. The Buddha said that without the 3rd & 4th noble truths there would be no point to the holy life. (Somewhere in the Pali Scriptures he said that! lol).

    Basically if we are all just Karma's victim, then there is no point to Buddhist practice.

    I hope that any of us here can be the support you need, however small that may be.

    Gassho

    David

  23. #23
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Chris wrote:
    John if I remember correctly you work in a hospital in ER.
    Hi Chris,
    Sorry I almost missed this question as I didn't think if was for me. ops: Actually I work in the kitchen of a hospital. I see patients frequently but only to bring them their lunch. So my knowledge is limited to soups and sandwiches. Hope you get the answers you need on this one!

    Gassho,
    John

  24. #24

    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Hey Chris, all I can say is thank you. You are already an inspiration.
    Much metta,
    Tom

  25. #25

    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Hey Chris,
    all sounds a bit of a bummer to me (should be safe with that, it is an American saying I believe ops: ). I cannot add any cancer specific help to this but a couple of years back I had a little trouble with the old ticker and had to have a quad by-pass ( because, as we all know; "By-passes have got to be built Mr.Dent). Anyway, the point is my years of Zen are what got me through it all (that a very caring partner). Even just looking at my card portable Medicine Buddha during the night while trying not to hate the plastic jellyfish that was forcing air into me was a great reminder to let go and adjust to what is at the time.
    In the mean time I shall try to propel much metta towards you.


    Joe

  26. #26
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Much metta to you Chris.

  27. #27

    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Chris,

    So sorry to hear about your immense setbacks! Sounds like you have taken an excellent view of these challenges with respect to your practice. I am humbled by your courage. Please keep us posted.

    Gassho,
    Matt

  28. #28
    Senior Member Nenka's Avatar
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    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Metta to you, Chris. We all wish you the best.

    Gassho,

    Jennifer

  29. #29

    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Thank you all for the metta and the personal sharing. I am hanging in there trying to follow all my new diet and medication regiments. I am acting as an unofficial chaplain for the cancer center and hospital I go to. I brought my zafu and zabutton to the clinic to try to meditate through treatment and people asked me what I was doing and not to long after that we had an informal sitting with some patients, doctors and nurses. As chaplain they have me help the official chaplain work with non christians. We have one patient who is Jodo Shinshu who is teaching me about her practice and two wiccans who are sharing their traditions with me. I also am helping the muslim patients get in touch with the local masjid for their needs. Since I am not fully trained as chaplain I asked the catholic priest to teach me some of the basics so i can help as much as possible and if there is a problem I just defer to him. It is a great thing since I am taking a leave from school and I am just doing 3 groups and some phone counseling at the mental health clinic. I also want to say that this is one of the toughest things I have ever gone through and it has really opened my eyes to the full amount of suffering that is present with dealing with cancer. On a lighter note I haven't lost my head hair but I did lose it on parts of my chest and armpits, very weird.
    Gassho
    Chris

  30. #30

    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Hi, Chris. Hope you can get some good sleep now--it is late in the night for you. You do have many people here with whom to talk and who will keep you in their thoughts. Rest well. Gasho, Grace.

  31. #31
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Hi Chris,

    Thank you for taking the time to keep us all up to date.
    The work you are doing at the cancer center is truly inspirational! Life has handed you lemons and you have definitely made lemonade. Not only that but it seems that you are sharing that lemonade to quench the thirst of others in their time of need! What you are doing is very touching. _/_

    Gassho,
    John

  32. #32

    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Thanks for keeping us updated Chris.

    Gassho

  33. #33

    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Chris, I don't know what it feels like to be diagnosed with cancer per se, but I do when it comes to life altering accidents. About eleven years ago, while driving home from church, I somehow left the road and struck a wooden board fence. A fence post and a couple boards came through the windshield and drove thier way into my shoulder injuring the brachial plexus, leaving two ribs and a collar bone broken, and my arm totally paralized. A month later, a reconstructive surgical procedure was undertaken to repair the nerve damage to the shoulder by taking nerves from the back of my legs and grafting them onto the severed ones. I was naive about the procedure; I thought it would be like plugging a lamp into the wall. Nerves take sooooo long to grow back, if they do at all. Learning to wait, and to simply accept the situation is an adventure. I'm learning that this life. It's not easy. There were times I wanted to simply cut the useless flesh from body, thinking that somehow it would help. With therapy the sensation has returned all the way down to the tips of my fingers. I still have a limited range of motion, but it's more the nothing at all. We care about you. Metta, my brother.

    Gassho

    Jonathan

  34. #34

    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Chris,

    Thank you for keeping us updated. It's so wonderful how you have transformed your own personal suffering into serving others. Reminds me of the old Taoist farmer tale ("who knows what's good or bad")

    I'd like to think I could be that strong and motivated in your situation!

    Gassho,
    Matt

  35. #35
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Jonathan wrote:
    Chris, I don't know what it feels like to be diagnosed with cancer per se, but I do when it comes to life altering accidents. About eleven years ago, while driving home from church, I somehow left the road and struck a wooden board fence. A fence post and a couple boards came through the windshield and drove thier way into my shoulder injuring the brachial plexus, leaving two ribs and a collar bone broken, and my arm totally paralized. A month later, a reconstructive surgical procedure was undertaken to repair the nerve damage to the shoulder by taking nerves from the back of my legs and grafting them onto the severed ones. I was naive about the procedure; I thought it would be like plugging a lamp into the wall. Nerves take sooooo long to grow back, if they do at all. Learning to wait, and to simply accept the situation is an adventure. I'm learning that this life. It's not easy. There were times I wanted to simply cut the useless flesh from body, thinking that somehow it would help. With therapy the sensation has returned all the way down to the tips of my fingers. I still have a limited range of motion, but it's more the nothing at all. We care about you. Metta, my brother.
    Wow man that's rough! Metta to you too Jonathan for what you have gone through! In what ways have you adapted your limitations to your practice?

    Gassho,
    John

  36. #36
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Hey Chris

    First of all, thank you for sharing all this with us.

    I can't even imagine the things you are going through, but I can say that this is your finest hour, where you will show yourself how well trained and mature you are to go through the sickness and harshness of life.

    And if you ask me, I think you'll make it through. Just hang in there and keep on handling things the way you are. Learn and learn a lot from you and your body.

    Like all the great guys up there, I am here too. If you ever need to talk and have a laugh, send me a message!

    My sitting will be for you.

    Metta

  37. #37

    Re: Karmic kick in the butt

    Wow man that's rough! Metta to you too Jonathan for what you have gone through! In what ways have you adapted your limitations to your practice?
    After giving it some thought, I would say that it is both adapting my limitations to the practice and using the practice to adapt my limitations (or at least my perceptions of my limitations). I am flexible when it comes to posture due to complications with the incisions on the back of my legs; there was a lot of scar tissue that inhibits, to a degree, my legs' flexibility. Also, the length of holding a certain posture is varied. Since I don't have "normal" sensation in my left arm the postion of the hands/thumbs/arms is varied. Sometimes I use a pillow on my lap to rest my hands on so that I can compensate; and alleviate pain that creeps between my shoulder blades. As for the practice adapting my limitations, there are several ways. First, this happened while I was still a practicing Christian and in the back of my mind I had carried blame and resentment that this had happened., or was let to happen, to me. When I first started practicing this became apparent. And so I just changed my thinking, there were causes and conditions (I blacked out or something, but I don't know what happened that made me leave the road) that arose to create this situation; and that's it. No one directing events to punish or let things happen. The situation is what it is. But, here is where accepting/non-accepting comes it. My arm/body is what is it is, just perfect the way it is. Nothing to add or subtract. But I still do range of motion exercises, and I am very careful the way I lift the cases of soda and gatorade with one arm, so as not to create more injury to my body. Practice is life and vice-versa.

    Gassho

    Jonathan

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