This week the Default-Mode Network that is my wandering mind, or undercurrent, has mainly amused itself by waiting for a strange blood clot to kill me after having the Oxford Vaccine on the 4th of April.
Despite my ability to focus well on work, and to practice mindfulness – my mind is perpetually reminding me, interjecting its warning at random points during the day and waking me in the middle of the night – telling me I need to be on alert for any indication of a symptom that may be the end of me. “I am not worried” I say to myself. However, I wake up in the middle of the night with a disturbing reality: the unequivocable impermanence of my being is presented to me with a crystal clear clarity. It feels like my DMN has actually hijacked my mindful faculty for its own ends. It is using my new-found mindful awareness of bodily awareness of sensations against me! What a slippy thing! I’m hoping that the seeing is the doing, as Krishnamurti said.
The thought triggers more thinking and rumination: I find myself thinking about what would happen to my family should I suddenly be taken from them in a sudden way. What would I want to DO if that had been a lethal injection (says my mind at 3am). Have I got words of wisdom for my three grown up children. I feel into my wisdom mode as I lie in the dark. I remember my nana when she was ill and the most reassuring thing she said to me was that she was not scared. I decide to tell my children that if I am taken then I am not scared. It feels good to say that to them, which I do the next day.
“I am still alive!”, I say as I wake up another morning, a general announcement to the household. Nobody else seems to think this is a big deal. We sit to breakfast where I now read that an Italian woman aged 55 died after the vaccine, that I have in my arm. I am 55. Her symptoms appeared after two weeks. I am not out of the woods yet.
I am aware I am making this into something that requires some kind of acknowledgement from my family members, who are reluctant to provide me with what I need. I am being indirect. An old pattern where I send out a humorous message when scared or feeling vulnerable. I am aware suddenly of what’s happening while it’s happening – I see the subterfuge of the mind and look at it with curiosity. How can I expect my family to understand these coded messages? Coded messages that I am only now able to see in myself? What I mean is ‘can someone please give me a hug?’ But that won’t come out of my mouth. That has never come out of my mouth.
The reaction I get suggests I am over-reacting, being ridiculous– statistically speaking, they say, I am more likely to be killed by a donkey today. This may be true. But that sends another pain signal to me as I am not heard. How can they not know what I need? my thoughts whine – the second arrow now flying from its bow! Nobody loves me! I see this one immediately and smile but it’s quickly followed by the third arrow quick as a flash – I see I am doing the dreaded ‘poor me’ and that is not something I do. Urgh it’s not a good feeling. I allow it all to be there. This unravelling can be messy. Heather and Rob Nairn have taught us about this Compassionate Messiness that we find ourselves in. The compassion catches us as we unravel. I am unravelling.
Sometimes now thank goodness I can laugh at the antics of my needy mind. Eckharte Tolle speaks of a pain body which continually seeks other pain bodies to react with. When everything is at peace – the pain body which I believe to be a similar construct to the ego-centric preference system activates and it demands attention, it cannot stand to be ignored and so its demands become greater and greater (for example when we sit to meditate our to-do list looms large! Anything but allow access to the subconscious mind where ego is challenged and endangered!) I feel like this aspect of my nature is sending its signals from deeper levels – suggesting emotions supressed by the mind which operates on a subconscious level. Insight training helps us to be still enough, to still the waters to glimpse what’s lurking beneath the surface.
Mindfulness reminds me to become present; each ALERT is countered with a gentle guiding back to the breath in this moment, and that is so soothing- so liberating.
Focusing on my breath I notice the shifting sensations in my body, my aliveness, I am very alive right now. “I am alive” i.e. “I am not dead” has now become “wow, I am alive and it is amazing”.
With this aliveness I can explore the incredible faculty of mind that I have, and be grateful for the opportunity to practice, to benefit from the amazing teachings that help me to see my minds’ stories and to turn them around.
I’m writing and wondering if this momentary dizziness is a blood clot. The mind interjecting again into my peaceful, vibrant, mindful space which I glimpse for a glittering moment.
I think mindfulness, leading to my new-found bodily awareness has given my undercurrent a new toy: hypochondria! At first numb to my body at the atart of my Mindfulness training, I am now hyper vigilant of all its sensations and quirks. I am reassured as I was reminded last week at my per group teaching practice during an enquiry session. One participant experienced an inordinate amount of distraction while I was leading an enquiry. In the enquiry afterwards it came to mind that this can be seen as a sign of growing mindfulness – we have become aware of the busyness of the mind whereas before we were completely lost in the mind, lost in the undercurrent. When we begin our first steps into mindfulness and we realise that we don’t have to think our thoughts, and begin to notice them as separate from us, and we can climb out onto the riverbank and observe them. At this point it can seem that our minds are getting ‘worse’ but it’s not – it’s just that we are now able to notice it as it’s happening. So this too, this hypersensitivity can be worked through if I just sit with each sensation and notice its shifting nature, its impermanence, its emptness – it is not me. My attached thoughts are real but not true. I see that underlying fears are latching on to arising sensations which are triggering thinking which is being intercepted by my amygdyla so each sensation this week has become a death threat. I am not entirely sure which order this is all happening! But a lot of it is instantaneous, subliminal, and its only mindfulness that helps me dive out of the loop and come back to the OKness of the present moment.
As my thinking brain turns this into something interesting to think about – I now feel back into the nobody loves me storyline that I can still feel but now with mindful awareness applied it has lost its power.
I could still do with a hug. Seeing as I am still alive.
Maybe I will step over my ‘poor me’ story, leave it there, and go and give my family a hug sharing with them the sheer joy of being alive.
This week I invite you to be on alert for the little Poor Me voice that needs a hug. Be curious about the thoughts around the Poor Me, feel into the sensations of Poor Me, and without thinking too much – offering lovingkindnes to whatever you find.
Placing a hand on the heart or offering yourself some comfort as you do this may help to soothe you as you witness what you find. Journal the experience, each time you hear Poor Me and always, stay curious!
So this week, I send you a hug – from my Poor Me to Yours, and I do hope you find some sheer joy of being in your life this week.
Warm hugs all round, until next time. Take care of yourself.