I’ve been trying for quite a while now to stay in a place of gratitude but I come from long lines of curmudgeons whose chief occupation in life is criticizing and complaining, so it’s a tough transformation for me. I’ve managed to be less critical and to drop most of the whining and complaining but not to really move into maintaining a mindfulness of gratitude. Lately I’ve been reflecting on it a lot in terms of some of the tougher things going on.
In the years that the vise grip around my head has been coming unwound (vise grip being composed of every muscle in my face and head being wound in knots) I’ve had muscles twitching and moving, sometimes for hours on end and often in the night, robbing me of sleep. Also has given me regular migraines. Now I know that all of these unpleasant experiences are part of becoming well so I can find a place of gratitude for all of it, usually when I’ve had a good night’s sleep and my head doesn’t ache.
Several friends and I have been talking about the challenge of holding that centered, calm place (where I think gratitude lives) and nobody has an answer for how to hold the space when your head is splitting. It’s the best argument I’ve found for some of the Zen and Tibetan meditation practices that involve twisting your body into a horrible position and holding it for hours. I still don’t want to do it but I get the theory…
In a different vein, I drove to Chicago yesterday and had one of the kinds of trips I think of as nightmarish — got lost early on on a detour that got me caught in rush hour traffic, bad weather, etc. I kept finding myself drifting into high anxiety and thoughts of how awful this was and then I kept reminding myself that actually I was fine and why did I think this was so terrible; it was an assumption I’d made about the response certain conditions required and I could change my mind about it. By the time I arrived in the Chicago area — where there was less traffic than I’d been in in Indiana or Kentucky (that’s a first) — I was smiling to myself and thinking, “I’m grateful I didn’t have an accident or a breakdown,” and to gaze with love on the skyline as I flew past. By the time I was hugging my friends I wasn’t thinking about nightmares.
I’m getting it down how to see and accept my reactions and move away in many circumstances but I have to say when my head is pounding or my muscles are jerking around all night I still haven’t figured out how to get myself to move away from it in the moment. The best I’ve gotten to is grumbling gratitude afterwards.