The Little Book of Mindfulness – Live Around the Pain

Live around the pain.

I read the words on pg. 12 in the Introduction. They stopped me in my tracks. Once again – as so often happens – I set the book down and thought about what I’d just read.

I am in pain right now. (I fell a little over a week ago (my post about it) and will get the results of my x-ray on Thursday.) I’m fairly certain it’s my tailbone… and praying that’s all it is.

But anyway…

I am in pain. And… I am working around it… which is to say…

I don’t forget it’s there (because you simply cannot) but I am finding ways to do what needs to be done *in spite* of it.

But am I living around it?

Not exactly.

I originally bought The Little Book of Mindfulness by Dr. Patricia Collard because my word for 2022 is Mindfulness.

I loved the cover art and it looked like something I could hold easily in my hands, and it is! It’s about half the size of a drugstore paperback and less than 100 pages.

Each chapter has several 5-to-10-minute exercises.

  1. Being in the Now
  2. Accept and Respond
  3. Making Your Mind Up
  4. Simply Be
  5. Mindful Eating
  6. Gratitude and Compassion
  7. Everyday Mindfulness

The exercises are familiar to those of us working with mindfulness… everything from feeling your breath to eating for pleasure to making rituals to accepting what is… and beyond.

The beautiful artwork on the cover follows you throughout the pages. It feels quiet and peaceful just thumbing through it. It was, as expected, very easy reading, and the kind of thing you can do day-by-day, moment-by-moment, or every once in a while. I plan to keep it in my backpack or purse to re-read when I’m waiting for groceries or have a break at work.

Now about that… “live around the pain” thing…

I once had a person (and yes, I remember her name because this made such an impression on me – it was Mary and we met at a bank where we both worked) tell me my pain threshold was low because I could hardly function with my headaches. I was later (and finally!) diagnosed with migraines. Until then, I thought they were sinus headaches because I’d had a lifetime of infections. Some of them might have been, of course, but those cyclic headaches that occurred monthly? For SURE they were migraines.

The point is, I carried her words with me. Low pain threshold. Low.

A couple of years ago, I had surgery on my hand. My husband made an observation. He said, “You haven’t been mentioning the pain. After the first day, you didn’t take any pain meds. Did it hurt?”

Well, yes. And, no.

When I cut my finger last December and ended up with stitches, same thing. It hurt, sure, but not that bad. I was back at work and typing around it the next day.

And now, this new injury. I swear, this getting older thing is not for the birds. I have NEVER been accident-prone. Never had stitches for an injury before this. Never fallen in a way that actually hurt me – and I used to jump off the roof onto a nearby tree when I was a kid. Body-surfed the biggest waves. I mean, once, yes, I ended up with a broken arm and concussion (I was… eight?) but that’s a long, long ago memory.

After these last few ouchies, I’m wondering if maybe my pain threshold is not low, but high?

And in a way, it kinda HAS TO BE to get my attention. You know?

With lifelong asthma, migraines, sinus infections, and various other painful stuff that is always just under the surface, I have a warped notion of what is actually painful.

Until this fall on my ass. Kids, I’m squirming right now as I write this, trying to find a comfortable spot to sit. I am VERY LUCKY that my chair at work slopes in a way that allows my poor hiney to rest without pain. Not that it doesn’t hurt… it’s a dull ache… but that’s a big difference from what’s happening at this very moment, which feels like I’m sitting on a tennis ball that won’t move, no matter the machinations.

Living around the pain… or through it? I’m feeling the “through” which is nothing like “around”.

Would “around” be like setting it aside?

I find it a little confusing.

Yet, profound.

So, I’m going to be going through this little book and doing the exercises. This book is a neat little reminder.

I will close with a quote that I like from the book… see if this doesn’t resonate with you:

Sitting with what is – “Don’t try to change it, or wish it away, or ‘fast forward’. This is perhaps the most fundamental mindfulness practice, and yet the most challenging for a ‘quick-fix’ society.” (pg. 62)

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