The first article under the heading of ‘Being Human – The Way We Are’ Drama Versus Reality concludes leaving the reader with a question:
“So the question is – how can we remove ourselves from the world of drama – rather than wait until TIME delivers us our greater picture… our fuller perspective?
Can we live within drama and yet apart from it?” The second of my articles under the heading of ‘Being Human – The Way We Are’ asks the reader to begin to examine the many areas of our lives that this question can both arise and thrive in.
Where have you seen and/or where can you envisage seeing this question arise? When I queried myself, I realised that as the first article states, we don’t normally see that we are stuck in a drama at the time and if we do, although it reminds us of our debate about reality and drama, we soon forget it. I noted for myself, that the dramas that I most often found myself caught up in and also witnessed that others often found themselves most caught up in, were the ones that involved much perceived suffering and this motivated the writing of my second article. The Truth Of Disease attempts to unpick the stereotypical thinking often attached to the the topic of ‘dis-ease’ and show where we can take the helm and refuse to allow ‘drama’ to steal the show.
The Truth Of Disease.
There are many conditions that form around us through our lives, more and less tangibly, according to our perceptions. Just like addictive bad relationships that we cannot resist, or additive soaked sweets that we like that should really be binned, unhealthy conditions form without our attention and we find ourselves inside them, being affected by them – and unable to change anything much at all. These conditions are built through many moments and it occurred to me that if we were able to let go of each and every moment as it passed, would this still be the case? Would the same conditions still be created?
I have witnessed personally and through observing others that we hang on to moments, short ones and longer ones, simple ones and complex ones. If they are good, we hold tight to make sure that they don’t go away and if they are bad, we hold tight (through our fear and suffering) to make sure that they don’t stay. If we were able to let go of these moments as if they were all passing ships, including our suffering through the discomfort of disease, and stop ourselves from grasping at each moment through fear, would the same conditions be created, or would we find ourselves on new ground?
There is grasping in the negative sense but maybe there is more than one way to grasp onto something. Do we grasp through a need for attention and care; or maybe though conditioning because we have already had the same or something similar and it feels comfortable to be without it? I want to focus for a moment on less obvious ways that we ‘grasp’ – because I think if we can become aware of these less obvious ways that we grasp onto things and won’t let them go, then we can practise going against the grain of these tendencies, thereby minimising suffering, whilst maximising our sense of substantial self at the same time.
We are creatures of habit and habit can form very quickly. There is nothing like habit to engender grasping. It can take as little as two, or maybe three nights, for two people sharing a bed for the first time to then miss one another when they next sleep apart and grasp for one another. We create habits willy-nilly without a thought (or without observing the thoughts involved at the time). In fact, we live within a whole universe of precise habits creating a network of support to survive and maintain ourselves. We need habit and we thrive within it. Think about it; if you were in charge of maintaining your own breathing – do you really think you’d be alive now? It’s great that some habits are so well developed in us as they are needed to insure our survival. Perhaps if we examine HOW habits are formed, is is possible that they can be used to our advantage? However, we are not discussing this quite yet, but instead how habit may play a part in grasping and holding onto moments that create conditions for suffering – and specifically in the area of disease.
Try to recall the last time that you were really unwell. Picture yourself then and then move deeper into the experience. Remember the moments and the conditions around you at that time. Were you sitting up in bed stating ‘I am well!’ with a huge grin on your face despite the discomfort you were experiencing? No – and that is hardly surprising as it NOT what we generally do. We talk about and think about how bad our suffering is and hope that it will end as soon as possible and when people visit, we either don’t manage to smile or manage a faint smile from a martyr’ish perspective whilst resisting any idea that we are getting better or even may get better with any conviction at all. We are so good at suffering over our own suffering and feeling like underdogs on top of it – that asking ourselves what we really can do about it, often doesn’t enter the equation. Instead we talk about it (using energy) and depending on how much we feel we are suffering, depends on just how much passion we put into talking about it – and we will talk about it with our friends and family, doctors and even strangers on the train for example. We fidget about it. When our body is uncomfortable and needs rebalancing, we often hold it in a certain tense way (using energy) and depending on the level of discomfort we feel we are having to endure, we hold our bodies tighter and tighter and tighter. We lie about it (using energy); we might fashion our description of our own experience to meet our emotional requirement – i.e. to impact the person we are telling, in a way that satisfies us that they fully understand how much we are suffering. This is an example of hanging onto the drama of disease.
Through these happenings, we inadvertently create conditions around us for the dis-ease to thrive. We don’t take the simple route – inside ourselves to a place of quiet and sincerity. We don’t use our individuality to pull ourselves into shape again – we look outwards – outwards for answers and then outwards to blame – anything other than taking responsibility for ourselves.
My question to you is if we replaced these habitual negative thoughts with with positive affirmations, would; 1. The dramatic moments be effectively passed by and not hung on to? and 2. Would this result in changing conditions and the diminishing of disease? But I realised that this is a very big ‘if’ because we are largely creatures of habit and to ask someone to exert themselves in such a way when they are feeling sorry for themselves is probably too tall an order. this led me to wanting to look at habit in more depth to see how they are formed and to see how they could perhaps be un-formed, or even reformed in a way pallatable with the already suffering, the already knee-deep in drama.
After some study and observation, I saw that habits can be formed through shocks – even a single shock records on the reels of our memory bank and then begs to be acknowledged, through the revisiting of that emotion, those dynamics and the associated opinions, conflicts etc. And habits can also be formed through repetition. I saw that in the main the single big shock route could cause chaos, whereas the repetition route would seem tedious for many though to me seemed a sure route if someone was really dedicated. There are multitudes of self-help books full of wonderful ideas and we read them with ‘ahh’s’ and ‘oh’s’ of recognition and then go away without changing a thing. There are
group workshops where we can receive guidance through imitation, to show us how things can work, how they can be better – which again, can last for a while before we need another. How many days and nights have you sat around a table with mates, discussing the Universe and how we can better our position in it to become more functional – whilst your efforts to change are usurped because the grip of habit is stronger than your ability to lift it out of that groove and into another you have chosen? Why does this happen? Why do these gems elude us?
After noting that disease is often a dramatic experience for people within their suffering and that this drama is created by moments that have been grasped onto and not passed by – and that to create a habit takes either a big shock or much repetition, it seemed to me that there was no way out for those experiencing the suffering of disease. As I deliberated over this I saw another problem. I realised that when someone is suffering, unbeknown to them they are using a lot of energy and so another problem within the possibility of instilling new habits, was a lack of energy. But sick people are often low on energy, this is par for the course, so again, I met a brick wall. I realised that the most that a patient could be asked to consider, was to ‘”Shhhh,…conserve your energy my love.”
Then it hit me – Geronimo! ‘If we put those habits in when we are well and our energy levels are good, then this other way of thinking would be available to us when we’re sick! Of course! It takes energy to change. Like an aircraft on a runway, it takes a healthy fuel tank to be able to lift that craft from the ground hundreds of miles against gravity into the sky. Without the power, it can want to fly and talk about flying and discuss with others about flying and criticise others that do fly – but it won’t fly unless it is properly fed. Like us.
I saw that slowly but surely we can create new habits. That there is no point trying to do it all at once as that is unlikely to work – and there’s no point in trying at all if we don’t first attend to our energies – because it won’t take long before we are talking ourselves out of this bright idea to change our habits if we are low on energy. We do need to be willing to sacrifice certain sides of ourselves – sides that keep us entrenched in the habits we want to break. But we can begin simply with sleep because we know that I tired body has no reserve for changing habits – so we have to start small and with what is obvious.
We began by looking at the probable effect of dramatically holding onto the suffering of disease. If we worked to change our habits when we had sufficient energy to do so, then would disease become a sign of imbalance rather than the announcement of a period of suffering? And would this new way of thinking, invite us to ask, “What is out of balance? What needs to be addressed? What is is that I am not attending to that is creating this imbalance because I know that when I do attend to it, my body will again be free of disease.”
Ask yourself, are you in a condition now, to change your own habits, so that you have the right tools at hand, the right reminders along the way, to take responsibility for your own dis-ease? Do you waste your energy and then find yourself without any when you need to study a problem and make a change? Next time you’re on a bus, and you witness the red-nosed guy next to you blowing his snotty hooter – watch your habitual thoughts…what do they say? “Bloody hell – I bet I get that blokes cold now.” or “Poor guy, run down. He could do with redressing the balance of things in his inner and outer world.”
I am not encouraging judgement over others – I’m highlighting the habitual thoughts which often enter and shape us if they are allowed to go unchecked – that then contribute to a vicious circle of disease, with far reaching effects.
This study brought me to see that although disease is often seen as an outcome, a result – and then the symptoms attended to accordingly, really disease is a signal, a friend and a teacher, beckoning us to take a look at what is out of balance. Therefore the truth of disease, is that it is only an experience on the way to becoming more whole.
Finally, a question for you. When you are unwell and suffering over your own suffering, feeling impossibly caught in the disease that has you in its grip, imagine that each word, each sentence, each groan collects in the ether and bounces back to you like a the ripples returning inwards after a stone has been plopped into the water. Imagine that each word, sentence and groan, hits others on the way out and the way in, impacting them along the way.
Do you feel it is worth making changes when you do have the energy to? Or is is only when you are suffering that this thought occurs to you – when you are too weak to put anything against your habits at all?
Thank you for reading. Comments welcome.
© 2015 Sarita Perrott. All Rights Reserved.