Painful sensations of sickness can bring a really intense focus to my practice, save the day, and make me much more aware of my default state!
I used to have a lot of digestive problems when I was younger; I learned to correct them by listening to my body rather than to doctors. I designed a diet based on my body’s true preferences rather than what tastes good or the people around me ate. Since making these adaptions my body began to work better than ever; however, I have to follow some rather strict dietary regulations, like no eating near bedtime and abstaining from certain foods.
The other night I got distracted by the death of a family pet, lost track of time and accepted a salad from my roommate when it was nearly bedtime. I also didn’t realize the under the dressing the main ingredient was something I can’t digest. I went to bed and began to experience severe cramping. I had an exam in the morning so getting sleep was pretty imperative, but the cramping and back pain was so uncomfortable I couldn’t stay in one position for very long which made it pretty impossible to relax enough to fall asleep.
I knew that any negative judgment of the sensations/situation would intensify my suffering so I got very serious about accepting what is with my full attention. For some time I lay flat on my back, and suddenly it was like my painful body got put in a laser scanner of subtle vibrations, the only other time I’d felt that was during some sweat lodge ceremonies. Still though, my body was ridged with tension and I could very vividly feel it trying to process the food.
Strangely, a few hours later when I got up, I didn’t actually feel that bad; though I was worried with no REM sleep my brain might get too slow and forgetful during the 2 hr. exam. I could also feel a bit of a tension headache starting, and it worsened when I spoke or thought, so I became absolutely vigilant in conserving my mental energy. I had no thoughts in my head all the way to the exam, and when I wrote it I had far better concentration then I normally do, got done really fast and I was more aware of where each of the questions had come from. When I got home I was a bit light-headed but stayed awake all day so I could reset my schedule. Though a tad slower, my brain remained in a glorious hyper-focused state, with clarity I hadn’t felt since I was at the center! Now I really want to get my mark back!