Tuesday, 19 January 2010

A brave new world

Being a bloke, and a competitive one at that, I don't like to give in or be seen to be defeated. But times they have a changed and I've been trying to live in a brave new world now for some time, where admitting that I can't manage something and not being a competitor reap greater rewards.

Managing life with ME or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, as it is now usually known, along with my Buddhist Practise leaves me a times floundering in a world of lost identity. Always going on, but with a leash behind me that likes to yank me back into old habits when I least expect it or feel afraid to face the present.

So with a determination to do what is right I travelled to Lerwick last night to what I think is the islands only Buddhist meeting. I met a lovely group of people largely following Friends of the Western Buddhist Order practises, not Soto Zen, above the Peerie Cafe in Lerwick. Thinking of being a spiritual adult, my new world of doing what is right for me now and knowing that there was no way I was going to be able to sit for 40 minutes at the moment. I lay down to sit. The rest were sitting on their benches, foam blocks and zafus. I lay in the 'corridor' at the top of the stairs. Was I chuffed with myself, you bet I was!

Before meditation the leader for the night read a few excerpts from a book 'Living Well with pain and illness: the mindful way to free yourself from suffering'

I can't remember all what he read, but it struck a chord with me, enough for me to go and order it online.

The gist of it was that pain is often an invisible thing, even if we can see evidence of it in, or on some one, we really don't know how it affects them; it's a very intimate sensation. We often assume that everyone else is OK, just like we often think other people's lives are better than our own in some way. The first 2 Noble Truths spring to mind here.

One exercise in the book (as far as I remember) is to sit with a few people and each spend a minute saying what their pains are right now, physical or emotional. Realising that each of us have suffering. This is followed by a minute each saying what is 'good' just now.

Sometimes one needs hitting with the stick several times to drive a point home. I seem to have a thick skull because it stuck me, yet again, that for all the problems I have due to my current health state I do have a great deal to celebrate. It is so easy to filter our lives' to only see the pain or lack of something. However, it is so much more rewarding to filter our lives' to see the abundance that is there.


  1. Good on you for doing lying-Zazen! Sometimes I force my knees down to sit cross-legged for no reason other than pride...

  2. I'm not a Buddhist, but I do have long term health issues and this post really struck a chord with me. So thank you for writing it, and you're quite right about the life filtering bit, especially for those of us with health issues.

    Oh and I'm really enjoying reading through your blog too as I'm toying with the idea of applying for a couple of jobs in Shetland myself, so it's useful to read things written by other people who have moved to the island from the English/Scottish mainland :)

  3. Thanks for that comment Kim. Glad you are finding it interesting and good luck with your job hunting for a move to Shetland.


  4. Thanks for the luck - I imagine I might need it!