Last month, I had more episodes of forced stillness than I have had in a long time. Come to think of it, these were probably the most episodes I’ve ever had in a one month period. While most of my experiences stayed in the present, some of my memories from the past did resurface.
Right around the time that I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis a few years ago, I had some of my first episodes of forced stillness. While my body stayed still, my mind was anything but. It felt trapped, and it wasn’t happy. It was doing everything possible to try to escape from the stillness.
While these episodes of this past month were much better (emotionally) than those of a few years, I realized that there was still much more that I could do in order to try to turn them into less traumatic experiences. During those moments, when I could not move or speak, I realized what was going on and my mind was relatively calm. It was afterward, once the ice seemed to melt away, that it felt more traumatic than ever. In a weird sort of way, the hours immediately after these episodes were more difficult to cope with than the actual episodes themselves.
So I looked at my meditation practice, and started to think of how many moments of complete stillness – physical and mental – that I have experienced while meditating. Sometimes these moments come during a session of dedicated meditation, while others come at the end of a yoga/pilates class while I am lying in corpse pose (savasana). The one thing that all of these different types of stillness have in common is that they are relaxing, refreshing, and renewing.
And in a way, they are “voluntary”. I decide when I want to enter into these moments of stillness.
I started to think…why not incorporate the best aspects from my moments of “voluntary” stillness into my moments of “forced” stillness. Better yet, why not remove the labels completely? Voluntary stillness. Forced stillness. What I am left with is just stillness. And as I have learned through my meditation and yoga practices, moments of stillness are often beautiful.
Sometimes, I will be able to decide when the stillness comes, and sometimes I won’t be able to decide when the stillness comes. When it does come, however, I will do my best to make it a pleasant experience. From now on, I will move into and enjoy the stillness, rather than fight against it.
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!