I will admit that this is such an odd subject to post on. When I think of mindfulness, I think of a quiet field with a slight wind, a lotus flower in water, bodies moving on the Aikido mat. When I think of Diabetes, all of the things that are wrong with modernity seep in. Fast food, quick fixes, instant gratification, “I WANT IT NOW”…. and all of the problems that stem from this thinking. Diabetes, the kind that I have, is a modern phenomenon, borne of this mentality of thinking, of the ad agencies that pump “you deserve a break today” and “you can have it all…easily” into our heads. But, if god is in the wind and the rain and the serenity of the sea, then god is also in and between the cogs of the machines that attempt to rule our lives. And if god is there, then we can seek god wherever we choose. This was a long precursor to what I want to write about. Please hold on. I’ll eventually get to my point… or not.
I’ve not been to Aikido in a little while. My back has been making it such that I cannot practice, have limited ability to exercise and am in pain for a good amount of time. My doctor has prescribed pain pills and anti inflammatory meds, and I was stretching, taking my meds and eeking through the day. This got to be too much so he sent me to physical therapy. There wasn’t much that the physical therapist could do. We talked about some of the stretching I do and he made some changes, but still no good. I emailed my doctor to let him know of my situation and he sent me to a specialist.
I was overjoyed to see that he wasn’t going to wait the 6 weeks we had originally talked about before seeing a therapist and was pretty optimistic to be able to go. I was certain that she, with her big box of spine fix it tools would be able to do something to help me that has not been discussed. I set out to meet her on a thursday morning. I met with her and we started to talk. My joy abruptly stopped.
As it turns out, there’s not a lot that they can do for me. From xrays my spine is pretty straight. Surgery is not an option (i’m glad that they didn’t come out first thing and say that they would cut me, but still.. not something they pulled out from their box). And the one thing that I thought would give me some measure of comfort, I’m not a good candidate for: A cortisone shot is out of the question at this time because my blood sugars are out of control, and cortisone would spike my blood sugars.
We started to talk about some underlying issues and this is what leads me to writing this morning. I’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes for many years. For most of those many years, it has gone uncontrolled. Because of this, the excess sugars in my body are among other things, making my body very hard to heal itself. So, the high blood sugars keep my in pain, pain doesn’t make me want to do anything physical, I get discouraged, don’t want to eat right or do what i CAN do to get healthy, and my blood sugars remain high. This is the definition of a viscous circle. There are probably other elements about myself that I would rather keep private, but that is essentially the underlying issue. The facts are: there is no magic bullet. I will need to take this on and work on getting healthy. It will not happen soon, and I will have to deal with the pain that it causes.
So, here is where the mindfulness comes in… I had a short conversation with my Aikido teacher as he was checking in on my progress. A theme he has been working on in class has been how we tend to objectify our diseases. We often hear about the “war on diabetes” or the “war on cancer” etc. Echkart Tolle talks about this as well. He talks about the fact that we cannot be at war with something that is a part of ourselves. So, I have diabetes. I’ve known this for a very long time but the last couple of days, I’ve been really letting that sink in, not to distance myself from it, not to create war against it, but to simply accept it as a part of the totality of me.
So this is where the mindfulness comes in. It is human nature to put our heads in the sand and wait for our problems to go away. Sometimes we are lucky and they do in fact do that all by themselves. However, this does not create mindfulness about ourselves and how we can deal with other issues that come into our lives. We are not awake when we do this, when we cover our problems up with too much food, incessant tv watching, burying away our thoughts through books, drugs, or alcohol. We are also not awake by the simple denial of those things that are a part of us.
The conversation I had with my doctors were hard ones. A part of me wants to continue on putting my head in the sand, but I know that I can’t anymore. I am simply out of options. But I think that I’m going to go about this differently. I’m not going to say, “I’m going to beat this.” The “Beating” and the “this” part separate me from a part of myself. So, I think that I will try doing something simple. I think that I will simply try being mindful of my present state, and how I can start finding a way to live a better life as a diabetic. Writing is the easy part. Doing, not so much, but I’m doing things behind the scenes for me that I haven’t done before. I’ll probably write about those things in a future post but wanted to share some thoughts. I know that some of you have expressed concern and I wanted to share my process. For those in a similar state of being, I hope it helps.
I’ll close with two thoughts. On my walk yesterday I started thinking of the quote O Sensei Morehei Ueshiba used to say, “Masugatsu agatsu katsuhayabi.” – True victory is self victory, right here right now. I thought a bit about this and started thinking about the “self” in this phrase. I would like to believe that when O Sensei talks about victory, it is not “over the self” but rather “with the self”. I started to think that “over the self” doesn’t make too much sense: I cannot win against me. I cannot lose against me. However, victory WITH the self… I like this ever so much more. I can attain victory everyday, every moment, right here, right now. I do this through mindfulness and acceptance of who I am.
Finally, I remember that there was a quote from Robert Nadeau sensei. I heard it in my mind but it couldn’t get to my lips. I asked my friend Linda Eskin if she could remember it. I somewhat described it to her… “Something about who I have to be something or other.” Linda, who in our Aikido circles is kind of our own little wikipedia of quotes, actually had the quote pinned up on her bulletin board. “Don’t ask how to do this. Ask who you have to be where this is possible.” I remembered the power of this when I first read it and it is a perfect thing for me to say to myself now. So I will be working on who I have to be where this: my health, is possible.