Wow! Yesterday will be a hard act to follow. Very moving responses to my wholehearted thoughts. Good thing I am not in this to impress; I would be doomed right now.
I read for pleasure more yesterday than I have been able to do in a while. Not because my life is so busy, or anything like that, it’s just that when I read, my priority is study right now. Those of you who keep track of my personal FB page likely noticed the three block quotes I posted from Full Catastrophe Living. If you missed them, I invite you to check them out, as they resonated with me to the point of becoming a transmitter.
The subject matter is chronic pain and meditation, but the unseen force is how long I have been waiting for this, the 22nd, chapter and the one following entitled “More on Pain.” When one has swollen vertebrae chapters like “Working With Physical Pain: Your Pain Is Not You” tends to intrigue. Obviously, it did not let me down in the slightest. This segues well into talking about how meditation has helped my pain, as well descriptions of details and challenges that still lie ahead.
Practicing mindfulness is noticing and letting go. Moving past the physical things that attempt to control us, and sometimes we’ll so far as to confuse as ourselves. It is very important to remember that you are not even you. Sounds ridiculous, but it is true from the neuroscientific stand point. In Full Catastrophe Living Doctor Kabat-Zinn makes the mistake of telling everyone that people are not like cars in a mechanistic way. The book was published in 1990, so I can forgive the author, but this does needs attention.
We are biological machines, and any biologist who looks into the inner workings of cellular anatomy will tell you the same. We are as series of chemical reactions powered by bits of electricity and biochemistry and that is all. We have thus far found no ethereal tendrils connected to Aminoacyl-tRNA Synthetases (aaRS) driving them along. These are complex molecules, and if they all vanished right now, within several hours (maybe longer as cells could no longer repair DNA. Some folks might last weeks, lets hope it‘s never tested) the entire species would fall ill and die, indeed many species would suffer from removing aaRS. Yet, these enzymes are not “you.” Is the oil in the car “the car?” No. Just one piece of the puzzle. Then we realize cars are very simple machines compared to the most basic prokaryotic organism.
So in this little window we see that Doc Kabat-Zinn is correct and incorrect at the same time. People are just like cars, but you are not any one part of that system, pain included—maybe especially pain. Pain is a biochemical signal interpreted by a neuronal network to let the self know that there is an issue. The self itself being a product of the same electrochemical functions. System after system to produce a single nugget of consciousness that couldn’t possibly be considered “you” as it is flux of ever-changing interactions and states. “Damn, Rance. That doesn’t leave much room for ‘the person.” Contrary, that is what the space of meditation and selfactualization is. An arena of flux where we can see many of the systems working together to produce the self. Allowing each of us to see the systems for what they are, an interconnected set of communication tools in order to make sure half-strands of DNA combine with other half-strands in order to perpetuate the system of DNA replication. Happiness is not required for this function.
You are only riding with your selfish genes which are piloting you towards that end.
That being said, there are so many systems that they actually compete for energy. Let that sink in.
The entirety of “you” is a set of systems completely unaware of each other and will straight fucking kill you to produce at a maximum level. Ask anybody with Ciliac disease, or any other autoimmune disease. But, is Celiac you? No. Is your immune system you? No. Is your pain you? No, no, no. Paradoxically, once you realize there is no you, you can function very well indeed. Listening to those systems can change the quality of perception, thus change your entire life.
I am the evidence.