Transcend Chronic Pain through the Practice of Gratitude

By: Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder, Dancing with Pain

February 7th, 2009 • Mind-Body MedicinePrint Print

Mornings are the worst.  I woke up today, as I usually do, with horrible pain – feeling that I can barely move.  I know that I have to do my routine in order to transcend this physical state: I need to take a scalding hot shower, eat breakfast, dance, do some physical therapy exercises, and then get out there into the world.

I am always amazed by the transformation that takes place. Before I begin, I feel as if I’m going to just be like this for the rest of my life, never mind the rest of my day. It takes a lot of mental discipline to do my practice anyhow.

But right now, mid-breakfast, I feel sad, crabby, and depressed.  I feel angry, no, outraged an exasperated, by all of the people and systems that effectively colluded in the demise of my body. Will I ever, ever return (or move forward) to a state where getting out of bed in the morning happens with ease and joy?  Where things as basic as standing, bending, and going downstairs to do not pose challenges to me?

I cannot change what happened to my body.  The wisdom that I have acquired since then is ineffective in repairing what was done – in the sense that I cannot go back in time and make it unhappen.  So I have to let it go, accept it, and move forward. And I cannot control the behavior or thinking of other people either.  So I have to let that go too.

What I can do is rejoice in the blessings and places of ease in my life.  So here is my partial list of gratitude for today, in alphabetical order (compliments of Microsoft Word):

  1. A whole bunch of shops and cafés are in walking distance.
  2. I am able to take care of all of my basic needs – grooming, cooking, etc. – without the help of an assistant.
  3. I am young, so there is time for change and transformation and healing.
  4. I feel.
  5. I get to work from home, which tremendously decreases the amount of pain and struggle I have to endure each day.
  6. I have a patio with privacy.
  7. I have a roof over my head.
  8. I have a strong spirit.
  9. I have an empty living room, where I can dance.
  10. I have figured out my own path for healing, so I am self-sufficient.
  11. I have food on my table.
  12. I have steady work during the time of a disastrous economy.
  13. I have the courage to buck the trend so as to be authentic.
  14. I like myself.
  15. I live biking distance from the beach.
  16. I live in a pretty neighborhood.
  17. I love my work.
  18. I think for myself.
  19. I’m always on my edge, challenging myself, and doing what I can to move in the direction I want to go.
  20. Most of the time, I am able to walk between one and two miles, despite pain or discomfort.
  21. Most of the time, my pain levels are low enough that I can bike to the beach.
  22. My apartment is full of light.
  23. My friends are extraordinary people who are deep and independent thinkers and who understand and value me.
  24. My mom has recuperated, which is a miracle.
  25. My strength has enabled me to recognize and get out of unhealthy relationships.

Thank you, Creator of all Beings, for these blessings, gifts, and sources of pleasure.



Comments

Lynn Latson February 14th, 2009

Loolwa,
What a fantastic website! A friend sent me the article in AARP. I have been suffering with chronic pain since a mastectomy in 2000. Dance has been my only exercise.
I’m going to change my morning routine to yours! I usually dance in the afternoon.
Thanks so much!
Lynn

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