Laughing and crying, you know it's the same release. Joni Mitchell

Laughing and crying, you know it's the same release. Joni Mitchell

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Cure for Fibromyalgia? Do Nothing!

Dr. Ming Wu
According to my Tai Chi instructor, Dr. Ming Wu, conditions like fibromyalgia, asthma, and chronic pain are all in your mind. That's not to say that these conditions are not real, or that they are psychosomatic, but rather that they are controlled by the brain. Dr. Wu said that an ailment of the body, like a broken leg, needs treatment by a doctor or hospital, but curing an ailment of the mind, like fibromyalgia, is easy - simply do nothing. When we are controlled by our minds, we are either obsessing about the past or worrying about the future. To do nothing means to live in the moment. To live in our bodies and not in our minds. To live effortlessly. An accomplished practitioner of Tai Chi, like Dr. Wu, can achieve all this. Tai Chi becomes a moving meditation in which the mind is disengaged and the body takes over. As Dr. Wu says, it's simple but not easy. It takes discipline and practice.

Dr. Wu also introduced me to the concept of "monkey-mind," which Wikipedia describes as "a Buddhist term meaning 'unsettled; restless; capricious; whimsical; fanciful; inconstant; confused; indecisive; uncontrollable'." This is not the way to "do nothing."

If you get out of your mind and into your body, the pain goes away.  ~ Dr. Ming Wu

Dr. Wu used a few examples from the movie Kung Fu Panda.  After the Furious Five are defeated by their enemy, Master Shifu decides Po is ready to receive the Dragon Scroll, which is said to hold the secret to limitless power. But when Po unrolls the scroll he reveals nothing but a blank surface. The secret is "nothing!" 

 Dr. Wu also quoted Oogway, the wise master tortoise:
"Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. But today is a gift, and that is why it's called the present."
I understand exactly what Dr. Wu means. When I'm writing or painting, I loose myself in the joy of it. I get into the zone and loose total track of time. And I'm certainly not thinking about my pain or how tired I am! Being in the moment is energizing and takes me away from my illness, even if it's just for a little while.

One of my classmates in Tai Chi suggested a book called How To Be Sick--A Buddhist's Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers by Toni Bernhard. I haven't read it, but it sounds interesting. Bernhard has chronic fatigue syndrome and writes about dealing with a chronic condition from a Buddhist perspective.

Touched by Lyme reviews How To Be Sick on Amazon:
This book is not about how to get sick or how to stay sick. It's about how to "be" when you are sick. How to have a worthwhile existence, finding meaning, purpose and joy, even when chronic illness seems to have stolen your life away.
Bernhard also uses a technique developed by Bryon Katie for re-framing negative thoughts called "The Work." Katie asks these four questions to "turnaround" negative thoughts:

Step 1 Is it true?

Step 2 Can you absolutely know that it's true?

Step 3 How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?

Who would you be without the thought?

That's a lot of information to digest: living in the moment; doing "nothing"; monkey mind; re-framing negative thoughts - but I hope it helps you get through another day!
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