My mentor has frequently used the phrase, “train before you need it.” I’ve taken that to heart, and I have frequently felt that I have had just enough training to take on the next challenge of my life when the need arises.
Never has this been more true than between late 2002 and early 2004. I am paraplegic, and I have periodically dealt with a common complication for people with paralysis - decubitus ulcers, or “pressure sores.” These are similar to the bedsores that elderly people can develop, but, in this case, an otherwise very healthy individual can experience tissue breakdown due to the lack of sensation and circulation in the area affected by paralysis. Over this period of time, I spent a total of over a year lying in hospital beds due to surgeries and complications resulting from these sores.
Being in a hospital for months at a time can be a very unsettling experience. Getting poked and prodded by nurses at all hours of the day and night and not having the faintest clue when I might get out was stressful, to say the least.
Thank God for my training. At the time of my first hospitalization, I was deeply immersed in meditation, breathwork and movement training, attempting to do the impossible - to use the power of my mind and body to become able-bodied again. I felt deep disappointment at having my modest progress derailed by this unanticipated problem. Rather than feeling my body healing, I was witnessing it lying completely motionless all day and night for months at a time.
My mind went wild with the lack of positive and productive structures in my life. I would spend hours alternating between watching horrible daytime TV, reading and watching the second hand on the clock go around. Had my mind alone been the deciding factor in my sanity, I would’ve lost the battle. But through my training, I was able to see that who I was was not the subject of the experience that I was having. Rather, I was the witness, the pure awareness of my mind and body.
There is a common misperception about meditation that it is about “getting rid of your thoughts.” This is an absurd goal, because even the notion that one needs to get rid of one’s thoughts is, itself, a thought. Meditation has only one goal, to separate the observer from that which is being observed; to experience awareness as independent of any given thought or feeling. It is finding the calm eye (or I) of the storm, where there is only you the observer watching from a peaceful center as the chaos of the outside world unfolds around you.
While this period was the most extreme for me in terms of the extent of my time in hospitals, it was not the only period. In fact, I’ve spent over two years of my life in hospital beds and close to two additional years healing in bed at home. The mindfulness practices that I have used have made all the difference between experiencing myself as a victim and finding the blessings that have been waiting there in disguise.
Train before you need it.
Sam Morris is a fantastic Warrior Addict Brand Warrior. For more information about Sam, please visit his Brand Warrior page here