Hope for Health

Yesterday I went to a Buddhist training course. The training courses usually have a format where you break into small groups and discuss based on study or some questions. It ends up being quite an organic discussion process. When I started practising, I used to find this format quite unnerving. I enjoyed lectures more and it wasn’t my style to share my life with people. In my view, I was there to learn, I didn’t see how that should relate to me sharing about my struggles.

Over time and with chanting and study, I realised that this stemmed from a deep sense of unworthiness about my own life. Inherently I felt that, I did not deserve to occupy space. That nobody wanted to hear what I have to say and that my words were not worthy and my experiences did not matter. In the last training course, I met a member who has now become a dear friend. Speaking to her made me realise the significance of my struggle. All my life suddenly seemed to make sense, that I was preparing and training to accumulate life experience to be able to encourage her through my continued struggle to win over my negativity.

Yesterday, I was the first one to jump up to share my view of the study when they asked for volunteers. So unusual for me. Usually I am a reluctant or fugitive ‘voluntold’ rather than an enthusiastic volunteer. I still fought through my negative mind mocking me for wanting attention or limelight.

Anyway, I digress. In my group study and discussion, I talked briefly about my continued struggle with health problems and how sometimes it becomes a masochistic practice where I feel my practice is significant because I am struggling. Another member mentioned how he had digestive problems for ten years but continued to pray with determination to overcome it. After ten year he found a doctor who fixed his problems. I asked for his doctor’s details. He advised me that she is very good and usually very busy that when I call her, I could expect a 3 month wait and can get on the appointment cancellation waiting list.

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Rising from the Ashes

In some sense I live the life of the mythical Phoenix. In my severe menstrual issues, I’m one person for a couple of weeks of the cycle and someone else for the rest. Then there’s the exhaustion and pain in the first half so you could say I get about ten good days in every cycle. Plus the length of each cycle could vary because the hormonal issues make it unpredictable too.

From ovulation until my period, I feel like I’m slowly sinking and then drowning. I’ve always had this. I can’t remember a time since I started having a period that this didn’t happen. Oh wait, right there was the time I was on the pill and while I suffered from wild side effects, I realised for the first time that I’m not an angry person. For that, I am grateful. At least I got to see a glimpse of an alternate me that was still me. Unfortunately, that didn’t last, the pill contributed to too many problems. It’s so strange they don’t tell you how badly it can alter your gut and actually make things so much worse when you go off it.

On Saturday I did everything right, I got enough sleep the night before, I went for a walk, I socialised, ate well. I struggled. I had trouble processing questions, stringing words together. I met with a friend – that’s brave of me- I have many a broken friendships attributed to my severe premenstrual symptoms. PMDD as it’s called.

Turns out one of the big causes is low serotonin, that’s made in the gut and regulates the gut too. The other cause is weak oxytocin receptors. Literally these mean, I’m trapped in not feeling love and joy. The thread tying these together is traumatic childhood experiences that lead to dysfunctional development of the neurobiology causing lifelong problems.

I can’t change my childhood or anything in the past. I can only make a determination in the present moment and keep renewing in each moment. And then from the phenomena of 3000 realms of a single moment of life, this starts to transform my life and reality.

This determination and redetermination is a constant struggle. Battle against how things are inside of me and developing a deep conviction for my life and the purpose of my existence.

In the Gosho study lecture I went to today, the leader said (and I paraphrase)

Karma is misunderstood. It is usually described as the description of your current reality. However, in our practice, Karma is our tendency.

When we have changed our tendency, we have changed our karma. And this manifests in a change in our reality in our life.

So simple and so profound. It is so hard to change my tendencies. It is so hard to know what’s to keep, what’s to change. It’s so hard to solve this problem using my brain, impossible when I’m underwater in the dark ocean struggling to breathe.

When I realised the difficulty, complexity and impossibility of this challenge today, I went into despair. Realising yesterday’s depression caused despair today. Realising the struggle of the last 3 weeks, caused fear of the future, of my next cycle. Sometimes I want to undergo a hysterectomy but then I worry what if I come out stuck in my depressed state not my happy state. Who knows which one is the real me.

I was deadlocked.

Then I messaged my best friend in the practice, who I know has more than an inkling of what it feels like. Her care, while traveling overseas with a small baby to see her in-laws started to shift my life. Her simple words of, yes, this is so unbelievably hard, remind me to acknowledge the depth of my struggle. Reminding myself of the depth, I realise that this is not a struggle that is forever sinking. The fact that I deadlocked and hit rock bottom today means I’ve reached the turning point.

That turning point is my determination. For me to appreciate and contribute no matter what. For me to respect my life no matter what. For now, I will do my citizenship test next week and then if I need to take time off, I will. My friend reminded me to not strategize. I have the Gohonzon, the wish granting jewel. I don’t need to give up one thing in life to get the other. That’s the bit President Ikeda said about having a lofty prayer.

This led me to chanting which further led to this determination.

The fight continues.

Struggle with Food Addiction – Part 1

I say part 1 on this post because I imagine it won’t be the last, who knows, maybe it will be a three part series like the Millennium Trilogy or a seven part series like Harry Potter. Clearly I love books 🙂

Nothing like a poor joke to make light of a serious subject. As I read in some of President Ikeda’s writing earlier this week:

In the midst of a genuinely desperate situation, he (President Toda) retained his sense of humour

– Indigo Magazine Jan 2018, page 30

Earlier this week when I really struggled to be able to manage my crazy rotation diet and sleep and work, I prayed with the determination that I must be able to do Gongyo, chant at least ten minutes, write here, have my food figured out and be able to get some sleep. For the last 3 weeks, sleeping at 2 am has really taken its toll on me.

Last night, I was ready to sleep at 9.30 pm. I still hadn’t written my blog or cooked lunch for today. I dragged my ass off the couch and somehow cooked and wrote. By the time I finished and got to sleep, it was 2 am again.

Oh wait I missed a step, after dragging myself off the couch, I ate. I ate even though I wasn’t hungry and had already eaten. It was a reward and emotional fuel to be able to do what needed to be done. I couldn’t do it without the emotional support food provided me.

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