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Get regular access to valuable information on meditation that you can use to improve the quality of your health and life. They also help organize the general flow of information in the brain.Better control of these rhythms enables meditators to bias their attention away from negative states like chronic pain and depression. A regular meditation practice will help you overcome debilitating pain without medication, so give it a try. It revolves around a woman named Kisa Gotami, who lived during the time of Buddha’s life when he had already achieved nirvana and was traveling to impart his teachings upon others.“Kisa’s only child, a very young son, had died. Unwilling to accept his death, she carried him from neighbor to neighbor and begged for someone to give her medicine to bring him back to life. One of her neighbors told her to go to Buddha, located nearby, and ask him if he had a way to bring her son back to life.Bringing the body of her son with her, Kisa found Buddha and pleaded with him to help bring her son back to life.
He instructed her to go back to her village and gather mustard seeds from the households of those who have never been touched by the death. From those mustard seeds, he promised he would create a medicine to bring her son back to life.
Relieved, she went back to her village and began asking her neighbors for mustard seeds.All of her neighbors were willing to give her mustard seeds, but they all told her that their households had been touched by death. They told her, “the living are few, but the dead are many.”As the day became evening and then night, she was still without any of the mustard seeds that she had been instructed to collect. According to the Buddhist verse her story comes from, she said:“It’s not just a truth for one village or town, Nor is it a truth for a single family. But for every world settled by gods [and men] This indeed is what is true — impermanence” (Olendzki, 2010).
All living beings are of such a nature that they must die whether they reach old age or not.”As early-ripening fruits are in danger of falling, so mortals when born are always in danger of dying. Both young and old, both those who are foolish and those who are wise – all fall into the power of death, all are subject to death.Of those who depart from this life, overcome by death, a father cannot save his son, nor relatives their kinsfolk.
While relatives are looking on and lamenting, one by one the mortals are carried off like oxen to the slaughter. Such are the terms of the world.Not from weeping nor from grieving will anyone obtain peace of mind. He who has removed this unwholesome arrow and has calmed himself will obtain peace of mind. Verily, he who has conquered grief will always be free from grief – sane and immune – confident, happy, and close to Nirvana, I say” (Allen, 1991).Kisa entered the first stage of enlightenment from her experience.
She decided to become a disciple of Buddha’s and went on to become the first female arahant.”(This version comes from here)Having learned that there is no such mustard seed, I approached my own experiences not as something unique, but as something that others have experienced, better, worse or the same. Right after the August 18, 2014 surgery, I was first moved to a recovery room and then to a hospital room. Before being released from the hospital, I could hear loud cries of pain from other patients and I practiced tonglen for them, wishing that their pain would be absorbed by me and that they would be free of physical pain, paradoxically releasing my own pain in the process.The Lotus Grows from the Mud.

Because I was immobilized for long periods of time, without adequate sleep (a common side-effect for patients who have total hip replacement surgery), or lying down with feet elevated to reduce the edema and other swelling from the surgery and the complications in my left leg), I was physically isolated by necessity. The simple truth is that appreciation (gratitude) enters as the self dissolves, and as the self dissolves, everything becomes clear.Hakuin Ekaku (1686-1769) traveled from Japan to China and there earned the Butter Pill meditation from a Taoist master.
Below is a translation of Hakuin’s instruction:“There is a remedy especially efficacious for debilitated people.
Season with a dash of the six perfections then shape everything into a ball the size of a duck’s egg and set it securely on your head.Practitioners who are just beginning their study should not concern themselves with the properties of the medicine nor the amount used, but should merely contemplate the fact that a delicately scented soft butter-like object the size of a duck’s egg is suddenly on their heads.
When a sick person wishes to use this remedy he (or she) should spread for himself a thick cushion, hold his back straight, adjust his eyes, and sit in a correct posture. When the breath is exhausted the body dies.’ By doing so, one can truly carry out this contemplation. Those who have this duck egg with the consistency of soft butter on their heads feel a strange sensation as the whole head becomes moist.
The shoulders, elbow, chest, diaphragm, lungs, liver, stomach, backbone, and buttocks all gradually become damp.
At this time the various accumulations in the chest, and those of lower back pain, stiffness and constipation all drop down at will, like water flowing naturally to a low place.
This sensation is felt throughout the body, and it circulates moving downward, warming the legs, until it reaches the soles of the feet, where it stops.
The overflow that penetrates downward sinks in and accumulates until it steeps the body in warmth, just as a good physician gathers together various aromatic herbs, brews them, and pours the concoction into the bath. When this contemplation is being practiced, because it is induced only by mental activity, the sense of smell becomes aware of exotic odors, the sense of touch becomes wondrously acute, and the body and mind become attuned. Suddenly the accumulations dissolve, the bowels and stomach are harmonized, the skin becomes radiant, and the energies increase greatly. If this contemplation is conscientiously brought to maturation, what disease cannot be cured, what magical art cannot be performed? This is indeed the secret method for maintaining health, the wondrous art of longevity.This treatment was first devised by Shakamuni Buddha. In the middle ages it came down through the Tendai school, where it was used widely as a treatment for extreme exhaustion. When I was in my middle years I heard of it from the hermit Hakuyu, who maintained that the speed of its efficacy lay only in the degree to which the practitioner endeavored. For me, I discovered a few years ago, that if I have any trouble falling asleep at night, I could begin Hakuin’s Butter Pill Meditation and in under a minute, fall asleep. During the 18 months of pain, this continued to be true.The Butter Pill practice as a cooling practice. One more medical complication occurred in July 2015 when the legs went through a staph infection that was successfully treated with antibiotics by my doctor. The skin on my legs were so painful and tender from the infection and afterwards that even hot air was painful. I decided to use the Hakuin Butter Pill meditation differently, substituting for the warm butter egg with an ice-cold healing elixir when my legs became painful.
In the Adam Sandler movie, “The Waterboy,” he is resurrected at a critical moment in the last game with ice cold pure water from a special flask that preserved all of the water’s healing properties.

In a way, the same transformation of pain took place with this derivative version of the Butter Pill Meditation.Other Gratitude Practices. In my own life, I’ve adopted a number, including smiling, laughing, reading encouraging and inspiring words, expressly verbally gratitude, and balancing every turn of the mind that brings up a negative with a positive. Over years of practice, my awareness of the negative mind and its appearance automatically starts a conscious awareness of what is already good.
I’m especially grateful for practices that makes each day appreciated and the world appear with all of its polarities, rather than only the world of discontent and complaint.One of my practices is to be surrounded by reminders of gratitude in wall hangings or post cards, or on my desktop computer, or even in my mobile. Since my mind can be faulty in memories or lazy in thinking, reminders blast away the negative. The Heart Sutra and Emptiness of Self: The Heart Sutra encompasses all the teachings of the Buddha in a few short verses, including the “emptiness” of self. In thirteen years of practice, I found that I am not an empty self when I am filled with self and all of its manifestations: selfishness, self-centeredness, self-seeking, driven by ego. The 18 months period of pain became another living example for me that there is pain, and there is pain. In the former case, I can ensure that I have ratcheted-up amplified pain by being filled with “self.” In the latter case, there is space and boundless capacity for all possibilities in this very moment, including the reduction of pain. He hears something behind him and sees a tiger running after him, so the monk runs until he comes to an edge of a deep gash in the earth.
He climbs over one lip, hanging on to rotted old roots and the tiger reaches the top and snarls at him. Below him, he sees a second hungry tiger and above him, he sees two rats chewing away at the roots holding him up. The monk then notices a fresh ripened strawberry with reach and with one hand holding on to the roots, he uses his other hand to pluck the strawberry, which he smells and then eats, exclaiming “Ah!”During my 18 months of pain and disabilities, I always found that strawberry (metaphorically).
The Turtle and the Wooden Ring.“Every spiritual tradition has stressed that this human life is unique and has a potential that ordinarily we don’t even begin to imagine. If we miss the opportunity this life offers us for transforming ourselves, they say, it may well be an extremely long time before we have another. To be born a human being is said by Buddhists to be more difficult than for that turtle to surface accidentally with its head poking through the wooden ring. And even among those who have a human birth, it is said, those who have the great good fortune to make a connection with the teachings are rare, and those who really take them to heart and embody them in their actions even rarer—as rare, in fact, “as stars in broad daylight.”The quality of life in the realm of the gods may look superior to our own, yet the masters tell us that human life is infinitely more valuable. Because of the very fact that we have the awareness and intelligence that are the raw materials for enlightenment, and because the very suffering that pervades this human realm is itself the spur to spiritual transformation. If the moment between the time the rats chew through the roots and the fall into the jaws of a waiting tiger is a lifetime from birth to death, and if birth is rare and precious (as it is), then Dukkha doesn’t have in permeate every moment with amplified pain.That is where freedom is found, in our own abilities to transform.
In a separate 2014 blog, I wrote about some of these same practices and other spiritual tools with other common forms of Dukkha in a blog titled “Are you screaming at me? My gratitude was reflected back to me in a fortune cookie that was given to me during the lunch break from the meditation retreat on January 31, 2016.

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