{NHBPM Day 2} “May I be peaceful…”

Find a quote and use it as inspiration. 

“May I be peaceful.

May I have ease of well-being.

May I reach the end of suffering…

And be free.”

This quote comes from the book I just finished by Toni Bernhard called How to Be Sick. It was recommended to me by one of the members of the chronic illness support group I’m in, and I immediately went out and bought it.

The book is a guide to mentally dealing with a chronic illness using Buddhist-inspired ideas. Bernhard has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and she writes with the authenticity only a person dealing with a chronic illness can have as she discusses how she came to terms with her illness (which came on suddenly for her; she never recovered from a virus she contracted on the way to a two-week vacation in France, and those two weeks turned out to be the beginning of her new life with CFS) through her meditation and Buddhist practices.

I love spirituality. I love talking about other people’s spirituality, and I love figuring out my own, so I was game to learn how I could apply Buddhist teachings to my life, and I was not disappointed. This book was so refreshing because Bernhard used the Buddhist teachings as tools to achieving a realistic mindset about chronic illness, not as a cure-all for illness or even for hating one’s illness. She says several times that despite her nearly 40 years of twice-daily meditation practice, she still has moments of feeling miserable and helpless, and reassured her readers that those desperate, deep, dark moments are ok. If anything, I learned to accept the emotional roller coaster that is accepting my EDS as normal, and even framing it that way has helped me quite a bit.

Now for the quotation: I’ve taken this mantra directly from the book, and have written it on a notecard propped up on my desk. I repeat it to myself every time I sit down or pass by, and I’m starting to commit it to memory to repeat to myself throughout the day. The goal of this mantra is to focus on mental suffering, not physical suffering–I can’t will my body to hurt less, but I can help ease the worries and fears of my mind that contribute to so much of my daily suffering. There’s an entire chapter on suffering in the book that I can’t possibly do justice to thirty minutes before Day 2 of NHBPM is officially over, so I will stop here and encourage you to read it for yourself.

May you, reader, be peaceful, may you have ease of well-being, may you reach the end of suffering, and may you be free.

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