The Shift to Spaciousness

I spent the first day in a state of complete despair. One drop of the medicine was all it took and I was reeling, energy levels plummeting, brain fog increasing; the flu-like symptoms took a hold of me quickly and without mercy. I couldn’t stop crying that first day. The task ahead of me seemed beyond daunting, it seemed to ask more of me than I could possibly summon. How was I going to do this for another day, or week, let alone for six months?

I had started one drop of the two anti-microbial herbs for Lyme treatment. These herbs were potent beyond belief and within five minutes of taking that first drop I felt as though I had injected myself with some merciless flu. As everyone healing from Lyme knows all too well, killing the Lyme is way harder than just hosting it in your body. As the Lyme infection begins to die it releases bio-toxins and neuro-toxins that poison the body causing a host of symptoms including extreme cognitive impairment, brain-fog, chills, profound exhaustion, and flu-like malaise. Despair, depression, anxiety, and other ‘dark emotions’ are also often part of this process. The die-off reaction, or ‘herx’ as it’s called in the Lyme community, is the truly excrutiating part of the Lyme healing process. It makes the ‘other days’ when I'm not killing the Lyme feel like a walk in the park. The task ahead is to increase these potent herbs from 1 drop to 120 drops per day as steadily as my system can handle—the estimated time frame is 6 months. Moving too quickly in this process is dangerous and I’ve been warned that heart failure and coma can be caused by too many of these die-off toxins being released in the body at one time.

The second day was different. When the rush-of-yuck came after the one drop I moved closer to myself instead of trying to push it and myself away. I’m not sure why but I was able to release resistance and thoughts of the journey ahead and I arrived fully in the present moment. I was able to take refuge in my own heart presence. I softened and held a spacious container for my undergoing. Instead of bracing myself against the discomfort, I opened to it and to myself in a new and mysterious way. The results were nothing short of miraculous. I created a safe space for myself to attend to all that was arising in me and to love myself through it. One breath at a time, I stopped everything to just be with myself the way I would be present my sick child. One breath at a time, I held my body in my own soul-presence and heart-light. One breath at a time, I stopped trying to distract myself from what was going on, I stopped attempting to ‘have a normal day’, or carry-on ‘as usual’. Each time the sensations became overwhelming I gave my undivided attention to them and to myself.

I didn’t shed a single tear that second day or the third day either. I even felt grateful for my healing and was able to open to grace and to trust the process. In this spaciousness, in the leaning into the discomfort, it began to feel more manageable and even dissipated. My pain, in this more spacious container, was bearable as though my presence and heart-light diluted its intensity. I remembered that my true nature, my inner witness is whole, and unaffected by this strange human undergoing. I took refuge in the timelessness of presence itself—that unchanging me that lives behind and through all the happenings.

Artwork by Ntieyko
Why am I telling you all this? 

We all have the tendency to resist what we ‘don’t want’ and to move away and distract ourselves from the discomfort we feel. Most of you reading this probably don’t have Lyme and if you made it through the Lyme talk earlier and are still reading I want to remind you of this: it often takes more energy to resist the pain than to be with it—whatever that pain is. I believe that we are each able to use our life challenges to become more whole and I’m learning that doing this requires ‘being with’ what is gritty and uncomfortable instead of turning away. 

In the light of presence, like alchemy, we transmute pain and discomfort into compassion, kindness, and in turn greater wholeness to gift forward into the world.
A wise friend of mine shared with me recently a profound tale of a master and his suffering student. The master had the student put a spoonful of salt in a cup and take a sip. He then asked his student how it tasted. The student took a sip and said it tasted very strong, unbearably salty. The master then took his student to the shores of a lake and had him put a spoonful of salt into the lake and then proceeded to ask him to take a sip. The student took a sip of the lake water and told him that he couldn’t taste the salt at all. The master told the apprentice, ““The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains the same, exactly the same. But the degree to which we taste the ‘pain’ depends on the container we put it into. When you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things. Stop being a glass. Become a lake.”

In my undergoing, shifting into my heart-space and into presence holds the greater space in which my challenging process becomes manageable. Perhaps you also have a strong-tasting discomfort that would be easier managed in a more spacious container of your own making. 

I’m not sure how the fourth, or the fifth day of this healing journey will go but I do know that when I stay in my heart and in the present moment it all seems doable—not only doable but also grace-filled. Holding spacious presence is an ongoing, moment-by-moment practice, not a quick fix or one time solution. We can, however, choose this practice everyday, one breath at a time.

2014 © Marie-Ève Bonneau