Attitudes for Living Well with Illness Shunyamala is a Wellness Coach who works one-on-one with people experiencing chronic pain or stress in their lives. She says: “Through years of managing my own chronic auto-immune illness I have learned effective, authentic, holistic ways to soothe the roller-coaster challenges that being out of balance in our bodies and in our minds can bring.” Many people have asked me "How do you do it? How do you have a smile on your face and good humor while dealing with autoimmune issues day in and day out?" Most of the time I fumble something like "This is the way it is” or “I have no other choice." On further reflection, I can see that I often am using the Breathworks concepts that I learned a while ago and that in fact they serve me very, very well. So, I'll share some of my favorites that I have woven into my life, and that have made such a difference; 1. Start Where You AreFull-heartedly turning toward where you are before you decide where you are going. Take some time to listen in and honestly assess how you are feeling before forcing your way, forcing your body, to perform out in the world. Sometimes this can be painfully emotional and yet this is where authentic healing happens. I may even decide to postpone my plans. Permission to do less. It sounds obvious and yet, in the past, I’ve relied on sheer will-power to get me through. Being accepting of where you are is a healthier, smarter alternative. What would make it easier? 2. Listening To Your BodyWhen listening in or settling in for a meditation, pay attention to the breath in the back of the body, the sides of the body, as well as how your body breathes in the front. Being so forward-centric many of us only think of the body in terms of its front - the face, the heart, the belly. And it is the back of the body that protects us, supports us, that is a force for stabilizing. Keying into the back of the body naturally sends a message of support and self-care. And hey, our bodies like these messages! What is it you would really like your body to know? 3. You Can Always Look for the PositiveThere is always the possibility to look for the positive - and this is not some sugar-coated theory. Even in extreme pain, in a dire situation, there is more happening than what may be grabbing your attention. As you relax, see if you can expand, rather than tighten around the pain, to what else you are feeling. Perhaps the sense of stillness as you calm the mental negative chatter. What else is happening now? 4. Honor the Rest Your Body NeedsHonor the rest your body needs before it gets too stressed and strained under pressure. Vidyamala refers to this as pacing. It is a way of saving your body from stress, rather than managing the stress after it has already happened. Bodies that are already compromised in some way do not like stress in any form or manner. For me rest is the best medicine I can give myself. What is it that allows your body to thrive? Whether it is illness or anxiety that is creating your stressful pain, Vidyamala’s book "Mindfulness for Health", is full of wisdom and ideas that can shine a lighted path forward. The guided meditations included in the book are an invitation to listen in for that healing place in your body. I share these with many of my coaching clients as we all have times that are painful. Albeit some of us more than others. Instead of pushing away what seems to be the source of the discomfort it is the turning towards that can create more possibilities of connection and health. Shunya You can learn more about Shunyamala and her work at HeartWisdom Coaching or contact her directly at [email protected] Shunyamala is also a Buddhist practitioner and teacher and member of the Triratna Buddhist Order, practicing at the San Francisco Buddhist Center.