In the past few years along with an MS diagnosis I have also had the joy of being diagnosed as suffering from cluster migraines. Any of you out there that have had the sheer pleasure of experiencing a cluster of migraines understand where I’m coming from when I say “go to your hiding place.” For the rest of you here’s a quick explanation, “The term "headache" does not adequately convey the severity of the condition; “the disease may be the most painful condition known to medical science.” (Matharu) In short it feels like a red hot iron is stabbing through your eye and exploding out the back of your head. Not a good feeling and considering that during my last flare up I had nearly 70 attacks in a week, I needed something that would help me out while I waited for the meds to fight back.
This is how I got into meditation without even knowing it. While waiting for the headache to kick in I would prepare to “ride the wave of pain” and see if I could ride it out until it passed. Surfing and riding the waves make it seem glamorous; it’s probably more like holding onto a tree during an avalanche. Either way I would hunker down and pick a nice dark color, usually black or blue (fitting) and try to keep it as the only thought in my mind. Slowly breathing in deeply and fully exhaling all the while letting the storm go on around me while I tried to hide or hang on. Sometimes it worked. Other times I wasn’t strong enough and needed to be medicated or taken to the hospital.
When the opportunity arose to enroll in a meditation class given by the University of Michigan it was here that I learned that I had been meditating all along. I was given great guidance by our leader Martha and taught how to “"be awake inside without being aware of anything except awareness itself." Being aware of my mind has helped me be aware of my body as it is affected by MS too.
If you don't have the opportunity or time to attend a meditation class, check out this link for a website that has free online classes, so you can teach yourself and meditate in the convenience of your own home. http://www.onlinemeditation.org/meditation-class-1/
As I continue on my journey I am reminded of the mantra that I’ve picked up along the way. It is fitting for any MS warrior and it may help you through a time of pain or sadness. “At the core of my being I am silent. I am strong. I am one with the whole earth. I am the mountain.” Fight on!
Be a Warrior Today,
Matharu M, Goadsby P (2001). "Cluster Headache". Practical Neurology
A Bit About Donn: Donn is 38 years old and was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS in 2010. He lives with his wife and son in Plymouth, MI.