Bends In the Wire

Today, after a wonderful but exhausting day of teaching, I hopped in my car and zipped up I-270 to jolly old Worthington. And what was the auspicious occasion? There is usually only one reason for me to go to Worthington…to see the Orthodontist!

We are getting near to the end of my two-year ordeal, the very one that has changed my life. Four weeks ago, at my last visit, Dr. Brandon Cook (who I’ve ended up seeing for the last few visits) scheduled me for de-banding on October 6th. I knew that wasn’t going to happen–believe me, I am very familiar with the position of the teeth in my head, and I knew that we were not nearly done.

I was right.

I had a lovely conversation with my assistant, Sara, about everything. I mean everything. She did an excellent job of making note of every concern I had–one tooth that was too low, molars that are still tipped, my elastic configuration. I know a lot more about adult orthodontics than I ever cared to know before I began this journey!

Well, once Sara starts working on me, I just relax into the chair (you know what that means!) and focused on some nine-year-old in the next chair over, jabbering away about a movie that she had just seen! It completely takes my mind off of what Sara was doing in my mouth, which actually didn’t bother me much, compared to what came later! Before I knew it, there was Dr. Cook, and I greeted him with my usual big smile, quickly followed by my litany of concerns. Well, he was really listening. And the next thing I know, the tool is in his hands, and he’s going at my lower archwire like a pro (which he is) while I’m listening to silly little miss nine-year-old doing what nine-year-olds do when they obsess about anything. And I say to Dr. Cook, “you know, I didn’t know I would get so much free entertainment.” And I look up at him, with that archwire in his hand, and he sort of smiles, but is staying focused on the work, thank goodness. In a flash he plunks it down on the tray, and starts talking to Sara, instructing her about what to do (lots of that I don’t remember…hmmm), and then he shakes my hand and leaves her to it. Then I finally get a good look at the archwire that looks like a rollercoaster, and realize that it will soon go in my mouth. And it does. Ouch. For a minute, I wonder if I can endure it, and Sara even stops, and asks if I am OK. I answer honestly: “no.” There’s nothing she can do, though, so I set out to do the work myself. As I lay there in the chair, feeling this self-inflicted agony, I say to myself, what if I could strip away everything attached to this pain, and just experience the pain, nothing else? What would happen? Immediately, I discover a shift when I do. In a couple of minutes, even though Sara is no longer asking, I say to her, “I’m OK,” in that muffled sort of foreign-objects-in-your-mouth way. By the time she is done, It is definitely not unbearable. I still notice it, but amazingly, it is just pain. And just pain is no problem.

And I’m wondering if you’ve ever thought about that? There are a million different applications for that thought in your life, now aren’t there?

So, as you find yourself run up against something that is hurting, just stop for a minute. And see all the stuff that has somehow attached itself to that experience. Now just calmly observe it, and watch now as it all slips away, and all you are left with is what is right now…and you can rest in that…

Humprey and I agree, it’s all good.

Be well, and at peace,


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One Comment on “Bends In the Wire”

  1. Bridget McKenna Says:

    Brilliant discovery, Phil! So much of the pain we think we feel is actually the trauma and anxiety associated with the pain. When we can do away with that (and you know many ways to do that now, do you not?), what’s left is a sensation.

    Furthermore, and this can be huge for doing pain work (got this from Michael Perez, who’s forgotten more brain science than I’ll ever know): Pain _does not actually exist, anywhere in your body_. There’s a part of your brain that mimics your entire body and everything in it. I have inconveniently forgotten its real name, but it’s sometimes called the “homunculus.” – the “little man.” The pain exists as a marker on the homunculus to let you know in consciousness that something in the corresponding part of the body needs attending to. So the sensation we feel, even after we’ve stripped away the trauma and anxiety, is _not actually real_. Spooky and kinda cool, innit?

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