Brand New: The Power of Vow

For reviews, see the Media section of the site. The 12-Step Buddhist is also available on Powell's, Barnes and Noble, Snow Lion and other online resources.

Grab a copy for yourself and a family member, co-worker, sponsor, therapist or spiritual teacher. Anyone who knows an addict should read this book.

ORDER NOW

12-Step Buddhist GEAR

Tibetan Incense

This is where I get mine. For some reason just the scent of this amazing incense puts me right into a meditation space.

When I was a child I suffered from agonizing migraines. They were so bad that I’d vomit just to feel some relief. My parents both smoked and the irritation likely contributed. An Eye, Nose,Ears and Throat specialist, as they were called, gave me shots of liquid cocaine straight up into my sinus cavities. These helped temporarily. As a young adult my own smoking, drinking and drug abuse exacerbated the headaches. The only solution then was more hair of the dog that bit me, so to speak, which in the end made things worse-much worse.

These days I don’t get sick very often. But when I do it seems all the trauma and memories of past pains surge to the surface with incomprehensible intensity. As I have mentioned in the 12-Step Buddhist, I also suffer from post-hallucinogenic perceptual disorder. That means that when I get sick, stressed or fevered my internal landscape becomes a field of confusing light noise. It can be crippling. Ibuprofen and rest can help, but I often need to work with deeper practices on what Tibetans call subtle energy levels.

With many tools available, I’m still a big fan of the barn door approach. So take the medicine, drink lots of good water, have a massage-do what all you can to feel better. Below is a meditative prescription which I’ve used many times with excellent results. If you feel stressed, pained, overwhelmed or have a sick headache, try this. Let me know how it works in the comments, or email if you prefer. If the way it’s written doesn’t quite work for you, feel free to modify this practice to suit your needs and inclinations. The right way is the way which works for you.

If possible, sit with your back straight. However if you are bedridden you can still try this-just try not to be twisted if possible. Close your eyes-unless it’s overwhelming. Spend a few moments allowing your awareness to go where it needs to go. Don’t fight sensations. Breathe in deep and slow. Exhale completely and let yourself be empty for as long as you’re comfortable. When powerful sensations arise, thank them. Just whisper, “Thank you.” This will change your relationship to suffering. If sound is too much, think it. If thought is too much, feel it. Allow gratitude. Open a little to what the sensation can teach you about what is unreal, who you are and what you are not. Pause here for as long as you wish. Suspend exertion. Relieve strain. Let go. This stage can be repeated before proceeding. If you feel that more is needed, move to the next practice.

Imagine that you are made of energy, because you are made of energy. Notice where the flow of energy might be constricted in this moment. If visualization is possible, try to imagine your network of nerve circuitry. The way it appears when you think of it is the way to work with the visualization. It should be natural, not contrived. Imagine the thousands of tiny channels which bring energy and sensation throughout your being. The color of these minuscule channels can appear as you feel, but for healing I suggest blue. But work with what comes up-don’t struggle. Notice-with whatever sense it arises, sight, smell, sound-where your universal life energy is obstructed. Feel it, see it, hear it it if you can. Mostly just know the location as precisely as you can. If it’s a sharp pain, this awareness may come quickly. Dull aches may call for a more global approximation. Work with what arises. Next, ask for help.

If you get sick often and are in severe pain, are unable to speak or have memory problems, consider making a recording of the following prayer or one of your own creation. Perhaps a friend can help. Use a soft voice or ask your friend or your nurse to read this for you. Above all, ask for and be open to receive the Wisdom, however it comes.

All medicine gurus, Buddhas and blue-bodied light healers be Present, here and now where you are needed. I call upon your promise to help suffering beings like me. Bless me with your healing light. At least allow me the wisdom and presence to bear this pain without making it worse. Help me see the true condition of my spiritual being, beyond physical limitations. Be with me here, now. I need you.

Let your imagination work freely in whatever way is natural. Let healing occur at the deepest levels and in the ways it needs to happen. Perhaps you can see or feel soft, gentle healing hands un-working knots in your qi/chi/ki/prana (vital life energy). Maybe the blue, healing light falls like warm raindrops on to your psychic and physical wounds, like a gentle wash of balming medicine. Let the medicine come, from whatever direction and in whatever form it gets to you. That is right, just now, in this moment. Listen for the sound of healing bowls, vibrating at the frequency that you need to restore balance to your energy system. Perhaps a recording of shamanic or Tibetan or other healing sounds would help. You can find these on iTunes, etc. Allow your senses to be open. Recall the smell of your favorite things, flowers, herbs, your child’s hair or baby shampoo, your dog’s breath. If you can, bring some essential oil into the healing session or ask someone to rub some in their hands near your face. Imagine the healing hands of enlightened beings giving healing warmth all over your physical body.

Allow healing. Allow gratitude for the experience, for the blessings. Rest here in this space.