I feel so relaxed today, deep in my body, that a quick scan of the past doesn't turn up a comparison. Better than Valium, I think. Better than the phenobarbital I was given at one time for irritable bowel syndrome - that's when your gut can't stand the way you're living or, maybe, who you're living with. A relaxation as good as what I used to feel after doing yin yoga with Kit. That good.
The source of this peace and freedom from anxiety seems to be getting good lab results yesterday. Of the various things they check in my blood every month, two figures stand out: hemoglobin and eGFR. Hg is easy, red blood cells. My poor little kidneys are still producing enough of the hormone that makes them, no downward slide since the last test. Good news.
eGFR is something you probably don't know about unless your kidneys are failing - a number arrived at from plugging your creatinine into a formula. The number indicates about what percentage of kidneys you have left. Mine went up from 8 to 9 this month, not down. What a relief! (What is the new punctuation mark we're going to get that is a quiet sort of exclamation? I imagine the kids, texting, are going to invent it.) It means I don't have to get serious this month about preparing for dialysis.
Peace. It's wonderful. Wouldn't you think that 12-plus years meditating would make it possible for a person to call it forth at any time? I would have thought that, but it turns out not to be true in my case.
Americans underrate Karma, in my opinion. I mean, the reality that our personal will is not in charge, that a great many causes go into making us act the way we do. I wonder, if I had an identical twin turn up, would she be like me in myriad small ways? A person who tends to throw her clothes down instead of hanging them up, say. Or who has to try hard to be punctual. Who gets anxious about things when being anxious doesn't help a bit.
Anxiety is a lot like anger that way, I think. That is, it doesn't do any good, and in fact, probably gets in the way of a good outcome. But my experience is that anger has been easier to work with. Practice has impacted my tendency to get angry until these days I don't get mad. I may feel frustrated, but I can let that dissolve, the way you let stories dissolve when you're meditating.
My anxiety though exists on a deeper level. Maybe I need to do a Chod practice that has helped me with other things - sit down with that anxiety, personify it, name it (Ann Gzieti?), and give it what it needs. That's a serious full-bore approach.
The things I've done up till now have certainly taken it down quite a few notches. Yet, talking to myself about how dialysis is just a medical treatment, telling myself that it won't be what I imagine - nothing is - reminding myself that anxiety will not hold off reality - these intellectual strategies just involve the left brain. They have not gone to the deep layer of self or body where that kind of anxiety resides. Maybe it is something innate, a fear that is natural to us as vulnerable animals. Maybe I only notice it's still there because I meditate, and have become more sensitive to my feelings. Maybe, maybe.
There turned out to be a sure cure for my anxiety, the way there is a cure for the panic you feel when you dream you are confronted with a test in a subject you know nothing about. That is, to wake up. The anxiety was also a sort of dream running in the way-back movie theatre of my mind, and the way to stop it was to for reality to step forth and present good lab results. I couldn't make that happen, but here it is, a gift from a personal karma that has kept these faltering kidneys working for years longer than predicted. Last night I slept an amazing 11 hours. Today I feel the gratitude in my abdomen.
It is snowing here in Ohio, a persistent fall of small flakes, vertical, no wind. We are expected to get several more inches. I don't plan to go out today. My Appalachian friend might add, "the good Lord willing an' the creek don't rise." That is, we'll see what karma brings.