I woke up last night with a splitting headache. It was doubtless a part of the bad cold or light flu I had been down with. Anyway, I did two things to fight it. I took headache tablets and massaged some CBD cream into my temples and scalp. Cannabis-based CBD products are now legal in Colorado. I already had bed hair, so who cared if I messed it up even more! Headache, ahem(!), trumped hair, so to speak. Shortly after l lay down again, the headache seemed to be releasing its grip. I fell asleep right away and woke up some hours later headache free. Praise the Lord!
Now, in the interest of full revelation, I had also been taking a Chinese herbal preparation called Coldsnap. My wife, Cedar, swears by it. So those pills may have played a role too. I can’t say. But my point is that sometimes it works well to approach a problem from both the inside and the outside. In this case, I took the headache tables but also smeared my head with the CBD cream. To be honest, I can’t remember a headache ever leaving me so quickly.
This from-both-sides approach seems to work in life too. Right now, for example, Fr. Richard Rohr, the wonderful New Mexico-based Franciscan Father, is writing his daily meditations on the Desert Fathers and Mothers, who left the decadence of the late Roman Empire and headed to the desert where they could be free of the distractions of the outer world and focus unimpeded on their inner spiritual development. Fr. Richard’s point, however, is that the real trick is to be able to live a contemplative life right in the midst of our daily worldly affairs. As the Buddhists say, we need to be in the world but not of it, like the fragrant water lily which rises pure and white from the fetid waters of a marsh.
I follow this both-sides approach in my own life. In spiritual matters, for example, I am both an avid, regular church-goer at our wonderful Episcopal church, St. John’s Boulder. But I also continue to practice my active meditation, Subud, twice weekly as I have done for nearly 60 years. Or let’s say in making decisions, both smaller and larger, I use my head to try to figure the pros and cons of different options before choosing one or the other. But I also try to get out of my head as one does in meditation and go inside for guidance. Here I follow a Subud practice called “testing,” in which one stands quietly, goes into an alternate, thinking-free state, and request a recommendation from our biggest and best self. After all, my latest book is entitled Wisdom for Living—Learning to Follow Your Inner Guidance. So, my question for you, gentle reader, is do you ever use this both-sides approach to living?