This is my plan for overcoming glaucoma: embrace, evolve and exceed.
I had to start embracing my glaucoma because to do otherwise implied aversion. Aversion is defined as "antipathy: a feeling of intense dislike." Obviously, we resist that which we dislike. And that which we resist persists - this is a law of health. This law is the basis for the radical acceptance paradox: radical acceptance is the first step toward change.
Furthermore, aversion is one of only five root causes of suffering in life. Patanjali says, "Aversion is clinging to pain." Therefore, I have embraced glaucoma. When I think about glaucoma, I now feel acceptance. I also feel thanks and appreciation for it. I feel love for what glaucoma is doing for me.
I can't tell you exactly how I reached this point, but I know I didn't start here after I was diagnosed with glaucoma. I started deep in a state of denial and aversion. When I learned the radical acceptance paradox and reminded myself what aversion is, the positive changes began unfolding (seemingly) automatically.
Once I embraced glaucoma, I saw that as I adjusted my lifestyle, my attitude and my emotions in ways that helped manage my glaucoma, I was becoming a better person. I was extending and enhancing myself. I began to really enjoy this. I also learned to utilize the best treatments from various medical systems and I saw I was becoming less biased. I learned how to be less biased in more areas of my life. As I saw that increasing my inner peace helped manage my glaucoma, I became thankful that the glaucoma was helping me achieve greater inner peace.
Every day I utilize what glaucoma is teaching me to evolve. Glaucoma is simply an indication that I have had imbalances in some aspect of my being in the past. Glaucoma is simply a signpost pointing me in a new (and better) direction. There is no doubt that I have become a better person because of glaucoma and I am continuing to become even better every day because of these lessons.
There are many ways that glaucoma is helping me evolve. It isn't so important exactly how I am evolving. The important point is that the people who overcome diseases (or any of life's other challenges) are the ones who evolve. Consider this quote:
"Before cancer, I just lived. Now I live strong." - Lance Armstrong
I looked at Lance's manifesto and decided to write my own manifesto for glaucoma. Here is my first draft:
I believe in experiencing all that life has to offer, fully and through all my senses. I believe in living every minute of life fully present and with peace and love in my heart. I believe in seeing everything and everyone without prejudice, including myself. I believe in continually getting smarter and always living stronger. Glaucoma does not control me, but it does teach me and help me be my best. Because of glaucoma, I see the world more accurately and I see beyond it more clearly.
But there will come a time when glaucoma isn't teaching me. As I reach a fuller understanding of myself through the perspective of glaucoma I am losing the need to intellectually manage my glaucoma. I am losing the need to compromise or suffer any deprivation. My desires are naturally for those things that are right for me. More and more, my glaucoma can be as if forgotten.
Right now, it is not forgotten because I watch my eye pressure carefully (some would say obsessively) and I learn from it. I alter my activities and I experiment in many ways. I watch the results and I learn. I enjoy this process. But I recognize that I'm only in the middle stage. Bruce Lee mentioned this stage in his famous quote:
"Before I learned the art, a punch was just a punch, and a kick, just a kick.
After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick, no longer a kick.
Now that I understand the art, a punch is just a punch and a kick is just a kick."
-- Bruce Lee
He meant that for someone just learning about martial arts there are lots of details and techniques to understand. There are many kinds of punches and kicks and many rules and skills for performing them correctly. I'm in the stage where I am learning many skills for managing glaucoma and I'm continually studying medical research related to glaucoma (as well as performing my own informal experiments). However, I am also tasting a bit of the third stage now.
I interpret Bruce Lee's quote to mean that, in the third stage, things (kicks, punches and other skills) became instinctual and automatic (and effortless). As a master, Bruce Lee obviously did not have to think about how to perform a certain kick. He had moved beyond that.
In the same way, I don't have the experience of not being able to do what I want to do because of glaucoma. In that sense, it's as if my glaucoma can be forgotten. As Lance Armstrong said about cancer, my glaucoma does not control me. It does not define me. I don't own it. I use it to grow. I leverage it. I query it. It serves me.
When I have fully transcended it, I won't need it to help me grow. I won't need its service. I won't have any more questions to ask it. I will be able to forget it because I will have evolved beyond it and transcended it. By exceeding glaucoma, I will have gone beyond both the disease and my old self.
I will still have glaucoma genes and glaucoma tendencies, but anyone who really understands genetics knows that the key is expression. By exceeding glaucoma, my genetic expression will be altered. This isn't magic. All of us are already influencing the way our DNA is expressed on a daily basis. I'm simply approaching glaucoma on another level - a consciousness-based level.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi frequently says that it is impossible to solve a problem on the level of the problem. He says get rid of the darkness. Don't search the in darkness for a solution. Simply turn on the light.
Do you know this funny story from the Middle East called "The Lost Key?"
One night a neighbor strolling by Nasrudin's house found him outside under the street lamp brushing through the dust. "Have you lost something, my friend?" He asked. "I've lost my key," said Nasrudin, "Can you help me find it?" After some minutes of searching and turning up nothing, the neighbor asked him, "Are you sure you lost the key here?" Nasrudin answered, "No, I didn't lose it here. I lost it over there in the dark." To this the neighbor replied, "If you lost the key over there, Nasrudin, why are you looking for it here?" "Well, there is more light here, of course."
To me this is just a funny story about someone who understood a half-truth. Maybe there is more to it. But I like it simply because it is funny and it reminds me that one does need the light to find what one is looking for. If I were telling the above story, the character would probably go get a bright flashlight and shine it on the area where the key was lost. End of story - but not as funny.
Treating glaucoma while not evolving as a person, while not improving my lifestyle, while not elevating my attitude and emotions, and without increasing my spirituality is staying in the dark. Treating glaucoma only through allopathic drugs is also searching for a solution in the dark. Turning on the light means reaching a point where the glaucoma doesn't serve a purpose. This is a solution at another level. The true solution involves exceeding (going beyond) the level of the problem. This is the only true solution for glaucoma. Other attempts at solutions will all have unwanted side effects.
Obviously, light is a metaphor for awareness, understanding and clarity. It comes with personal evolution.
I feel like the light is on more and more -- and it is only because of old habits that I go back to searching in the dark areas without a light. For example, I know that stress increases my eye pressure. The only reason I still allow myself to experience stress is because of those old habits or old reactions to situations. However, the light is on enough for me to see the process while it is happening and to often short-circuit it. Instead of the stress persisting for days, weeks or months, I am now able to change my emotional state within minutes or hours.
With my evolution thanks to glaucoma I am giving up stressful ways of living. I am giving up old habits that caused me to go through my day in negative emotional states. I am giving up a lot of things and I am even giving up part of myself - my old self. I say, Good riddance. I'm very happy to give up all that old crap.
On the other hand, I am acquiring and generating new things. I have acquired a lot more love and I generate a lot more love. I have acquired a lot more inner peace.
It's all a trade-off, but with each trade I come out on the winning side. There is no loss - only gain.