Meditating in the Dental Chair
There have been many times in my life when I have paused to give thanks for my meditation practice.
Today, at the dentist was one of them.
Let me back up. I learned to meditate out of my deep, deep hunger to connect with my inner spirit, to know God within me. I have been meditating daily for almost twenty years. And, yes, little-by-little meditation has supported me in clearing out the voices of the world so that I may hear my deep, small voice within speak to me. Meditation has also trained me in pausing to make conscious choices over reactive impulses. Learning to follow my breath, calm my body, and retrain my thoughts have been a bi-product of this practice.
Today I’m at the dentist. Laying the dental chair with my mouth wide open, my body tenses as a needle makes its way toward me. I thought I was going in for filling replacement, and it turned out to become the first step of getting a crown. Bright lights are glaring down on me, the young dentist, Dr. Lacy, has her glasses on with magnifiers looking into my mouth and the pinch and sting of the shot begins. I notice my body immediately start to tense up. This is where I decided to kick into meditation.
The dentist puts a rubber damn over my mouth and I find it suffocating and difficult to breathe. I am unable to swallow and I become scared. After sitting up twice in the beginning of the procedure to assist with swallowing, I make a decision right then and there. This level of panic and stress requires a deep meditative state. I bring my attention away from the needle, the doctor’s glasses, and what is about to transpire into my body. I start with my breathing. I imagine breathing down into my toes. An inner smile emerges as I believe my breath has provided oxygen into my feet. Then I breathe upward toward my belly. As my focus is inside of belly, I recognize how centered it is, and I am becoming. Keeping my focus on the middle I allow my awareness to feel around my body. My neck and shoulders are crazy tense. I decide to change this. I breathe into the muscles and tell them they are safe and I love them, drooping and relaxation kicks in.
I am in the chair for three and a half hours. I became so much at peace the doctor swears I was sleeping. This isn’t so. I was actually hyperaware of everything. I knew the temperature in the room had shifted from comfortable into a chilly cold, I felt and heard when the composite was being packed into place, and I was aware of the other two dentists making plans for their basketball game on Wednesday at the local church. My mind was alert, my body, however, was relaxed.
I attribute meditation to literally saving my life twice. Highly allergic to bee stings, I was stung at two separate times and places without access to medical support. Utilizing meditation and mental focus to keep the venom localized; it didn’t transfer throughout my body toward my heart and cause shock.
Connecting with my Inner God, relaxing my body in the dental chair or saving my life from a toxic reaction, meditation is one of the single most power tools I have.