Lately the middle of the night finds me awake and holding my ear--it hurts like the dickens.  It does not bother me during the day--but the middle of the night finds me tossing and turning from the pain.  It finally occurred to me--it is not my ear that is the problem--I am once again clenching my teeth while sleeping.  I have had bouts of TMJ before--sometimes so bad I have a difficult time opening my mouth (DO NOT ACT SHOCKED!).  It is my body's reaction to stress.

As I thought this over, I pondered on the fact that I keep my arms folded across my chest a great deal---tight-drawn in--it would appear I am cold.  I am not cold---  I also find my hands tightly clasped at times---in a fist.  Sub-consciously I think I am protecting myself from the pain the world might throw my way--what good these futile actions do is laughable.  

The way I want to live---hope to live--desire to live--is  OPEN  and accepting and looking for the joy--even amid the pain--looking for the joy.  Arms and hands opened wide to all that God has blessed me with and in a spirit of acceptance for the other.   One of the remedies I use for TMJ is a conscious effort to relax my entire body by deep breathing.  Breathing from the pit of my stomach---deep breaths ---filling my lungs --and a slow - slow exhale as I release the part of the air that  is my body's waste.

I breath in---filling myself with the joy of all that is around me--inhaling God's gifts that surround me

I breath out---releasing the pain, the sorrow, the distress---all the world has thrown at me

In and out-----In and out----slowly---slowly---Filling myself with the joy and releasing the other---taking deep breaths of the essence of God---
the very essence of His Glory.

"But it is the spirit in a man,
the breath of the Almighty, 
that gives him understanding."
Job 32:8
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