Creating a life beyond migraines – The Spiritual Dimension

This is the last post in the series, Creating a life beyond migraines, for which I have presented The Physical Dimension and The Mental / Emotional Dimension; this post is on The Spiritual Dimension.

To meet the overarching goal for removing all toxicity and allowing yourself to heal from within, the following are some guidelines in the spiritual dimension.

The first step in healing my migraines spiritually has been to practice acceptance and forgiveness. You might wonder, what do these things have to do with an excruciating illness? The answer is that resistance and unforgiveness are the spiritual toxins that build up in our bodies, leading to disease and preventing healing.

Acceptance is the alignment with whatever is. It is the cessation of resistance. When I first started to get off all medication related to my migraines, I had an opportunity to observe the huge rush of fear and struggle in me whenever a migraine attack began (because I knew I wouldn’t be taking anything for it). My mind and body braced for the worst, preparing for what felt like an eternal, unbearable pain-episode. Then one day, I realized that there was a choice to do just the opposite. Instead of resisting and rejecting the pain as something “bad,” I could accept it, even welcome it! As I began doing this, the pain was allowed to course through my body rather than be lodged within it. Imagine that something fluid in nature is wanting to flow through you, and you resist it with an internal force, causing a dam-like structure to be erected. What is going to happen to the energy of the fluid against the dam? It is going to surge, swell and lash against the resistance. But if you remove the resistance, it is going to flow through you. And what came into you from the universe, must flow back into the universe. I began noticing that every time I was able to accept the pain and visualize it as a strong river flowing through me, its course was expedited and I received relief sooner and sooner over time. (Even if you are still taking medications, you could practice this).

Why forgiveness? Well, forgiveness is a state of being rather than a concrete action we take towards a person or situation. This state is the corollary to acceptance. When we are in a state of forgiveness, we are in harmony with the way things are, and harbor no ill feelings or wishes that things were different than they are. Holding thoughts of forgiveness towards people and situations has energetic healing properties for our body. This is especially relevant for chronic conditions such as migraines because we also hold grudges and even extreme anger or resentment against our afflictions. “Why me? Why do I have to have this excruciating illness? What – a migraine again?” We also feel guilty for not being social/familial participants, for possibly neglecting our jobs, partners, children, or for not keeping up with the activities of all the “normal” people … and ironically, this lack of forgiveness for ourselves can cause us to neglect our own needs, and thus perpetuate the cycle of chronic migraines.

Much has been written about the power of being present. (The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle is a personal favorite.) Besides having tremendous benefits in general, the benefits specifically to migraineurs can be significant.

Presence is the ability to gently observe what is here and now without judgment and reactivity. The reason this is powerful is because the present moment is our only access, our only portal to life. When we access that portal, infinite possibilities open up to us, including the possibility of being entirely migraine-free. The moment we take our focus off the present and into the past (in which migraines occupy a prominent role), we become energetically closed off to the possibility, and place our past in the future!

In practical terms, presence and mindfulness are huge stress relievers. Eating with presence benefits digestion, going to bed with presence enables quality sleep, relating with others with presence enables better emotional connection, working with presence produces inspired work … the list goes on. Therefore, practicing presence along with the physical and mental/emotional guidelines can exponentially multiply benefits.

The third step in the spiritual process is practicing detachment along with acceptance and presence. Detachment is not apathy. It is, in fact, the ability to feel everything with presence and acceptance, without attaching any meaning or significance to it. Non-significance is the hallmark of detachment, which can be seen as having two aspects: “it is impermanent” and “it is impersonal.”

How do we attach significance? We do so by creating a narrative, a label, a story, and then convincing ourselves that that story is a permanent description of who we are. Detaching from these narratives, labels and stories is not the same as denial: we continue to be fully aware, we recognize what is happening in the present moment, and we simply observe it. All we do differently is that we don’t label it.

Why does detachment help migraines (or other illnesses)? Well, because over time our story about our illness history becomes less of a tool to understand our affliction, and more of a way to identify our SELF. Soon we become unable to separate the story from our self – they become fused in identity. Once we become personally attached to story in this way, we have an unconscious stake in preserving and perpetuating it. This is because, if the story becomes untrue, our identity with which we have become familiar, with which others have become familiar, and within which we feel comfortable and safe, is challenged. “I am a migraneur” is part of our identity, and we don’t want to give it up!

You may be thinking – are you crazy? Why would I want to live with such a debilitating disease? It is not you (i.e. your true nature) that wants this, but your ego** does, because your ego is attached to the identity you have created thus far. It is frightened to let go because it fears change, which it sees as loss, erosion, and disintegration of itself. Your ego loves to hold on, to preserve, to propagate itself! (** The word ego is used to describe self-concept.)

The earliest step I began to take towards detachment (relative to my migraines) is that I stopped saying “I am a migraineur.” I began to say instead (when necessary), “I experience migraines.” Next, I gradually reduced making references to migraines in interactions with newer acquaintances in my life (I mentioned it only if I was actually experiencing an attack.) I also stopped getting excited about comparing notes or commiserating with every person I met who shared my affliction. Over time, these steps have helped me loosen the stronghold of my story, enabling the possibility of being migraine-free to gain more and more momentum.

This is the most recent step in my spiritual journey relative to migraines. Instead of working towards some future time when I will be fully healed of migraines, I have begun feeling a sense of peace in the deep knowing that the potential for my healing isn’t at some point in my future, but it is right here, right now. The acorn that will become the oak tree has all of the oak tree inside it – right now. So, by deeply feeling my own healing power right here, right now, I am able to see that I am already healed. This is not some theoretical statement to cheer up myself, but a sincere, energetic re-connecting with the creative, regenerative force of Nature, the Divine Spirit, which always has our highest and best under consideration. Such faith is the automatic generator of gratitude, which simultaneously heals and replaces self-defeating thoughts and behaviors. One is then naturally guided to the thoughts and behaviors that align oneself with an “already healed” state! Each one of us can access this power in all aspects of our lives by awakening to consciousness and presence!

Last 5 posts by Shahana Dattagupta


  1. Anonymous

    I would not have thought of this aspect. Idea: Why dont you start a migraine support group in Seattle. I have heard of achenet.

  2. Tana

    Thanks for the idea! I hadn’t heard of achenet.

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