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Warrior versus Zen Master

Warrior versus Zen Master

When it comes to Migraine, I find myself struggling between the roles of Warrior and Zen Master, unsure of which to embrace.

By nature I am a warrior.

Visualizing myself as a warrior in the fight against Migraine is easy. It sure feels like a battle in my head. When I’m slumped over that porcelain throne, puking out the last spark of life, it can feel like I’m left for dead on some bloody battlefield. There is a primitive howl of defiance boiling just beneath the surface. Whether winning or losing, a warrior persona suits me.

Yet I long to be the Zen Master.

I can write eloquently about “making peace with Migraine” and “embracing the Migraine-self,” but let’s be honest. This only works on my good days. I embrace the Idea, not the Practice. That is so much more challenging. I suppose it is more “evolved” to embrace Migraine in some existential enlightenment. I guess I’m not quite ready to move beyond “cave man” no matter how much healthier that might be.

Then I remember that Migraine’s presence in my life goes back farther than my earliest memories. I don’t know what it’s like to live without the presence of Migraine. It isn’t realistic to wage war for a lifetime…at least not if I want to have a satisfying life. So I turn again to embrace the identity with which I was born.

The Middle Path

This leads me to that uneasy place where I am both fierce warrior and peaceful monk. I can sit quietly, sword in my lap, peacefully coexisting with Migraine, yet ever watchful for the first sign of violence. It too, sits quietly, watching for that first sign that I have forgotten its powerful grip. It strikes when I forget it must be appeased by an uneventful life. I strike when it appears to attack without provocation. We circle each other, only resting when we are convinced the other will rest as well.

Hmm…that sounds vaguely familiar. There’s something ancient and natural about this perspective. Neither can survive without the other, yet each would kill the other if given the chance. We are predator and prey, hunter and the hunted. I’m not really sure who is hunting whom.

…but I’m not going down without a fight.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Macbeck
    3 years ago

    Thank you for putting into words what so many of us live every day. Especially on those days when we feel more like we’ve been run over by a veritable train of fully loaded semi-trucks.

  • Vicki H
    4 years ago

    Wow. This was. Beautifully written post that really resonated with me. I’d never given my two-pronged approach that much thought – to see how they work together. Like everyone, I try for the zen but usually end up fighting with my pharmaceutical arsenal. Sometimes though, when the zen is all I have left, it’s the hardest to find.

    Very thoughtfully written. Thank you!!

  • arden
    4 years ago

    Advice from my Doc is hit it hard and hit it early. But “it” is not a monster out to get you. Its just your poor dis- ordered brain desperate for time, chemicals,whatever works to get it back to functioning the way its supposed to.

  • Maureen
    4 years ago

    Walk softly and carry a big stick! Teddy Roosevelt’s advice translated for warrior/monk migraineurs:
    Avoid triggers and pull out the meds when necessary.

  • Luna
    4 years ago

    Thanks Tammy. Good thoughts… I’m not going down without a fight either!!!

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