According to the National Headache Foundation, over 45 million Americans suffer from chronic, recurring headaches, and of these, 28 million suffer from migraines. About 20% of children and adolescents also experience significant headaches.
For many years, I drank liquor when we went out to eat. It was a lark while in the restaurant but sheer hell the next day. I discovered that a teaspoon of Umeboshi paste, a very salty ingredient made from Japanese plums, could dispel a hangover. But better still was to not drink in the first place. So at middle age, I decided that I would rather feel good in the morning than in the evening, and I gave up drinking alcohol altogether.
Since I spend many hours every day sitting in front of a computer screen, I have become familiar with tension headaches which usually center in the temples and back of my neck. I have found that putting heat or rubbing Tiger Balm or peppermint essential oil alleviates the discomfort. Drinking ginger tea also seems to help.
I actually consider myself fortunate that my headaches these days are not debilitating and rarely interfere with my daily routine. Whereas my two sisters and many friends suffer from sinus headaches due to allergies, I have only a few seasonal symptoms.
Still, I've experienced enough pain from a headache to realize that it can be a catalyst to a spiritual practice of empathy. Whenever I have one now, I pause and breathe in and out and feel my connection to others who are suffering from a headache in this very moment. I am grateful to anything that reinforces my experience of oneness with others — even a headache. May we all find relief. May we all be free of pain. May we all know we are not alone.