I hate the dentist. Well, not the actual dentist. He’s a very nice man who listens and puts up with my neurosis (and everyone else’s of course). But the whole experience of sitting there, plastic shield over eyes, light searing the face, powerless while a masked woman sucks saliva out of my mouth with an alien device while the screeching scrapers and scalers wind up their wails of hygienic horror. I know that once that whirring dirvish of pain hits the back of my incisors I will tense like I’ve had a cattle prod gently applied to the base of my spine. So what do I do? Well, my friend once did a guided meditation with us where we journeyed to a place in a forest, and there was a great stone to lie on. This place is safe and tranquil. While my mouth is under assault, I close my eyes and let my other feet take me through the path to the trees. I climb onto the rock and at first I am clinging to it, as if it turned vertical and I am hanging off, about to fall. Then gradually as I focus on being in this calm place, I relax and am laying on the stone as if it is a cool, gravelly bed. After a while I get up. I dangle my feet in the stream close by, and watch the shadows of fish darting away. I glance up to see a fox watching me. Before I examine this place further, I am being winched up and ordered to rinse and spit. My mouth hurts but I don’t mind so much now. As I leave, I check the time. 7 minutes. From ordeal to fantasy therapy, I was in that room for only 7 minutes! This tells me several things- mainly, that I’m a terrible wimp, but also that the human mind is a wondrous and powerful machine, and that I have some very special friends.

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