Yogic Techniques at the Dentist

I mentioned to some Ananda friends that I had a dental appointment for a filling that afternoon. I said I couldn’t have Novocain because of a drug interaction problem. They teased me that I’d have to go without painkillers the way Swami Kriyananda used to at the dentist. But the dental hygienist had told me there was an alternate painkiller, so I felt confident I would be fine.

That afternoon I reminded the dentist about no Novocain and that the hygienist had said there was another choice. Knowing about my medication, the dentist said that actually, I couldn’t use that alternate medication either. “Would you like to try no painkillers?” he asked. He showed me the X-ray to give me confidence that the root wasn’t too close to where he had to drill—although once he started, the drill did manage to find the nerve a few times. I remembered Swami’s example, took a deep breath and said, “Yes.”

While the dentist was getting everything ready, I practiced the Hong-Sau concentration technique. I felt relaxed. I remembered Swami saying to think of the pain as very short lived in the whole scheme of things. He also said to re-direct the attention. I had been focusing that week on the divine quality of Joy. Throughout the procedure I inwardly chanted Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy, ever new Joy, Joy, feeling the Joy expanding within me. I also visualized Swami’s face smiling encouragement.

Swami said that while in the dentist chair, he sometimes distracted himself from the pain by writing music or thinking of philosophy. I can’t claim to have done anything so exalted! However, the time went by quickly. I didn’t wriggle as I usually do, and I didn’t have a numb face for hours afterwards. The yogic teachings truly have practical application.

I have an appointment for another filling in a few weeks—maybe a song will come to me then!

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