Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Understanding pain

It's amazing how we manage to increase our suffering by fighting against pain. This point is made by Joel and Michelle Levey in The Fine Arts of Relaxation, Concentration, and Meditation:
[T]he greatest suffering does not come from the torn or rotting flesh, or the tumor or the bedsores, but from their mental interpretation and response to the situation. Fear, helplessness, frustration, anger, guilt, and blame are clearly effective methods of intensifying the pain, constricting the body and mind to isolate, contract, and cut off that part of oneself from healing. Those who learn to open to pain, to investigate it and allow it to change, flow, and float freely in their bodies, take the first step toward mastering pain. Though this openness does not mean that the pain will go away, it does create a mental and emotional space in which pain is no longer related to as the enemy or as an emergency. With this openness we are able to accept, nurture, and love the part of us that is in pain. If we then bring the same quality of openness and reflection to our thoughts and emotional feelings, we will learn to recognize both the patterns of mind that intensify our suffering and the patterns of mind that bring greater harmony. In this way we become more responsible for optimizing our own self-healing potentials.

To sum up: resisting the pain makes it worse. Accepting the pain makes it better. It's as simple as that.

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