Coloured portrait

Coloured portrait

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Touching Upon Pain

It's hard. And it makes me feel uncomfortable.
Meditation, self-inquiry, and touching upon one's pain is neither easy, nor comfortable. Personal development work is not aimed at making you comfortable, but at making you better: kinder, stronger, more effective, more liberated, more fulfilled. 
Strength training is not easy or comfortable - if you already train, you're probably grinning and nodding, because you know very well this is true.
Training your mind to concentrate in order to develop clarity and focus is as demanding as muscular strength training, but you can train your palate to enjoy it. My first attempt at silent contemplation twenty years ago was a disaster: I was on a yoga retreat in a village, when the teacher took us participants on a silent twenty minutes walk around the property. He instructed us to notice what is, and not to talk. I looked up, and saw sky, looked down and saw green grass, then looked around and saw people walking, and then I asked myself, now what? I made faces and pulled out my tongue at the friend who accompanied me. Twenty minutes of silence were torture.
Twenty years later, after ten-days silent Vipassana meditation retreats and thousands of hours of mindful movement and bodywork, I look forward to my practice.
Recently, a healing client told me: "I have never had someone be so present with me before". The reason I am able to stay present with my clients' pain is because I am able and experienced at staying present with my own. Awareness heals, and the first step in addressing pain is to notice it, listen to it, and receive any information that it may bring. According to Shinzen Young, one of my favourite meditation teachers, pain is an experience that hasn't been completed. According to my healing experience, this is true. 
Willingness to touch upon pain is the ticket to peace in body and mind. The key is titration - neither completely avoiding the pain, nor overdoing with it. The is healing process must be gentle enough, and effective enough, merely touching on pain for a short while, drawing any information from it, then relaxing and letting go, then repeating the process in manageable bits in subsequent healing sessions.

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