Pain is one of our greatest teachers. When we experience our pain - I mean really experience it - on the other side there is always the opportunity for pleasure. When we try to numb out or ignore our pain, it doesn’t actually go away.
I’m not a person who actively seeks pain, nor do I recommend that you do so. But human life inevitably comes with pain, at one time or another, in one form or another. These times of pain are opportunities.
I’m also not suggesting that you immerse into your pain. It is quite different to become enmeshed with your pain than to be consciously aware of and present to your pain. I suggest the latter.
Here’s why: the quality of pain is not so different than the quality of pleasure. What is physical pain, really? It’s your subjective interpretation of a combination of sensations. And what is physical pleasure? It’s also your subjective interpretation of a combination of sensations.
Here’s an example:
The sensations of pain might be HOT, STAGNANT, and HEAVY.
The sensations of pleasure might be WARM, FLOWING and LIGHT.
When does HOT become WARM?
When does STAGNANT become FLOWING?
When does HEAVY become LIGHT?
Where are our boundaries between pain and pleasure?
If we can learn to transmute the sensations, we create the opportunity to transform the feeling.
But how do we do this?
Step 1 - Identify the specific sensations of the pain. (Sensations are objective descriptors like warm, cool, tight, relaxed)
Step 2 - Focus your awareness completely on the pain. You are a witness observer of your pain. Be curious and notice what is present.
Step 3 - Send high vibration energy of gratitude, compassion and/or acceptance to this pain.
Step 4 - Be in service to the pain. What does it need? For example, if it feels compressed, give it more spaciousness. You can do this physically by repositioning your body or you can do this by visualizing spaciousness in the area. If it needs love, send it love from your heart or use loving touch. Be creative!
Step 5 - Observe as the sensations change. Don’t have any expectations about what will happen. Simply be with the experience and surrender to the mystery.
This is a simple process but it may take practice to master! We have been trained to move away from our pain, rather than towards it, so to stay focused on the pain can take some training. Think of it like a meditation.
In case you are wondering, this also works with emotional pain. Just as physical pain is a subjective interpretation of our physical sensations, emotional pain is a subjective interpretation of our thoughts & experiences over time. So the trick with emotional pain is to identify the underlying thoughts and experiences that have created the painful emotion, to re-wire those thoughts and to change your story. In this way we can turn emotional grief into joy, anger into passion or anxiety into calmness.
Good luck and feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions!