Pain does not have to involve suffering. Meditation helps us to distinguish between the actual pain we feel and our reaction to the pain. Realizing this difference is the first step in removing suffering.
Physical Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering are two different things. Pain is an unpleasant feeling and can be described as raw data. Pain is neither negative nor positive. It just is. Suffering is a dreadful relationship with pain that comes with negative thoughts and emotions. A relationship with pain does not have to be negative.
Reaction To Pain and Pain
To remove suffering from pain is it necessary to realize the difference between pain and reaction to pain. Knowing the difference in theory is not enough. The difference must be felt internally by practising meditation. Reaction to pain and the pain itself are sometimes so tangled that it is difficult to notice the difference. Pain comes first and reaction is secondary. When reaction quickly follows pain, the two seem like one.
Mindfulness meditation and practicing mindfulness in daily life can help you to spot the subtle difference between pain and reaction to pain. Over time this difference becomes less subtle until the distinction is clear in your mind. Once you have a clear distinction you will realize that some reactions to pain are optional. Suffering as a reaction to pain is a choice. You will also realize that you may choose not to react to pain in some cases.
Turning Inward To Meditate
Turning inward to meditate can remove suffering from pain and lessen or even completely stop pain in some cases.
While in meditation relax and be mindful of the sensations in your body. Follow your energy as it travels to different body parts. Keep your attention inside of your body and whenever you feel yourself getting distracted return inside.
Another thing that causes suffering are the negative thoughts and statements people make when feeling pain. These statements prolong suffering and make the pain worse.
“This pain is killing me.”
“I can’t take it anymore.”
“I can’t last any longer.”
If you catch yourself making these statements or thinking these thoughts change them into something positive and send love and kindness to your pain instead.
Not Always Present
Physical pain is not always present. If you pay close attention to your pain you’ll notice that it comes in segments. Physical pain may be compared to the second hand of a clock. Each tick represents pain while the short pause between seconds represents the absence of pain. These short pauses are hard to detect so there seems to be no ease in the pain being experienced. Meditation increases your sensitivity to the spaces of calm between pain. The more intense the pain the more difficult it is to identify the spaces but they are there. Once you can clearly identify these spaces you can focus on them and lessen the agony.
Realize that pain and suffering are different.
Notice the difference between your reaction to pain and the pain itself. Pain comes first, reactions are secondary and many of them are optional.
Be mindful of your body and relax whenever you feel pain. Avoid making the body tighten up around the painful area.
Notice the negative thoughts that come with pain and avoid them. Instead think positive and send love and kindness to wherever you feel pain.
Pain comes and goes. Find peace in the spaces between pain.