Feeling Into The Pain
A short exploration into the power of meditation to ease pain.
I ate something bad over the weekend. Totally my fault, let’s get that straight. I had ordered a chicken burger. Not the best choice, but I probably ate less than half of it. Afterwards, Jo and I were talking to a friend, and as I stood there, I could feel my attention begin to wander towards my stomach, or at least what used to be my stomach. It was hurting, and the pain began to rise up. We made a quick exit - I had to lie down. The pain just got more and more severe. Like something was pinching on my insides, poking at me from the center of my gut. It radiated out from that spot, growing more and more intense.
Now I’m not telling you this story for pity, because what happened next was incredible, at least I think so. I made the decision to feel into the pain, to see if I could explore what was going on. Suddenly I realised that my whole body was clenched up trying to suppress the pain. My jaw was tight, my back and sides were aching from the exertion. I was curled up into a ball. I chose to soften, to release. The pain abated, subsided. I went looking for the pain, but it was gone. I mean a remnant of it was still there - I could feel tenderness, and a slight prickle in the side of my abdomen, but as long as I was present with my body I could keep the pain at bay.
Now I’m definitely not the first person to use meditation to ease or manage pain, and this wasn't even my first time trying, but it still surprises me how effective this technique can be. What is even more interesting is that I don’t think it’s necessarily limited to physical pain. In fact we covered this in our recent workshop with Kara-Leah Grant. It's a practice I've been working with recently - noticing my reactions to certain events and feeling into them, seeing if I can work with them - looking for the source - naming it, identifying it and maybe diminishing it. I'm still in the early stages here, but it's something I seem to have been working towards for a while, and it relates deeply to genuine Tantric practice (not that icky neo-tantra stuff).
A bit part of what I teach, particularly in my Gentle Yoga class is about feeling into your body and this is something I intend to work with in the future. I hope you will join me.