December 1

People have a need to feel their
pain.  Very often pain is the beginning
of a great deal of awareness.  As an
energy center it awakens consciousness.

Arnold Mindell


Today's Meditation:

Have you ever learned that you have a particular muscle only because you've strained it and now it hurts?  I've often heard people talk about muscles they never knew they had, after a hard day's work has left them sore.  Our pain can be very beneficial to us if we pay attention to it, for it can let us know things that we still have to take care of, things that aren't as strong as they could be.

For most people, though, pain is simply a signal to take painkillers.  No learning takes place, no paying of attention, no questioning as to the true cause of the pain.  There's nothing saying that we should sit there in agony just to try to "experience" our pain, but the truth is that there is a lot to learn from it.  Sometimes it's not a deep lesson--I swung the racket in an awkward way, and I pulled a muscle.  But often the pain comes from a deeper source, and it can be worth our while to explore it--and the only way to explore it is to experience it. 

This goes for emotional pain as well as physical pain.  I spent years feeling horrible amounts of pain from relationships, until I took the time to actually explore the pain and learn from it--I found out some very important things about how my own mind was causing that pain because it associated what was happening to me in relationships to what had happened to me as a child.  When I became aware of that dynamic, I learned ways to break that pattern of association, and the relationships stopped affecting me in the same ways.

Pain can be unpleasant, but it rarely is unbearable.  For the unbearable kind, fix it quickly, in the best way you can.  But for the other kinds, take a few moments before you fix it to find out what it may be trying to tell you--for there surely is a message for you, possibly from you yourself, there in what we call pain.  And if we can learn that message, then perhaps what we call pain may cease to feel like pain after all.

Questions to consider:

Why do we seem to want to banish pain as soon as we feel its first touch?  What parts of pain are we afraid of?

How might we learn to pay attention to our pain? 

What kinds of lessons have you learned from pain in the past?  Have they been valuable lessons? 

For further thought:

Our culture teaches us how to numb and distract ourselves but not how to listen to our pain and learn from our difficulties.  Think what we learn about pain from television.  We learn that pain is to be avoided at all costs and that there are a variety of pain relievers for every conceivable pain.  I would like to see a commercial that says, "Your pain is a great teacher.  Learn from it and be healed."

Bernie Siegel


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