How To Stay Present In Pain?


Hello Adam,

Thank you for a wonderful site. 

My question is how can we stay present whilst in pain? I always seem to be aware of so many thoughts and images that I have to get help, go to the doctor's, go to the hospital, something is terribly wrong, I need to get this checked out, I can prevent this, why is my body in such pain? Where is this pain coming from? What did I do to bring this pain on? Why am I in pain? Why does this keep happening? What if it's so bad and I die tonight? Am I dying? Is something spreading inside my body right now? etc. Whenever I do seek medical attention either the pain will pass or the doctor cannot find anything wrong with me.

I don't feel safe in my body anymore and I don't seem to trust the pain I feel. I don't understand why my body can be in such pain at such random times. I haven't ate anything different, slept any different, drank anything different, not changed anything in my lifestyle and there doesn't seem to be stress in my life, apart from the pain I feel in my body at random times. I have no idea how to really stay present and not fear the pain I am in. This can be from a very sore headache to a more severe pain that has actually put me in hospital. Results always come back the same - they do not understand the pain I am in and only offer anti-depressants. It's left me traumatized to say none-the-least. I can't find peace. I can't make sense of what is going on and part of me wonders if I had an answer to all of this, then I would know what it wrong with me.

I try meditation but I am pulled in with such a weight or force of energy pain I feel in the body. It pulls me in so much and that's when the thinking starts badly (worry, anxious thoughts, etc) I am fully aware of this. I even notice the more I try and stay just with the awareness everything seems to get worse, more intense and then I have this moment of . . .okay, okay, I give in and I let myself cry, worry, be scared, seek reassurance, moan and complain to my partner, have a cigarette, drink my tea, try a relaxing bath etc. 

Eckhart Tolle mentions about staying present can really benefit people, such as myself, but I am not really sure how to do it. I don't know what to expect and I really have nothing to compare it to if I am doing okay, or doing it right. Is there stages to becoming more aware? How does one know they are being present? I suppose it would be a moment of no thought and joy? I have experienced this, but I am aware I didn't control it or make it happen, when it did happen. It just arose all by itself. 

I think I need more advice on how to cope or stay present with pain and not let it go into complete suffering and torment, but I really have no idea how to do that. What do you advise?



It can feel like the most difficult and anti-intuitive thing to actually let pain be there. Letting pain be there is not really a “doing” or an action or something you have to try to maintain. It can often come when nothing else seems to work, when it is clear that there is resistance to the pain, which is not doing anything to help it. Often the resistance and the sensation of pain are so intertwined that they appear to be one thing, but the fighting against the pain is what creates most suffering.

I would say do not expect anything. Do not expect the joy to come, or else you will feel as if you are looking for it or waiting for it to happen. Presence is not necessarily joy. In its purity, it is, but there may be other energies that are covering it, that need to be released, or are acting out for a while.

Do you feel as if there is still a strong resistance to the pain when it arises? I know it feels normal for there to be strong resistance to strong pain, but notice that this resistance just creates suffering.

The resistance is not really anyone’s fault. It is just another energy that arises, that usually carries the sense of “I” or “me”, and so the energy says “I am resisting this and I can’t seem to stop.” Just notice this, notice that you can hear it speak when it says “I” or “me”.

It is also normal for things to intensify when you just fall back into the universal or impersonal awareness. Things come up to be released, or they call out for the attention and resistance that they are losing. So don’t worry if it seems to intensify. If you let it, then it will not last.

I know things like this can seem awful and unfair, but they can often have the effect of removing or stripping back the ego, the energy that resists and suffers other sensations, the energy that feels it is a victim of life. At some point the resistance is seen as a waste of effort.

Many people carry the idea in the back of their heads that no resistance means nothing will get better. If you did not resist pain, then you might just not be concerned or take care of your health, for example. But it is not true. All non-resistance does, especially in instances like this, is reduce suffering and open you up to a deeper intelligence, even healing.

For some people, it can help to just start writing. Write on a page, perhaps when there is a gap without the pain: “Why do I feel this pain?” Then without thinking about what you are going to write, just start writing. See what comes out. No one else has to read it, don’t worry about being right or wrong. Just write it out and see what happens. 

You don’t really need to use a measuring stick for how present you are being. Really the idea of someone separate who must do their best to remain present, is just another trap, and a frustrating one. Be presence, rather than someone trying to be present. And being presence, or just being, is natural when the attention is not fighting or condemning the present experience. There may well be latent resistance that will flare up in the body/mind, and this is ok. Don’t call it “resistance”, don’t resist it, don’t identify with the energy.

Sometimes pain forces you to drop yourself, to drop the idea of yourself. Then presence remains.

I hope that can help in some way. Please comment below if you would like to add anything or ask anything more.



P.S Looking back on your message, it is ok if the attention is dragged into thinking. It is not a battle you have to take on to try to not experience certain thoughts or fears. The trick is to actually let the fear be there, without condemning it or going along with the mental explanation or analysis of it. If you try to fight fear or thought, then it will just feel like that - a constant fight. But if you let the fear destroy you, let the thoughts destroy themselves and the self-image at the root of them, then there is an opening of something deeper.


Comments for How To Stay Present In Pain?

(from previous website)

Jul 18, 2016
thanks NEW
by: claire walsh

extending appreciation for this site and the work

Jul 18, 2016
Thanks Claire NEW
by: Adam -

Thanks for adding that Claire, glad it is useful. Adam.