Here are some notes on how to deal with pain naturally.
These notes have been written regarding physical pain, but the advice is also applicable to emotional pain. I should probably say as a disclaimer: this is not medical advice, I am not a doctor.
- Pain often consumes the attention at first. It can seem as if there is only the pain. Attention combined with resistance fuels the pain, so the first thing that can be done is to notice that pain arises in a space of no-pain. In the same way that a cloud exists due to the sky, pain exists in the space of being, or the space of consciousness. Notice that this emptiness surrounding pain is not involved or affected by pain. It is not personal. The pain and the person affected by the pain arise in this space. You are neither the pain nor the person affected by the pain (which is only a self-image). Be the space for it. Nonresistance helps with this, as explained below.
- (If helpful, the breath is always a useful tool to redirect attention from pain or its related resistance.)
- With pain comes the natural desire for it not to be there. Pain often carries with it, or at least provokes, an intense resistance to pain. This resistance is what creates most suffering, but it can be so inextricably linked to pain, that it can go unnoticed. Be unnatural and simply no longer argue with pain. If it is there, to fight it makes it worse. Surrender your desire for the pain to be gone. The desire for the pain to be gone is what makes you suffer most. The suffering lies most strongly not in the sensation itself, but for the intense desire for the sensation to be different. Undo this - no longer wish it be different. If resistance is still there, let this be there as well, no longer wish or expect things to be different, and allow fully. See what happens.
- The human mind believes that resisting the pain will diminish it and make it leave. Resistance hardens pain and intensifies suffering. Resistance to pain does the opposite of what it claims to do. It actually only maintains suffering and the ego.
- Without resistance of pain, it is more easy to notice the untouched space in which the sensation arises. The space is not personal, and does not suffer. The only distinction that is felt between you and this untouched space is the idea of "me" - the self image that suffers the pain, that feels touched and abused by pain.
3. Who Is Suffering?
- Who is suffering this? The worst part of pain is the “me” that suffers the pain. This can be particularly acute with things such as headaches, since the “me” that suffers it is often felt to be in the head – right where the pain is. The inner person that suffers pain is also observed by you. Locate the one who is suffering. Is the sufferer a real entity? Can it be found? Is it in fact just another thought that arises in you, that previously was given huge belief and importance?
- Another way of approaching this is to say - as you look inwardly – when pain is there – does the body suffer? Does the body wish the pain was gone? You may find that the body in itself is not the personal sufferer of pain. So does consciousness suffer? Consciousness is not a person that can suffer – pure consciousness is not personal. It is more like a space which allows the content to be as it is – so it is not the consciousness that suffers. So who is suffering? The idea of yourself suffers, and when involved with pain, the self-image becomes the very embodiment of suffering. Seeing that the one suffering is not real - but only an idea in the mind – will allow it to dissolve.
- The self-image, or the ego is the inner person who suffers pain. It has a natural aversion to pain, it always wants pain to be gone, and in this wanting pain to be gone – it creates immense suffering. It uses pain as an excuse to really turn up the resistance, which it survives on. The key is to give up this fight, and no longer wish pain be gone. This reverses suffering.
4. Investigating The Reality Of Pain
- Once the pain has become less unbearable using the first 2 pointers – you may wish to investigate the pain - what is it really? If you drop all name-calling and assumptions about what pain is and what it means – then what is it really? Can it actually be defined or located? Can you find a point where it starts and stops? What is pain made of? As you go into the pain directly, in a surrendered, nonresistive state, you may find the apparent solidity and “realness” of pain dissolves somewhat.
- Pain often commands great belief, respect and importance. To simply not believe in pan, to not take it to be real, at least can remove its forceful pulling power over your attention.
- The body, its related sensations including pain, and the person that enjoys or suffers them – all arise in your awareness. Do not identify with the body. Let it be, but do not take it to be who you are.
- The personal sufferer of pain is not real – it is only a mental construct that carries force of belief and habit. The antidote to suffering is allowance – to no longer want the pain to be gone. This sounds unnatural, and is unnatural in many ways, yet is the only way to reduce suffering when faced with inevitable pain or illness. Paradoxically, it promotes an inner environment of healing and peace. You may notice that without fueling resistance, and instead no longer arguing with pain, the pain diminishes in strength and potency. Resistance gives pain its apparent hardness and strength.
- Be aware that suffering arises in you, it does not happen to you. Suffering is most potent when we believe the feelings should be different, or if we desire they be different. To relinquish this belief or desire, and to instead want things to be as they are, is the most miraculous state of mind – it allows for healing, but makes no sense to our conditioning.
- Of course some natural foods are reported to have analgesic properties. I have read that ginger root is a very strong natural painkiller, some say it is more effective as an anti-inflammatory than certain commercial painkillers. For a link to some science behind these claims, click here.