Sunday 23 March 2014

Meditating on pain; arguing with the boot

So, I have been meditating on pain.  Not out of choice (because that would be a bit perverse) but because one meditates on whatever comes up really.  I was lying there, in bed, wondering quite how to get through the night, and I thought about how pain is a message.  Pain is simply the way our body tells our mind that something is wrong.   So I acknowledged it, thanked it for letting me know all wasn’t quite right (okay, not remotely right), and promised I’d sort it out in the morning.  But it didn’t go.  So I furrowed my brow and said, ‘Okay, body, what’s this pain about then?’  And my bodymind threw out an image of a sort of dark cloud that coalesced into a boot which kicked me in the guts again and again.
‘Ouch,’ I said.
‘Yeah,’ said my bodymind.  ‘Ouch indeed.’
‘So you’re not going away?’ I said.
‘In the dreams you won't be having, baby,’ it said, and ramped up the pain factor a bit, just to show who was boss.

Well, screw you, pain, I thought.  But, of course, becoming tense and angry just made it ten times worse.  So that was when I figured I might as well meditate it.  I mean, pain is just our mind, right? It’s just messages from the brain.  So there must be an override switch, right?  And meditation works pretty well for emotional and mental pain, so why not physical?  After all, where does one end and the other begin, huh?  The boot laughed and said, 'Just our mind? Just messages? Just?  Just? JUST?'
I tried breathing it away but that didn’t work – the breaths were too long, they stretched too far. So I took the focus smaller and smaller, into each moment.  And started wondering what exactly a moment is; how small it can be.  My focus shrank smaller and smaller still.  And smaller...  Until, suddenly, there it was – no pain.  Just a sensation.  And this is nothing new but it struck me that pain is a time construct – a combination of past memory and future fear.  Rather like music.  More and more these days, as I listen to music, I find myself thinking how funny it is that we can ‘like’ a song, a piece of music, a symphony, a whatever.  When really all we ever hear in the ‘now’ is a single note or even just a part of a note.  It is purely our mind, flicking back and forth over time past and future, that creates a hologram of the whole piece of music.  And, of course, that goes for everything really – every poem, every book, every meal, every drink, every joke, every dream, every kiss, every orgasm, every day, every year, every life.  Every thing.  Strings of moments that we tug together to create meaningful ‘wholes’, chunks of time that become events or things. 

Again, nothing new.  All very Zen.  But, actually, very damn useful.  Of course, it’s hard to keep it going hour after hour.  I would struggle with pain-free meditation for eight hours.  But it bought me time.  It's buying me time. J


Frances said...

Jane, as always, it's interesting to read your post and to learn a bit from you.

I do hope that the pain will soon go away even without the aid of meditation.

After reading your earlier post I have been trying to practice the breathing meditation every day and have found it helpful.

In the past few weeks, I've spent a few unwanted hours in my dentist's chair as she works on creating a crown to repair a broken tooth. Of course, she does the numbing bit, to help me through the potential physical pain of the process, but what I've also been doing to try to not tense up, is...concentrating on the sound of the drilling rather than anticipating any potential feeling of pain. I've been trading one sense for the other.

Seems helpful. One more appointment to go. It's gonna be on April Fool's Day. Coronation Day for me.


Expat mum said...

I quite often tell myself that pain is just the memory (dentist, shots etc.) It's not at the time but it's often over in a flash, but you can actually tell yourself you'll be OK even if you don't manage to make the pain go away.
Very interesting concept, but I would think it's also important not to think every pain away just in case there's something requiring immediate medical attention.

Exmoorjane said...

@Frances - Pff! Nothing to learn from me...but glad you have found the meditation helpful.
Ouch to dental pain - the movie Marathon Man comes to mind...but yes, not tensing helps a lot.
We'll celebrate the new tooth on Coronation Day, my friend. :)

@Toni - oh heck, yes. Pain is definitely a message that needs hearing. Mainly I feel we don't listen much pain is masked or ignored. Our bodies adapt around it.

Ashen said...

Huh, nothing like pain to plug us into the main. And then the relief, the easy flow of now.

Ashen said...
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FamilyAffairs said...

Good for you!! Amazing - the power of the mind Lx