The Pain Processing Practice – Noticing

Notice your Pain

Both physical and emotional pain can be effectively managed by looking directly at what is actually happening, without rejecting, clinging to, ignoring, or elaborating. This perspective allows you to notice the true nature of pain: transitory, mutable, and impermanent.

Pain is not solid and ceaseless, and it has no story—despite our attempts to give it one. It appears and then dissolves over time. It takes an open mind to perceive your situation clearly and accurately. It takes patience to sit and observe without altering, judging, or making assumptions.

Remember that you are never alone: any pain or suffering you feel has also been felt by others. There is no one whose life is free from pain, who does not wish to be free of suffering, and who does not deserve compassion. Humans are all connected and are in this together.

Practice sitting quietly a few minutes each day without letting thoughts or feelings run things. If you pray, pray. If you meditate, meditate. Use your time to wish for all beings, including yourself and the people you find annoying and difficult, to be free from pain and suffering. Practice mindfulness.

Learn to recognize the stories you generate that create suffering out of pain, and become willing to drop them on the spot. When you simply rest your mind on pain without aiming to alter your experience, you might notice that pain changes. This can bring great comfort and reassurance. Pain is no more permanent than anything else. Headaches are not solid and unchanging, and neither is depression or fear.

Through this practice, you can gain confidence in your ability to work with whatever arises in the moment. Remember, you don’t need to cover the whole world with leather to protect your feet. You can simply wear shoes. It all begins with observing.

Learn your Patterns

Learning what your patterns and your particular pain cycle are is vital to exiting your pain. You need to learn how to take control of your pain cycles through changes in your patterns of behavior and, importantly, your mind. Every thought you have creates not only a chemical change in the brain but also an electrical change in your nervous system. The nervous system controls your body and you can learn to actually control your system and exit your pain cycle. It is crucial to bring your nervous system into balance in order to begin understanding your particular cycle and then lowering your pain and stress levels.

Your body and your emotions indeed are your business. So listen to your body carefully. Believe what your intuition says and trust what it tells you. An outside person or pill will not heal. All healing is from within, your body is built to heal.

It’s been said that people spend their first 50 years on earth trading their health for wealth, and then the next 50 years trading their wealth for health. But that isn’t a trade that you should make at all. It is never too late to learn and then to exit your patterns of behavior and biological cycles.

When you trigger your nervous system with negative or stressful thoughts you increase your pain. You say to yourself for example, “It shouldn’t be this way that I feel pain” and “It’s not fair I am in pain!” Releasing, or letting go of negative thought patterns that trigger the nervous system will lower pain levels. 

“Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.” – Buddhist proverb

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