Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pain is a Pain & Teacher

     Pain during a meditation retreat is relatively easy to see as part of one's practice. Such pain, which can be amazingly severe, at least tends to end at the end of each sitting.
     Right now I'm not on retreat, yet have been experiencing frequent unpredictable jabs of severe lancinating pain, up to 5 seconds at a time, over a two-week period from piriformis syndrome (compression of the sciatic nerve by the psoas muscle). Recently there have been hours of this same pain elicited during the last half of each in-breath - a real attention-getter! Sleep has been compromised. It's difficult not to guard, especially "in the grip of pain," but once again I've come to directly realize that guarding actually intensifies & prolongs pain! The recommended exercises have not helped so far.
     The most helpful thing has been to accommodate to the pain - to accept it as a temporary visitor, knowing that everything changes according to its own nature. And if this were to remain as a permanent guest, I would learn to accommodate to that too. What better alternative is there?
     When pain is not a signal to look after disease or injury, but a harmless "guest", whose departure time is indeterminate, one has to give up behaving like a B&B owner with OCD. We must learn to stop "crying wolf" internally and externally! While Acute pain = injury & risk of death = a call to immediate effective action; Chronic pain = just another guest in our large home. We need to accept the guest, accommodate him, but let him look after his own affairs while we live our lives.

Photo: guenter_from_munich   www.dpreview.com

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