If you can go into the pain you can relieve the pain – an awesome resource for people who live with chronic or debilitating physical pain. The same can be said for mental anguish as well.
Both of these pains are often overwhelming leading the sufferer to want to escape the fire as quickly as possible. It’s reflexive. It hurts. Get out of that situation that’s causing the hurt.
But through a force of will, you can bring your focus to the pain point, keep it there and watch it melt away. It requires tremendous strength depending on the degree of pain as well as the cause. For instance, if a disc has slipped and nerves are being pressed, then while you might bring yourself complete relief through the technique I’m about to share, the pain will simply return after your brain waves have returned to normal consciousness patterns.
Likewise with the emotional condition. If a trauma has gripped the psyche to such an extent that the waking pain is unbearable, the death of a loved one or other psychological trauma to harsh to begin detailing here, then while this technique may bring you perfect solace for a the moments you remain in meditation, until unless you are able to bring this meditative condition of being into your normal waking state, the pain will return. I suppose, however, that this is the way of things anyway though, isn’t it? This cycle of joy and suffering.
I suppose it really needs to be said that physical pain generally means that there is a physical problem someplace and that medical treatment is obviously the first go-to when there is something in need of treatment. The following technique should be regarded as an adjuvant therapy in serious cases too numerous to outline, but can be totally effective for other serious cases like migraine, intestinal colitis and many others, too.
The Technique for Physical Pain
- Take any comfortable position, any place, any time.
- Calm your breathing. Bring it to a slow rhythm. This can be done by using a pattern that works for you until it is slow and regular. If you have problems with slowing or calming the breath, then a technique is needed for that first. Personally I have found that most people can achieve patterned breathing even at a shallow capacity with inhalations for a 4–6 count, holding gently for a moment at the arc and exhaling for a 10–14 count.
- Notice your pulse, your heartbeat. Let your focus gently rest there with interest or amusement while you continue the breathing. If you can feel the pain somewhere in your body at this time, acknowledge it, but don’t go there yet. Hold the knowledge of that pain in the periphery for a little while longer. Just know it to be there. It shouldn’t be hard to acknowledge it actually if it hurts.
- Once the breath has been brought under control, acknowledge the pain again by letting yourself feel it. Don’t remain there. Find your heartbeat again. Reaffirm that your breath is still calm and patterned. Allow your mind to rest in these three places i.e. the breath, the beat, the pain.
- Take a deep, relaxing breath. Exhale fully. Not powerfully. Just completely. Do this five times. Find your heartbeat.
- Return to the calm, patterned breathing. Notice any change to the condition of the pain like a spike, a dulling, a reduction, an increase.
- Find your heartbeat. Confirm that the breath is still calm and patterned.
- Now forget about the pattern of the breath and the heartbeat; push that knowledge to the periphery where you will remain conscious of it while you bring your focus to the pain by simply letting yourself notice the feeling. Examine the condition of that feeling. What are the adjectives?
- If you’re in pain, you should have no problem feeling it. So now that you are in a conscious operation to be with that pain, take a look at it. Your eyes are closed. You can see numerous thoughts as images, but I want you to look at the shape of that pain. How big is it? What color is it? How does it move? Does it gyrate? Pulsate? Does it draw your blood into it like quicksand? Give it some mental qualities.
- At this point you are completely focused on it and the question has been answered, but I want you, or anybody else interested, to take it a step further now, and use your imagination to affect the qualities of the pain.
- Find your breath in the periphery. Confirm the pattern. What’s happening with your breath right now? If it has escaped you, bring it back under your control because it is a tool that we’re going to work with.
- Take a relaxing a deep breath. Inhale. While you are inhaling, locate the pain. See its qualities. Now exhale, a little forcefully, blowing your breath into the pain construct, intentionally. Notice any changes in the construct of that pain. How does the image react? How does the feeling change? Depending on that answer, you might want to do that again. You might not.
- According to number 12, you will adjust the strength of the breath by either reducing the force, which should not be as forceful as blowing out candles, but rather of the force required to blow errant incense smoke away from your face. Not very forceful at all, but not as calm as the patterned exhale either. This is an intentional blowing.
- Formulate an intention now. What do you want to do with that pain construct? How would you like it to change under the guidance of your will? Experiment by using the blowing breath to modulate the color or the shape.
- Notice any changes in the feeling. Discover the relationship between the colors, shapes, even smell and the quality of the pain itself – the feeling. What color does the pain need to be in order for you not to feel it? What shape does it become when it starts to recede?
- If you have gone through the above steps, then you have already achieved a certain communion with your pain and have been able to affect and control and modulate your physical feeling and perception of that feeling. You are controlling your senses.
- Recall the patterned breath. Calm yourself. Come back to center. Find your heartbeat. Know that you can do this anytime.
There’s a lot of science out there that you can research on the relationship of meditation to pain alleviation and I encourage you to take a look at it to understand precisely how the physiology is responding when you do the above technique.
As regards mental health and trauma care, I’m going to beg off sharing the techniques for that unless directly asked privately only because while some may benefit, others might actually do themselves a bit of harm.
…is a Saiva Tantrika, Gyana Yogi and founder of Uma Maheshwara Yoga & Ayurveda. David has an MA in Semiotics, lives in Japan with his family and works as a coach in L & D, devoting his time to developing science-based tools and programs that help people reach the fullest potential of the human condition.