Monday, March 21, 2011

The Gift of Pain

A few improper strokes in the pool a few weeks ago, that's all it took to bring me into the body, (almost) completely. The pain in my right shoulder has become hard to ignore. Nothing major, only unpleasantness and the added burden of aversion. In other words, a wonderful opportunity to practice and to become a little bit wiser. Every moment, a dance between the sensation of pain, the unpleasant feeling, and the next link in the chain of suffering, the craving for a pain free state. Dependent origination is not a theoretical construct . . . 

Physical pain, emotional pain . . . whatever unpleasantness has come your way today, how do you choose to live it? Do you use the experience as a way to practice a different way of being? Or do you let the aversion solidify into full blown "Why me?"? Or do you try to distract yourself into temporary non existence?

So many chances we have, to become more awake!


  1. Pain is a reminder. Sometimes you can correct the circumstances that give rise to it; sometimes you can't. The former case isn't very philosophical, but then, isn't that just a distinction that we create?

  2. It is hard to see pain as just pain; a part of the natural flow of the universe just as we are.

    I love that you turned your situation into a mindful practice. We don't need to go to a monastery to practice. Opportunities arise at all times throughout our lives!

    Great post!
    With Love,


  3. I have a right shoulder pain, probably caused by yoga and then made worse by swimming. It has made me look at how I will cope with aging. Stopping or changing what I do entirely in exercise ...maybe can translate into stopping bad habits like speaking ill of others or positively by being kinder to others.
    And when the pain wakes me at night, stop the dialogue and just sit up and meditate. This pain is only the beginning of change made tangible.

  4. I get so easily bummed out by pain. I am then mindful of how the add ons create the suffering, the pain is just pain and yet I keep moving in and out of wishing for the pain free state! It is interesting to watch.

    This is fresh in my mind as I hurt my left shoulder gardening on Saturday. And skillful means took me to my gentle chiro on Monday so am feeling better.

    I believe that if you can alleviate the pain, that is the thing to do. If you can't then you practice with it. There will always be an opportunity to practice with some sort of pain. Never in shortage in this human realm!

  5. Carole (zendot), yes, this is not about 'asking' for or prolonging pain. Rather to live each moment with as much ease as possible, including not fighting pain and unpleasantness when they are guests in hour house . . .

  6. Was Once, you are so wise!

    I too have had to watch out with yoga. Learning to practice more mindfully so as to not hurt the body . . .

  7. Dyamond, yes, that is the beauty of practice. Every moment is a call to practice being mindful, and lovingly kind. It is just sometimes harder depending on conditions.

  8. Moritheil, thank you for visiting!

    I tend to shy away from philosophical thinking as I have found it to be yet another selfing exercise that takes me away from the embodied experience of the moment.