Shinzen Young - Break Through Pain Synopsis
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I'm reminded of a couple of days walking the Thames path with M. a few of Summers back. We'd walk a little way and then stop to watch a bee for ten minutes before carrying along our way. I'd become aware that M. was no longer beside me, turn around and she'd be a long way behind, only a few yards on in fact from where we had last stopped, watching a mayfly say. And so it would go on, every few yards we would stop for another ten minutes or so, another bee, a flower, a worm..... When the guide books give you an idea of how long a walk will take they don't take my beloved into account : )
I think my Kidney stone is a little like that, seems in no particular hurry, no rush.
The pain medication is taking the edge off, I take them every six hours and as long as I lay still for the first four it's quite comfortable. I can sit up or stand for about five minutes, ten minutes at most before I feel the need to lay down again. That leaves two hours in between taking the pills when the pain starts coming back with a vengeance, at first it's just a discomfort, last half hour, bit of a bugger.
Supposedly the Naproxene will make moving around a little easier once it does whatever it is it does.
Oh, got notification of my scan appointment.... 8th August! Got to love the NHS. A month away, day before we fly to Crete in fact. I called up and explained the ruddy thing was on the move now, that metaphorically speaking my water had broke, they managed to shift it to next week, still hoping it will have left by then.
Bit of a challenge then to start looking at it in relation to something a little more....acute.
I figure I have a week or so before the Stone finally decides to part company.
But I'll need to be back at work before then, sitting at my bench all day, could use any help I can get from Shinzen, Ines, Gil....
Let you know how I get on in follow up post, say, a week from now.
Here are some links.
A link to the Audio Dharma page on Insight meditation on pain
Working with Pain
Working With Pain in Meditation and Daily Life
Thank you to Angela for the link to Shinzen's Soundstrue talks.
|Link to Amazon preview|
A Synopsis of Shinzen Young’s book
Break Through Pain
Here are the first two pages of the synopses as a preview
As soon as pain arises in the body, the mind becomes preoccupied with how to get relief. If we can remove the cause of the pain or numb it with analgesics, that’swell and good. But most people, at some time in their lives, face significant pain from which they cannot escape; and millions of people, victims of disease or injury, must live each day in unavoidable and often excruciating pain.
If we cannot escape from the pain, must we then experience abject and meaningless suffering? No, there is an alternative, a way to escape not from pain but into it. We can apply mindfulness meditation to the pain.
Mindfulness meditation is a way of focusing awareness on the pain and observing it with precision, while at the same time opening up to it and dropping resistance. As we develop this skill, the pain causes less suffering, and may even “break up”into a flow of pure energy. This may sound too good to be true, but it is a fact that has been discovered by thousands of people. The technique of mindfulness takes time, effort and determination, but anyone can learn to develop this skill with regular practice. I want to be honest with you though. Managing pain through meditation is usually not a quick fix. But that is compensated for by the fact that it is a deep and broad fix. What I mean by “deep and broad”should become tangible to you as you proceed through this article.
The meditative approach to working with pain presents us with two challenges. The first challenge is conceptual: to understand the pain process in a new way, radically different from the usual. Often it takes time and struggle before this new paradigm is accepted, but it is well worth it, because this new way of looking at things gives us so much power and clarity.
The second challenge is practical: to acquire the focusing skills and concentration needed to experience pain in a new, empowering way. This involves the systematic, sustained practice of mindfulness exercises such as those given on my tapes and CDs.
Pain comes in various “flavors”or types, such as burning, aching, shooting, itching, pressure or nausea. A person may experience several flavors simultaneously and a given flavor may vary in its intensity. For example, a burning may range from mild to fainting intensity.
What makes the method of “observing and opening”so extraordinary and powerful is that it works for all types of painful experiences, regardless of the type of pain, its intensity, or its cause: injuries, allergies, menstrual cramps, chronic fatigue syndrome, back pain and even the pain of terminal illness, such as cancer or AIDS. Indeed the same basic concepts and skills work equally well when applied to emotional pain such as anger, grief, fear and guilt.
As a result of this purification you will eventually experience an increased sense of oneness and connectedness with all things; a decrease in negative emotions; a sense of happiness independent of your circumstances; and the disappearance of imprints and limiting conditioning from the past. Associated with this transformation of consciousness is a distinct feeling which I call the “flavor of purification.”It is the good feeling that comes as a person is experiencing painful feelings in a skillful way.
Once you begin to develop a taste for this flavor of purification, pain, even horrible pain, becomes meaningful. Suffering diminishes and eventually is completely eclipsed by the joy of purification. This is what I mean by escaping into pain. If the pain is severe, and you are able to escape into it, you will experience an egoless state, a direct communion with the spiritual source.
The method of mindfulness applied to pain may appear to be very challenging. At first you may not have good concentration. Your mind will wander a lot and you will have to bring it back over and over again. But just as in any other exercise, skill comes with time and practice.
Short Example of How to Meditate on Pain
I would like to give you a tangible sense of the experience of mindfulness. Close your eyes and let your whole body relax and settle in. Pick one area where pain is significant.
Get a clear sense of the size and shape of the painful region. Is it long, round, triangular or some other shape? Is it flat like a pancake or does it have a three-dimensional volume? Is it uniform or does it have areas of greater or lesser intensity within it? Are its borders sharp or diffuse? Does it spread any influence through the body or is it completely isolated? –You now have a much clearer and more precise sense of the painful sensation.
Now observe even more carefully, as though the pain were a living being in its own right, as though it were, for example, a lizard on a wall. How and when will this creature move? Will its borders change? Will it get stronger or weaker? Will its center shift? Watch very carefully for a while and notice that every few seconds the pain may change, if only in a tiny way. Every time the pain changes in any little way, relax your whole mind and body into it and just observe it without judgment. You may have to try this exercise many times but eventually the pain will reveal its wave nature. When it does, surf the waves!
This is a first step in developing the skill of mindfulness of pain. It is true that sometimes the pain may seem to get worse as you focus on it. This, however, is a temporary phenomenon.
and one more link
Why Mindfulness Can Make Life More Painful