photo by sam manns via unsplash.com
What does it mean to remove pain?
You have pain. And then you don't. Et voila! Pain is removed.
So why is it *rarely* that simple? Let's dig deeper and look at what pain is before we talk about removing it "just like that".
Pain is an interpretation -by the brain- of a signal from the body (including the brain).
For example, when you cut your finger, the tissues that make up that part of your finger are now "damaged" - there's been an injury to the physical tissues. And this occurrence gets reported to the brain. The brain then decides what kind of emergency the signal indicates and how to respond. The factors that go into interpreting an event in the body as pain can be physical and emotional and situational, making it a complex thing to parse, but basically you feel pain often when the brain interprets the signal as worthy of attention.
So pain is an interpretation of an event that creates a signal.
To get rid of pain, you can take one or both of two approaches:
1. Get rid of the signal
2. Change the interpretation
Meditation essentially works on the second level, changing the interpretation. But sometimes it's not "conscious" so it may feel more like the first is what's happening. It helps to both trust the process and participate a little.
How does that work?
Trust the process by committing to doing the practice (as instructed to the best of your ability), even if you "suck" at it. Get a guide (like this podcast) to keep you on track!
Participate by knowing that pain comes in two threads (signal + interpretation), and work on changing the one that you can (the interpretation). Try to turn it around to see it from a different perspective. Never done that before? Try to find someone who has and ask for suggestions.
Here I'm going to encourage you to go in with a growth mindset (if you didn't catch my intro on mindsets last week, check out episode #216), because when you're in pain, you often have fear. Fear that the pain indicates something very bad or that it won't change. And yet the signal is there to get you to change... which is a type of growth.
Of course, with stress, your pain may be far removed from the moment when you sit down to meditate, and so it's possible you'll forget the motivation the pain inspired in the first place and give up before you've given meditation a chance (that sounds like something I would do ;P).
To avoid this, it helps to know that lasting change comes after a period of practice. Which means you have to stay with it and truly test it.
And even if the pain is present and loud, it may take some time to get the hang of the practice in order to shift your pain.
So try, try again and don't give up! Or pick a time period (like 3 months) and stick with it for at least that long.
Listen to the episode for more of my thoughts on removing pain through meditation and a growth mindset.
Listen to "Ep 223 - Pain, Mindset, and Meditation" on Spreaker.
Below is the week's "full practice" episode. Click here to listen to the "how to practice" instructions.
I'd love to hear about your experience -- and help out with any questions you have.
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