23 February 2012

"The Power of Now" and Pain: Bringing Resistance to Consciousness

Ninth in a series.

In my previous post and the one before it, I have been reflecting on this quote, and how it relates to pain management, from Chapter Two of Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now:

The [suffering] that you create now is always some form of nonacceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is. On the level of thought, resistance is some form of judgment. On the level of emotion, it is some form of negativity. (The Power of Now, page 33)

How do we bring our resistance to pain into consciousness?  We must know when we are doing it, or we cannot change it: when we are not aware that we are resisting, the thoughts grab hold and exert immense power over us.  Awareness is the key.  Indeed, awareness is what Tolle is writing about through the entire book, that and ego. 

By the way, I have found the work of Anthony deMello to be wonderful for teaching about awareness by showing us how asleep (as he says it) we are and guiding us with humor and compassion on the journey to greater awareness and greater love.

I have learned two ways to bring my inner resistance to the physical pain of the migraines to the conscious level:

1. Listen to my thoughts.
2. Pay attention to my body.

(You may have noticed that, whenever I make lists like this, they are very simple -- elemental, really.  That's because the last thing I need or want when in pain is some complicated or intellectual system that only frustrates me and stresses me out because it's really hard to think when the pain is bad.)

So, back to the list.

In reality, this is not as easy as it sounds.  As Tolle says, we are generally so immersed in our thoughts and so much at their mercy and so habituated to being that way that we are completely unaware it's happening.   So this pain management practice is really a spiritual discipline that must be practiced with deep and intentional attention.  There is the topic for my next post!

I have found this to be easier than listening to my thoughts, perhaps because I've been athletic most of my life.  This step actually has three sub-steps:
     a. Learn relaxation techniques.  I have posted about this here and here and here.
     b. Notice how various muscles and muscle groups feel when they are tense; feel the contrast with that relaxed sensation.
     c. Use your deep muscle relaxation skills for both focusing on the specific muscles when they tense up due to pain AND practice your deep muscle relaxation whenever you feel pain approaching.

If you practice yoga or are otherwise athletic, you are likely to have an easier time with this step.  And that leads me to the next point: it is only minimally effective to practice relaxation when the pain is upon you.  Think of this more as a spiritual discipline or a lifestyle change, and then your tools will be handy and more natural when you reach for them while in pain.

Now it is time for me to practice what I preach and go take care of this migraine.  May you be well and at peace today.

I would love to hear from you.  Please use the Comment link below, or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.  Thank you.

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