Eighteenth in a series.
The unease of ordinary unconsciousness turns into the pain of deep unconsciousness -- a state of more acute and more obvious or suffering or unhappiness -- when things 'go wrong,' when the ego is threatened or there is a major challenge..." Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now, page 73.
In this series about Tolle's book, "The Power of Now," I am discussing, chapter by chapter, what Tolle has taught me about pain management. And because this blog is about spirituality as well as about living with chronic pain, the book -- the subtitle of which is A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment -- gives me a lot of material. I'm not trying to teach Tolle to my readers: that task is beyond my capabilities. But I am trying to show how Tolle's guidance broadens, deepens and gives spiritual dimension to our desire to live well with chronic pain. And allowing spirituality to infuse our pain and thus our lives means that our pain, rather than being a barrier to a fuller, richer life, becomes the doorway to a fuller, richer life.
In my previous post, I began with Chapter Four, in which Tolle discusses ordinary unconsciousness, and deep unconsciousness. Tolle describes what he calls a constant "background static," that causes us a general unease. When we live unaware of this human tendency to vague anxiety, it devolves into deep unconsciousness, described in the quote that begins this post.
Talk about background static! How about this inner dialogue: Oh, no, I feel a migraine coming on. What about that meeting this evening - how am I going to manage that? And I haven't even thought about dinner yet - is there anything in the fridge? I hate this feeling. Last thing I need right now is another migraine... And on and on and on.
Left to itself, the inner pain dialogue feeds on its own momentum, sinking into the deep unconsciousness that Tolle describes. What about that meeting? becomes I'm worthless, can't do anything any more. I hate this feeling becomes It's hopeless and I can't do anything about it. What Tolle is saying, though, is that these more destructive thoughts happen at a deeper level of the unconscious mind. They take on a hidden power over all we do, including how we choose to live with our pain. Really, we cannot choose how we live when we are in the power of this negativity that hides in the shadows of our minds. We are under its control because we are "taken over by a reaction, which ultimately is some sort of fear, and pulled into deep unconsciousness." (page 74)
So there we are, not only in pain throughout much of our lives, but overpowered by fear and thrust into deep unconsciousness. In our right minds, none of us would ever choose to be so miserable. I think that Tolle might say that we simply are not in our right minds when pulled so far down by fear.
So, how to maintain and nurture our right minds, enhancing our pain management skills and letting pain take us to spiritual enlightenment? I will explore some strategies in my next post.
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