I recently had an accident in Vietnam. I broke both bones in my left arm, dislocated my wrist and sprained my elbow (I know, it’s a new one on me too). I was in a Vietnamese village with no English-speaking staff and all they would give me for the pain, was paracetamol. This was my home and the location of my surgery for the next five days. The pain could have been horrendous, had I allowed it to be. But as much as we might not believe or realise, pain and suffering can be averted through other techniques, such as meditation. In this situation, I had to use meditation to overcome the pain, because this was the only option I had. It was also the best option I had, regardless of what drugs any hospital may have.
When we experience any form of pain or suffering, we understandably can find it very hard to overcome. Many of us feel that the only way to get through this, is to wait. And whilst time can heal, there are other ways in which you can heal yourself and overcome suffering or pain, regardless of what form it is.
If you're willing to try, follow the steps that I have laid out here and reach out to us if you have any questions or if you require any additional support. Please be assured, it is always possible to be free from pain and suffering if you are open to trying a different perspective. We are all different, so we all respond differently to different approaches.
First things first, we must accept pain. Many people become their pain. It becomes their identity. As Dr John, a famous New Orleans jazz musician once said, “If you don't roll with it, you will roll under it”. I think the literal translation here is simple: if you don't overcome this problem, it will overcome you and this is when things can become very uncomfortable. This doesn't mean just getting on with life. It means acceptance of what this pain is in your life, but also the awareness that you are not this pain.
This first step is undoubtedly the most difficult for most of us. Accepting a loss, a bereavement, a physical injury or the end of a relationship can be very difficult. But if you can say to yourself "I accept this, this has happened to me”, you are already on the path to healing yourself. This connection and relationship that you create with this pain, is really important. It is a feeling, a perception or a view of yours. It is also just like a cloud. And all clouds pass. You cannot attach yourself to this pain, because just like a cloud, it will soon be gone. Just like you cannot love a cloud. You can look and admire this for a moment. But only, for a moment.
Don't fear the pain that you feel at this moment. Don't fight it. Be with it but do not become it.
Speak with others
It is very common to bottle things up at times of difficulty. Putting on a brave face, being strong for others. These are both understandable, but should be avoided. But sometimes we take this approach because we are too afraid to speak about how we feel. Sometimes we do this because we feel we cannot face this suffering. But if you have already worked through the acceptance phase, speaking with others about this will become easier. And speaking with others, will help you to come to terms with things.
If you do not speak about how you feel, you could create a blockage, whether physical, emotional or spiritual. This can lead to further emotional or physical pain, so it is very important that you choose somebody to open up to and share how you feel with.
Identify the gift
In healing, we say that there is a gift in everything. All pain offers a gift of some sort, but in difficult times, it can be tough to discover this.
Let me give you an example. If somebody were to find themselves exiting a relationship, and perhaps this was not their choice, this person may see the gift in this pain as being new found freedom to do whatever they wish. They may see this as the first opportunity in many years to really focus on themselves and love themselves, after much time of putting somebody else before them.
Another example is a physical example from my experience in Vietnam when I broke my arm. I was lucky to survive the incident, and the healthcare that I received was very basic. But at no point did I really worry. I accepted it and very soon, I discovered the gift. For the next few weeks, I only have the use of one hand and arm. And whilst I accept that it is inconvenient, it's made everything I do a little more mindful, a little slower. Everything I do in my usual routine, now feels like a mini meditation. And funnily enough, the second gift that I least expected is that it takes me a lot less time to get ready in the mornings because I no longer have the option to spend unnecessary time making sure that everything is perfect before I leave the house! Who knew that I would actually save time in the mornings. A broken bone is a small pain that will soon go away. And the gifts that have come from this experience are also small. But the awareness of these gifts, provides a healthy mindset and is an important part of my healing process.
I invite you to take a moment and take yourself back to a time when you have suffered from some form pain. Try to reflect on what the gift was. Maybe you didn't see at the time, but perhaps now you can discover this…
Try this meditation practice
Prepare for your meditation just like normal. Visualise the pain. If it is a person, see them. If it is a part of your body, visualise this. Whatever it is, try to see this.
Once you have visualised what you are going to focus on, start to slow down your breath and continue to focus on the image that you have chosen. On each in breath, see the pain gets closer and closer to you. At the end of each in breath it should feel so close that you are almost touching it. As you breathe out each time, see this pain move away from you. see it move away from you, so far that at the end of your out breath, you can barely see it.
Do this for 10 minutes or so each day. It may feel extremely difficult to do this at first, but after a few days you will start to feel stronger, you will start to feel the peace and the freedom that you have given yourself through this very simple practice.
It's not easy, and it does take courage to be able to tackle pain like this. Whether it is physical, emotional or anything else, even if it feels really, really tough, you can overcome it by following these steps. I’ve used meditation techniques in difficult times, whether it’s emotional suffering or most recently when I found myself having surgery in a Vietnamese village to repair my arm.
Please let us know if you try this technique and if you have any questions. As always, if you require further support, please do get in touch.
Further resources on dealing with pain and suffering
Eckhart Tolle, Sadhguru and Mooji
Eckhart Tolle – The End of Suffering
Mooji – How to Use Pain to Find the Way Home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_10WfmnIo8A