Meeting pain with awareness, acceptance, compassion and mindfulness
You can´t go through life without getting hurt and feeling pain. When we experience pain, whether emotional, physical or spiritual our first reaction isn´t always helpful. Finding our way back to the heart and learning how to be present when the pain arises hepls us to help ourselves. It also helps us to be there for others if we are compassionate towards our own suffering.
How do you react when you are in pain? Are you aware of it and accept it? Would you like to learn a more healing and compassionate way to respond?
Moving from Reacting to Responding
The practice of mindfulness, and specifically self-compassion, helps us soften the resistance. We stop trying to escape, control, or ignore the pain and instead open to it. Staying present, we begin to investigate, through the practice of nonjudgmental awareness and kindness, how our body reacts to pain (tightening/tension); how our thoughts are affected (fear, anger, aversion); and what emotions are in need of attention and loving acceptance. This pausing to connect is a pivotal moment, one where we’re shifting from reacting to responding.
Deepening our exploration, we can practice the following steps: Connect with the breath. Notice areas of tightness, tension, or pain in the body. Send a compassionate, soothing breath to the parts of the body that are distressed. Close your eyes. Notice if there’s some fear-based belief operating in the background. Try not to get hooked in the story. Instead, gently focus on the breath, allowing the rhythm to soothe the body and emotions. Acknowledge the feelings that are present and notice where they show up in your body.
Sometimes sadness is felt in the heart area, anxiety in the stomach, anger as a tightening of the muscles. See if you can soften around what you’re feeling. Place your hand on your heart as a gesture of love and compassion. Imagine the hurt as a small child in need of affection and attention. Surround the child/hurt in a warm embrace. If overwhelmed by emotional pain, go for a walk, focus on the sensation of your body moving, and breathe in and out with each step. Take in the sounds of nature or listen to calming music. Let the sounds move through you, soothing the hurt/pain. Take a restorative yoga class to help you learn to attune to body, mind, and heart in ways that restore balance and promote healing. This is a powerful, transformative, and healing approach that helps us stay present to the pain and challenges we all face in life. Most of all, it helps us stay open to all of life’s joys and sorrows—and that is what makes life worth living.
May you live with ease and peace.
Love, peace and wisdom