Thursday, August 21, 2008

Just after the beginning....

Awakening with an awareness of discomfort in the body, in the mind, of the spirit, there is an immediate choice to make in the morning. I can either disagree with the fact of my pain and try to distract myself with diversions; or I can choose to simply experience it, look deeply into it, respond to it. 

The first strategy, disagreement and distraction, can pretty much guarantee me a day of quiet though familiar woe. It was my strategy of choice for many, many years, and sometimes I'm convinced that this is the typical mode for most people. Disagreeing with and running from the simple fact of pain is the normal course.

On the simplest physical level:  if I awaken and immediately choose to disagree with the fact that premature arthritis makes my ankles and hips ache, even though I am only 53, I enter the day in resentment and bitterness.

Another strategy, though, is to enter deeply into the ache of my ankles and hips, to investigate it, and to wonder about its causes.

When I don't fight my pain, but rather accept it and look into it, what I realize in the case of the physical pain of my joints, is that it arises because I have been motionless for many hours. I hurt in the joints because the energy flow seems to be dammed and restricted within me. The pain begins to dissipate almost as soon as I begin to move and allow the energy to flow once more, which tells me that my suspicion is correct.

I see somewhat the same thing when I stop disagreeing with some experience of emotional or spiritual pain and begin to look into it.  Like physical pain, it quite often arises out of some restriction or energetic friction within me.  If I cling to some hope or ideal or concept, or idea, for example, this often leads to emotional unhappiness, but when this energy moves freely, my pain lessens.

Following closely on the first noble truth ("We hurt"), a second important truth, perhaps equally noble, becomes apparent. Pain and suffering, for me at least, is a matter of frozenness. Pain has trouble existing in conditions where muscles, tendons, joints, thoughts, emotions, concepts, beliefs flow freely. 
(continued above)

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