Pain as a portal

My solitude is leaking. There is an invisible, terminal friend that always beckons for attention: pain. Random assaults of stinging back pain, on the cushion, in the chair, laying down, walking; there is no safe shelter. It numbs my senses and distracts my thoughts. How to stay completely present when the body is crumbling?

Pain is showing what the realisation (or self recognition, or truth of you want) is not: it’s not an experience, not a relaxation or a pleasant feeling in the body. Regardless of the conditions of my body, what is essential in me has not changed. I am not my body. There is no need to do anything (given that appropriate care for and stewardship of my body has happened). Identifying with pleasant feelings and well-being would draw me into wanting more of what is pleasant and less of what is unpleasant, which is the slippery slope to permanent unrest and misery.

As long as there is anticipation or hope, I am living with concepts, with an image. It blocks my access to the immediate imprint of the moment. It is not the pain itself that causes agitation. It is the fear of an upcoming blow and the fantasies of incurability.

Pain throws me into humility. Just a small injury, and the illusory sense of strength and control disappears. Such a splendid disrobing of my autonomy and dethronement of enjoyment and well-being as the essence and meaning of life. It teaches compassion by drawing me closer to the pain of others. This uninvited companion that we are required to befriend, willingly or unwillingly, it doesn’t matter. It is an intimate relationship with the unknown and the unpredictable, accepting and listening to what is there, wanting it -so paradoxically- as a practice of gratitude for life itself.

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