Looking into the Experience of Pain: An Exploration

[ This post is a copy of the new page of the same name. It’s here because readers and other people regularly either ask me about pain and meditation, or else mention that they live with chronic pain. There is no medical advice here, merely a basis for one’s own investigation. ]

Most of us experience physical pain at some point, due to injury or serious illness. Some people live with chronic pain which threatens their employment, their mobility, mental health, even their wish to continue living.

Recently some very curious results concerning research into pain perception have come to light. These results suggest that pain has less to do with actual physical harm than with perception of harm by the brain.









Dr. John Sarno on back pain: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwxPy4HVvLI


These comments by meditators regarding their experiences of physical pain point in a similar direction:

Sometimes, when resistance ceases, the pain simply goes away or swindles to an easily tolerable ache. At other times it remains, but the absence of any resistance brings about a way of feeling pain so unfamiliar as to be hard to describe. The pain is no longer problematic. I feel it, but there is no urge to get rid of it, for I have discovered that pain and the effort to be separate from it are the same thing. Wanting to get out of pain is the pain; it is not the “reaction” of the “I” distinct from the pain. When you discover this, the desire to escape “merges” into the pain itself and vanishes. Discounting aspirin for a moment, you cannot remove your head from a headaches you can remove your hand from a flame. “You” equals “head” equals “ache.” When you actually see that you are the pain, pain ceases to be a motive, for there is no one to be moved. It becomes, in the true sense, of no consequence. It hurts——period.  ~Alan Watts

I had a kidney stone attack once. Said to be one of the most painful things you can experience. I went into deep meditation and fully embraced the sensation. Then it was seen visually as a white, glowing compact brick and it became quite interesting to investigate and didn’t “hurt” at all. It became a quite interesting sensation and the identification with it as “mine” just dropped. After just a few minutes of curiously investigating it it just dissolved. =) I’m bound to agree – pain is illusion.                                   ~ Eva Charlotte Jonzon

One thing I learned from my injured hand is that pain is just a message that asks us to pay attention, to notice. It is *not* a message that tissues are damaged or even in danger! Perception matches the current experience with past experiences and decides whether, on the basis of remembered inputs, there is a good chance that the present experience is dangerous. If yes, then pain; if no, no pain. Even when there is damage to the tissues, it can be painless.Watch the Lorimer Moseley videos; read his book. These and V. S. Ramachandran redirected my focus away from the ‘pain’ of the inflamed tendon toward the wholeness of the body. Pain is a mental response to a perceived problem; it occurs whether or not there is actual damage to the tissues. Pain is NOT real; it is a response to stimulus, conditioned by perception, that is, a conglomeration of memories of prior experience. Check it! ~Nona Parry

Ken Malloy writes a blog about pain here: http://www.healingbackpain.com/blog/


Meditation teacher Shinzen Young contributes specific techniques for pain meditation:

1) Breakthrough Pain Synopsis : www.shinzen.org/Articles/artPain.pdf

2) Pain Processing Algorithm : www.shinzen.org/Articles/artPainProcessingAlgorithm.pdf


This author wrote one related blog post here: http://wp.me/p1QwdP-74



  • This page is a work in progress, and will be updated as new links and information appear.
  • The contents of this page are presented here to intrigue and to provide a starting point for further investigation so that readers may look and see for themselves whether they find truth or even utility in whatever they discover.
  • The subject material pertains to attention and perception; elements common to human experience, including both meditation and physical pain.
  • The author is not providing medical advice in any way whatsoever.                               Consult a medical professional for medical advice.


About dominic724

A former seeker starts blogging.
This entry was posted in Human Experience, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Looking into the Experience of Pain: An Exploration

  1. Menno says:

    I am merely describing how pain ‘unfolds’ here. One may get ‘hit’ by some disease. Pain and suffering then happens. What may occur is in experiencing pain and suffering (yes I say suffering), that these ‘happenings’ are related to physical resistance, biological resistance. Completely human. So pain, suffering is of course real, but to whom? The I thoughts may or may not still occur, as for sure appearances, experiences such as pain and suffering. There seems to be much ‘opinions’ going on how to ‘deal’ with pain… Do you really belief that pain and suffering will place ‘you’ in a separate painless ‘position’ as in being able to ‘deal’ with pain or suffering? Come on, of course not. Pain, suffering are real and not ‘some’ illusion. Shit happens.
    The only thing what may occur is that the complete experience of pain, suffering can be seen for what it is. Acceptance not done by me. ‘Attention’, ‘seeing’ as in 1 but not 2, that ‘window’ may open. So pain, suffering, thoughts about it how to ‘deal’ with it happens. Now interesting to read some people say that pain is not real, what a crap is that? Pain and biological resistance happens and are real for sure. What may or may not happen is not yours, pain or suffering still happens. Trying to ‘out-think’ such experiences is futile and root of more suffering. If I experience pain, and suffering I do not have time or ‘desire’ to think about it and to try to ‘deal’ with it. I simply swallow medication and have my own things how to deal with it and ‘relax’. Once pain there is, do you think you are able to think yourself out of it? Mental story about dealing with pain in the hope one may see that pain is not real? That will not happen.
    I am writing about how things were unfolding here. For me here pain, suffering was an open window as invitation. Some nitpickers will not agree, but then again which side you stand. It makes a big difference whether you are healthy or sick. The safe haven of health makes it tempting to deny pain, suffering, appearances, with statements that these such as pain etc. are not real.
    Sickness, pain, suffering are difficult to abstract, but can lead to the rediscovery. In words I can only say that there is no gimmick or trick possible to abuse this as ‘entrance’. ‘Letting’ yourself of the ‘hook’ may or may not happen during pain and resistance. What is seen is that pain is, suffering is, both exists as body experiences. And how these things may or may not seen related to some ‘advaita’ or ‘enlightenment’ exploration is not important then or ‘after’.

  2. Pingback: For those who argue over the existence of language, God, or atheism « JRFibonacci's blog: partnering with reality

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s