At a day-long class almost an hour’s drive from home, the level of physical pain rose inexorably all morning. When attention for objects other than the pain faded into the background, the class ( and most everything else ) fell crashing down the pyramid of the Needs Hierarchy to rest in a steaming, jumbled heap on the ground.
Fortunately, the physical body maintained verticality long enough to excuse itself and reach the car. Once in the driver’s seat, the mere act of guiding the vehicle safely home demanded virtually all available physical energy.
This is what I found from that experience:
Pain may reduce physical options; mental options not so much.
The roads that led to my house sprouted a convenience store or gas station every mile, any of which would sell the standard over-the-counter pain pills. To stop, get out of the car, interact, get back into the car, etc., presented an unimaginable effort. Per William James, a ” dead option”.
Still, attention made itself available to explore the pain.
Where is it , exactly ?
Where are its boundaries ?
What are its qualities ?
Increasing or decreasing ?
Moving or still ?
Aching or sharp ?
Where is it not ?
What still feels good ?
How is the breath ?
Is it smooth and free ?
Can more relaxation be found in the breath ?
Exploring the pain with an attitude of relaxed curiosity showed that the pain was not what it seemed.
The boundary of this pain spilled and blurred all over the body core.
It had no definite center, nor even a central area that did not shift moment to moment.
Intensity waxed and waned in different regions at different times.
The more relaxing around the pain, the less intense it felt.
Wishing love for others reduces pain.
At some point, tried the lovingkindness practice of wishing happiness to anyone who came to mind. The teacher of the class. People I knew. My dog. Any being whatsoever.
Pain level decreased.
Was the decrease from mere distraction ? Or does other-centeredness reduce the intensity of physical pain beyond mere distraction therapy ?
Pain is like a force of nature.
As a thunderstorm roils and crashes, pain creates effects within attention affecting experience.
Just as a thunderstorm changes from instant to instant, so did this interior weather change inner experience.
Unowned pain hurts less, because fear is missing.
This pain was not happening to anyone. This was seen. So the relationship with pain was void of the fear of continuance.
No chilling thoughts of a future “me” arose, plagued by the unrelenting presence of this harsh energy.
“Just this”, as in, this instant.
“Just this” made exceptional company that day !
Enough pain changes the values of the moment.
Other than what is described here, little else occupied this attention for the ride home, save safe driving habits.
No thoughts of non-duality, no thoughts of politics, no desires other than described.
Almost everything in the mental world vanished in the presence of pain.
This experience only lasted a few hours on one day.
Some people have to bear repeating patterns of pain for extended periods, even for years.
When pain leaves, it’s as if it was never there. Almost.
After the pain was quelled, what remained ?
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Maslow’s Heirarchy Pyramid from here.
Thunderstorm from here.