How to remove suffering from pain

published4 months ago
7 min read

Hey there creator,

I want to share something with you that I have been starting to ponder lately about life. ๐Ÿค”

Take a look at this statement:

"Don't resist the pain. Experience the pain. When you experience pain and just observe it, it no longer exists as suffering."

This was the message from Ronan Oliveira, who is one of the trainers for Mindvalley's 10X Fitness program that I am currently going through.

He was making this point because one of the exercises in the program required you to hold the dumbbell you were using while keeping your muscle contracted until you literally couldn't hold it any longer. ๐Ÿ‹๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ

He was talking about how training is not just about improving your fitness and strength but also a journey about experiencing something uncomfortable โ€” something that takes you to your limits. ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿผ

Ronan then went onto say, "the whole fitness journey is about experiencing something new and then noticing how it feels."

This statement triggered something in me... that this idea he was talking about applies to beyond just fitness but life period. ๐Ÿ’ก

And what if this is a simple definition for what life is truly all about?

What if we replaced the word "fitness" in his statement with "life"?

Consider this idea for a moment:

"Life is just about experiencing something new and then noticing how it feels."

Doesn't that in many ways beautifully sum up the human journey?

Growth. Transformation. Change. Evolution. ๐Ÿ›

But those can't happen without experiencing our fair share of pain and discomfort along the journey.

Discomfort and pain come with the territory and when it arrives we expend much of our energy trying to RESIST it.

The immediate reaction of our mind is to avoid it โ€” because we label pain, discomfort, or anything that makes us uncomfortable as negative.

Our knee-jerk reaction is to seek ways to make it go away so we don't have to feel it. ๐Ÿ˜ง

But what happens when we resist pain and discomfort?

It then becomes suffering.

Resisted Discomfort and Pain ๐Ÿ‘‰ Suffering

I remember when I would get a sore throat or even a simple head cold when I was younger, my immediate response would be to hurry over to the pharmacy so I could douse myself with over-the-counter medicines. ๐Ÿ’Š

I knew it wasn't going to get rid of the actual sickness but as far as my mind was concerned, it allowed me to mask the symptoms so I wouldn't have to actually experience the feeling of being sick.

Looking back, this was a form of resistance.

This shows up in other instances in our lives like having to take a cold shower because the hot water is out or being at the beach on a beautiful day but the water is freezing. You want to go in to enjoy the ocean but you don't want to feel the coldness. ๐Ÿ’ง

So what do you do?

You go in but you do everything in your power to resist experiencing the cold.

You slowly dip your body into the water โ€” bracing your shoulders as a way to shield yourself from the dreaded cold and to siphon some warmth.

Your teeth are chattering and you begin to shiver. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

All of these reactions from your body are a by-product of your desire to not feel the cold.

You are resisting the discomfort from the cold and hence you are suffering through the experience.

And while you set the intention to have the experience of going into the ocean, you are resisting the full experience and all the feelings that come along with it.

Because to experience true coldness without the suffering (shivering, teeth chattering, etc.), you have to pay attention to how the cold actually feels.

You have to notice how the water feels on your skin... how the sensations of coldness feel throughout your body.

To truly know what coldness is like, you have to allow yourself to feel it.

So, back to my trainer Ronan's statement from earlier, that paying attention to pain removes the suffering.

Yes, the pain and discomfort from the freezing cold water will still exist... but if we choose not to resist it by actually feeling it, we are no longer suffering.

Instead, the pain and discomfort just become an experience.

This is about deliberately stepping into something uncomfortable and unpleasant.

Leaning into the discomfort.

Breathing into the sensation. ๐Ÿ˜ฎโ€๐Ÿ’จ

Bringing your whole mind to the experience.

This mindset is at the heart of practices like yoga and meditation.

In yoga, when the stretches and poses feel hard on your legs and your lower back, the instructor will tell you to breathe into the pain and pay attention to it. ๐Ÿง˜๐Ÿป

In meditation, one of the first things you learn (hopefully) is that thoughts, feelings, and distractions are all part of the experience โ€” to simply notice them and not resist. The meditation itself becomes a way to experience what it feels like to be distracted and to have racing thoughts.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Because we can't truly experience what something actually is unless we allow it.

๐Ÿ‘‰ We can't truly experience what something feels like unless we immerse ourselves in it.

Whether it's the muscle pain from holding a dumbbell, the cold sensations permeating through our bodies from the ocean water, or even the tension and frustrations we experience when we clash with someone โ€” there is always something to be witnessed and felt in our experience even when we believe it's unpleasant.

Is there a temperature to what you're feeling? A texture? Maybe even a color? Perhaps, a sound?

You may not buy into this idea that paying attention to pain removes suffering.

But if you were to bring your full attention to what the discomfort you're experiencing actually feels like, your mind likely wouldn't realize you're not suffering anyway. ๐Ÿง 

It's too busy noticing the sensations happening inside you... that it doesn't have time to be focused on suffering... or anything else for that matter.

Like I said this is something I've started to ponder, that life indeed might be about just experiencing something new and then seeing how it feels. ๐Ÿคญ

Please keep in mind I'm using the word pain very loosely here as what it means varies from person to person. Also if you are indeed suffering from chronic pain or illness, in no way is this meant to minimize the realness of what you are feeling.

โ€‹Do You Want to be Right or Happy?โ€‹
Michael Easter | 3 minutes

Start asking yourself this question anytime you find yourself in conflict with someone.

Psychologists theorize that our capacity to reason didnโ€™t develop so we could make better decisions, instead, reason likely evolved so we could win arguments. Convincing others we were right helped us gain status and influence. In any debate or argument, our brain uses reason almost like a weapon to protect us and make us look good.

But the majority of our everyday disagreements โ€” in relationships and at work โ€” are astoundingly inconsequential in the grand scheme of our lives. By asking ourselves, โ€œdo I want to be right or happy?โ€ we insert perspective into the equation.

Also by asking "do I want to be right or happy?โ€ can even give us perspective and clarity to see another important fact: We probably arenโ€™t right in most arguments. And neither is the other side.

// A Story of Worthiness ::

โ€‹How to Cultivate a Sense of Unconditional Self-Worthโ€‹
Adia Gooden PhD | 8 minutes

We all have a story when it comes to our journey of self-worth. Not-enoughness is one of the most prevalent spiritual and emotional epidemics in our society that many of us struggle with at some point in our lives.

Education tells us that our worthiness is based on test scores or what school we get into. Commercials and ads tell us weโ€™ll be accepted if we buy things. Social media has us equating follower counts, likes, and retweets with our belongingness. It's all too easy for us to directly tie our self-worth to our accomplishments and accolades. But self-worth isnโ€™t actually about anything we can have more or less of โ€” itโ€™s a deep sense that we deserve to be alive, loved, and cared for.

The author's journey to finding self-worth is a powerful story. If you've ever struggled with self-worth, this article is a must-read.

A Possible Solution to Impostor Syndrome

We often think building up confidence is the solution to imposter syndrome โ€” that we need to psych ourselves up in the mirror, recite positive affirmations, or maybe reaching out to someone we trust for some moral support. But confidence is an emotion which means it's fleeting.

Therapist and author Kathleen Smith talks about how objectivity, not confidence, is the solution to imposter syndrome โ€” explaining that people who tend to be the least anxious about their own skills and abilities can evaluate themselves realistically, without relying too much on praise or criticism from others.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Imposter syndrome surfaces when we are focused on feedback from others (whether it's praise or criticism) rather than the work we are doing itself.

๐Ÿ‘‰ It starts with having your own vision of who want to be and what youโ€™re trying to accomplish. What does success look like for you?

๐Ÿ‘‰ Without your own vision, youโ€™re likely to use other peopleโ€™s reactions as your barometer for success.

Thanks for reading.
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Anthony V. Lombardo
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