I squirm in my fleshy prison of illness and pain, and I suffer.
This disease, this injury – so unwanted, so unfair – it debilitates my fragile body, and tortures my exhausted mind, preventing me from truly living.
I am a ghost of my former ‘self’. Now, I am ‘a sick person’, afflicted with a disease, a victim of illness, a sufferer of bad karma. Life did this to me.
Is this really true?
My battle with pain only brings immense frustration, resentment and anger at myself, devastating my hope and faith in life. My attempts to be strong, stoic and brave only leave me feeling inadequate and a failure.
My thoughts ensnare me with their stories, about how my pain will never end or get worse… my body has turned against me… I don’t deserve this suffering… I should be able to heal.
And my mind exhausts me with an endless list of ‘shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’, as I frantically try to control and manipulate my experience in each arising moment – always trying to escape the pain.
Why am I so violent towards myself? – towards the one who is sick and who needs the most love and compassion.
If my battle with pain is not helping me, perhaps there is a more loving way?
What if, physical pain can be a beautiful and profound gift, gently unwrapping itself inside my heart, revealing a doorway of grace, through which I can find absolute freedom from suffering?
I gently invite the pain into my heart, and I notice fear arising, with a knee-jerk response to escape. But it’s impossible for me to escape what is arising now, because it has already arisen. So I intimately explore the pain, and I notice that whilst physical pain is very real, my mental suffering is actually caused by my resistance to pain, not by the pain itself.
What if, I can heal from my mental suffering, by letting go of my resistance to physical pain?
My mind fumbles around this truth, because my mind feels and resists pain so simultaneously, that there seems to be no separation between pain and resistance. But there is a difference, very subtle and quiet – only noticed with awareness – pain arising as energy and sensations… resistance arising as intense suffering in the mind.
This subtle difference between pain and resistance pierces my awareness, enabling me to let go of my resistance – story after story, ‘should’ after ‘should’, ‘shouldn’t’ after ‘shouldn’t’.
Pain is not the enemy, but a powerful anchor to my present moment experience, a powerful pointer towards the reality of life unfolding now. If I surrender to this reality and the physical pain it brings, I see that healing is not always the absence of pain. Healing is also the acceptance of pain… leading to the absence of mental suffering. And as I let go of all my resistance, I release the mental energy it devoured, which my body can now use to heal.
And as I tenderly embrace my pain in each arising moment, I can also let go of my identification with that pain. Because pain simply arises, flows and falls in the space of awareness that I am. Pain does not belong to me, and is not a tangible entity. It simply arises as energy, and I simply witness as awareness.
In recognizing that the pain is not ‘me’, I suddenly realise that ‘I’ have always been whole and healed, and ‘I’ always will be. Because I am not just this fragile and wounded body. I am not just this tortured suffering mind.
Beyond all form, I witness myself as a boundless awareness, a timeless space where pain, suffering and acceptance arise as parts of the wholeness that I am – an unconditional acceptance where nothing is rejected, because everything that I witness, has already been allowed to arise. And everything that arises is both loved, and love itself.
As I recognize that physical pain is just another form of the love that I am, I drop all my mind’s stories about pain, suffering and acceptance.
And I notice that awareness cannot suffer. Awareness simply is.