In life, pain happens. You have accidents and you contract diseases that cause physical pain. Life events and circumstances swirl around you. People and pets die. People get divorced, People lose jobs and fail tests. Financial situations change. Mental and emotional pain happen. Physical, mental and emotional pain arise in reaction to events and circumstances. You get cancer and it is painful. A child dies and you feel overwhelmed with pain. The one you love leaves and your heart breaks. Your pain is real. It can be the sensation the body physically feels. It can be what the mind experiences as a circumstance unfolds. It can be the emotions that wash over you as you feel discomfort, loss, heart-break or dissonance.
Circumstances cause pain to arise. That arising, in that moment, is not generally your choice. But the subsequent reaction to pain is yours to decide. Pain does not require suffering. It may require that you feel pain, but the unfolding progression of suffering is generally an unconscious choice and a collective agreement. When you become aware of why you suffer, that awareness gives you a conscious choice to remain in suffering or to discard it. To remain in peace, happiness and fulfilment or to remain in suffering becomes your decision. Understanding the process empowers you. While pain is not an immediate choice there are ways to hold pain so it does not trigger the progression of suffering.
When pain arises, respond with mindfulness; bringing awareness to the pain, in the present moment, without judgment, in neutrality. This is the power of mindfulness – present moment awareness without judgment. Holding the pain in this way helps stop the fear reaction from triggering the suffering.
Holding pain in acceptance, in the present moment, in neutrality, without judgment creates space. Space gives you the ability to make conscious what was an unconscious reactive progression of fear and suffering. Being with the pain, as it is, now, in neutrality changes reactivity to response. It allows acceptance. Acceptance permits the fear and aversion reactions to ease.
Bringing light to the darkness disempowers the darkness. Bringing the light of awareness to the pain disempowers the energy surrounding the painful experience. Holding pain in an optimal way requires non-judgment and neutrality and that is accepting what is, as it is now. Non-judgment and accepting don’t mean that what happened was OK. It means you accept what is – you accept that there is pain, in this moment, exactly as it is, in neutrality.
To avoid the unfolding of the suffering reaction, hold pain on its own, without the fear, separation, personalization, stories, beliefs and patterns that constitute your suffering response. When you add to the pain you suffer. The pain is what it is, but what you do with it is what creates suffering.
The first universal unconscious reactive response to pain is fear. When there is pain and there is no space, when there is no acceptance, when there is no neutrality, fear arises.