Two weeks ago, I started introducing the topic of pain to the eN-Vidyalaya children (age from 4 to 14 y.o), a programme which I volunteer every Sunday as a part of my mission work. In the first lesson, we did an experiment by getting the kids to touch a hot water bag filled with hot water. Basically they were asked to focus on the pain and made it go away. The children initially felt the intense pain from the heat of hot water and withdrew from it immediately. When they were told to bring awareness to their fingers in contact with hot water bag without removing their fingers, they were able to feel the heat at first, then slowly they realised that the pain actually went from intense to rather unnoticeable or enjoyable. From this simple yet powerful exercise, the children learned that their mind could actually change the perception of any physical pain just by bringing in awareness.
Pain is such an interesting topic because it is a subject that everyone can relate to in life regardless of age. Do you know that the most frightening thing in the world is PAIN? People don’t fear death as much as they fear the pain and agony at the time of death. We may be afraid of poverty, relationship problems or diseases, but if we look deeply the root cause of all these fears, it is the pain that happens while going through these experiences. All these fears are because of the fear of pain.
You may know that there are 3 types of pain – physical pain, emotional pain and mental pain. Physical pain is the basic necessity for the body or else we could be doing all detrimental things to this body. Emotional pain is the pain of losing someone or being separated from somebody very close or when trust is abused by someone. Mental pain is the pain experienced when we are forced to do something which we dislike or when our ego is bruised by abusive or derogatory words. Whether it is physical, mental or emotional pain, we need to understand that pain is always born from resistance to the present moment i.e. not able to accept what life is presenting in front of us.
Pain is a great teacher, it constantly reminds us to work on our ego and get back to our presence. Pain is the attention seeking activity of our body, signalling to our mind that we need to pay attention to our body. When we give attention to a particular area, that attention becomes energy for that area which aids in healing it. The moment we lack attention, then pain invariably happens. Therefore, pain is actually the absence of attention, so the solution to get out of pain is by giving your presence.
A lot of times, we invite pain to ourselves with our immoderate habits, stressful lifestyles and the bad choices we make in our lives. We condition ourselves and influence those around us, then we get upset and hurt when pain comes to us. If we are able to bring awareness in every moment, we will be able to avoid painful incidences. When pain is experienced over time, this residual accumulated pain creates a negative energy field around us which is called the pain body. This pain body constantly attracts the same kind of people and situations in our life until we learn to break this vicious cycle by going beyond it. By the very law of nature, we attract similar situations into our lives. So the more pain we harbour, the more pain we attract into our lives.
If we are able to let go and carry on, we don’t feel the pain at all. Pain is nothing but a mental reaction to the external events. It is a state of mind which determines our subjective perceptions of the outer world. The mind has a tremendous influence over the body – whether to create a pain body or a lovely body which is alive. We have a complete freedom in choosing our response to external events. For instance, when someone points out our mistakes, it gives us awareness and we should be grateful to them for bringing it up to our attention and enlightening us. The very thought change of shifting the perception can drastically alter our response at that moment. Same way can be handled when someone shout at you out of anger unconsciously, just think of the moments when they have been nice to you.
Finally, at a more subtle level, if we look deeply within, every pain is because of our internal investment of our ego. Wherever we have invested our ego, we will suffer. So if we work on destroying our ego by dissolving those investments, we are attending our pain body and expanding its boundary. Expansion of our inner space is the only way because when we expand, we are able to feel less or no pain towards the incidents that happen. We learn to see life as a constant change of incidents, we learn to adapt to these changing incidents without resistance and just flow with life as it presents itself to us.