Whenever we are presented with pain in our life, whether it is emotional, mental or physical, we push back, resisting it. We want it to go away, wish for it to disappear, desire to change it, control it, make it different than the way it is. We want to escape.
But if you look closely, you’ll see that doing so only makes the pain, the suffering worse. In fact the suffering itself is actually created by the resistance to the pain. As the saying goes – “In life, pain is inevitable, yet suffering is optional”.
So whenever you feel any form of pain, instead of resisting it, embrace it.
As the wonderful Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh says – treat your fear, your anger, your grief….your pain, like a mother treats her child. Embrace it, hold it in the loving attention of your awareness.
Firstly, become present to what you are feeling now. Allow yourself to notice every aspect of your experience, from the emotional sensation, to the pictures, to the thoughts.
Then notice the silent peace, the stillness, the spaciousness in the background. It may be slight at first, but simply allow yourself to notice it, become aware of it, in order to help it grow and to see how the pain is only a superimposition onto this stillness.
As you then embrace your pain, as you engulf it in a loving, open awareness, in a welcoming presence, it will slowly start to dissipate.
If you find it helpful, you can breathe through it and breathe into it. Use your breath to help hold you conscious attention on the pain and to help you in embracing it. Breathing is magical and the breath can serve both as an anchor for awareness as well as means to help dissolve the pain that you are experiencing. If you choose to have the breath as your aid, remember to breathe correctly – allow your breathing to be slow and gradual, breathe through your nose and not your mouth. A very helpful practice is to breathe into the pain, helping it dissolve.
As you do so place your awareness on your body and allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling fully. If there are any pictures in your awareness or indeed thoughts, allow yourself to notice them.
The most important thing is to be completely aware (in a welcoming manner) of what you are feeling (including any pictures in awareness), while dropping the identification with thoughts that accompany the feelings (or indeed seeing the stories for the illusions they are). Feeling the feelings fully, becoming aware of them fully while not thinking about them is often enough for the mental identification to drop away or become seen as illusory. However in many cases this does not happen, in which case it is (as explained below) a good idea to notice and become aware of the stories and beliefs that keep you hooked into the story, that you identify with and see as true for you.
So now look for the thoughts and beliefs that accompany the emotional energy. Notice them in your mind, notice how you are identified with them and the stories they weave. Bring them to the light of consciousness – if you find it helpful write them down. It is often that simply by noticing them in combination with feeling the emotion, they will dissipate on their own or begin to feel like the illusions and lies that they are.
It is crucial to notice and acknowledge the (limiting and based on distorted perceptions) thoughts and beliefs that accompany your feelings and become aware of them – it is the holding on to those thoughts and beliefs that keep you hooked in your problems and suffering. It is the identification with them that keeps you locked in. So it is important to see the stories for what they are – stories in your mind, not who you ultimately are. Painful stories and beliefs are usually based on limited and distorted perceptions of situations, people, ideas…so it is helpful to question the assumptions behind them (Byron Katie’s Work can be very helpful here). As you become aware of, feel and dissolve your emotions, the stories will be seen through more easily as well.
At this point, if you wish, you can go deeper. Inquiring into the mind what the deeper cause of the pain and distress is. Allow yourself to ask the questions, stay open to the answers and acknowledge them. Any further emotions, thoughts and beliefs that come up can be dealt in a similar way. Such inquiry will deepen your freedom and give your more insights into your mind.
Questions are powerful tools for self-discovery. You can think up of questions for deeper inquiry on your own, but some examples could be: “What is really bothering me?”, “What is the source of this pain, emotions…?”, “What is the cause (or deeper cause) of this?”, “How am I creating this?”, “What are you trying to tell me (to the subconscious mind)?”.
Now, allow yourself to notice that which is beyond your pain, your emotions, or any thoughts that may have arisen. Allow yourself to embrace the silence, without which no sound can exist, the space all around you, without which no matter could be placed, as well as the space between thoughts and the feeling of space and stillness in your own body. By looking beyond what is manifested, you will encounter a faint stillness at first, a sense of peace and calm. Slowly, as you give it attention, this will grow into a far deeper peace, that includes joy, love and even bliss.
This stillness and freedom is behind all your thoughts, emotions and all of manifested reality. Thus as you let go of everything, you will experience this more and more. You will also see that who you are can bear all pain and remain free – that no matter what happens in the world, what happens to you, what your life situation is, there is always a peace and stillness of your true presence, of your deepest nature and the nature of the Absolute, the Divine, in the background.
Embracing this stillness, peace and freedom that is always present can be done to facilitate the process of integration and dissolution in the beginning of this process, during it and in the end. It is always good to be aware of it, since it is the ground of all experience and the deepest part of who you are.
If action is needed, take it. Use your intuition to see what kind of action needs to be taken, but do not take action from a point of confusion and emotional turmoil. Bring yourself to peace first, as best you can, then if the cause of your misery can be abated by some form of productive action, by doing something proactive, then do it. Try to connect reason and logic with your intuition when taking action – do what makes sense, but also what feels good – what feels good from a deep level, not from a surface level perception. Whatever you feel leads you to deeper peace, freedom, well-being, compassion, love….deeper into the present.
It is prudent to note that sometimes what you will need to do will seemingly defy logic. If your intuitive sense of joy, love and freedom to do this thing is strong enough, it is more important than the sense of logic. The truth is that there is likely a logical reasoning and connection there, it is just that with a limited perspective that most of us have it can be difficult to see.
What you will notice is that simply by becoming aware of the causes of your turmoil, you will already be dissolving it. Awareness is the great healer. You will see that very often, your suffering is arising from wrong perception. You will let go of deep seated fears, forgive yourself and others unconditionally, drop anger, grief as well as unchecked egotistic pride. All of these things contribute to your suffering. Simply by becoming aware of them and noticing that they are causing you suffering, you will be letting them go – simply by bringing them to the light of your awareness you will heal and drop what is no longer necessary. Heavy baggage that you no longer need, that no longer serves you.
Letting Go Directly
Another means of releasing your pain is to simply decide and let it go. You may be surprised, but ultimately holding on to your pain is simply an internal decision that is there by habit. Once you become aware of the pain you can simply decide it no longer serves you and drop it, like dropping an unneeded heavy item from your hand.
You can also ask yourself a simple question to help facilitate the release – “Could I allow myself to let this feeling go?”, you can follow it up with “Would I? and “When?” – these questions will help you identify your resistance to the act of letting go. By noticing your response to these questions (which may in the beginning or in some cases be negative “No”, “I can’t”, “Later”….) and choosing a positive affirmative answer (in order “Yes”, “Yes”, “Now”) you will be able to let whatever you are holding on to, go.
Decision based letting go can be tricky, because people not versed in this practice may push pain away, resist it and thus do the exact opposite of letting go. Letting go is none of those things, it is simply deciding to drop something and choosing peace, freedom instead.
Another question that can facilitate in letting go in this manner is to simply (after you become aware of what you are feeling, what is bothering you) ask yourself the following discriminating question: “Would I prefer to have this (or indeed hold on to this) feeling/thought/belief…or would I rather be free?”. Look within and notice the answer that arises. Allow yourself to choose freedom.
What I’ve described are straightforward ways in dealing with inner suffering, in whatever form it may arise.
Use them to heal yourself whenever necessary. Make it a continued practice to dissolve and resolve your inner pain, to look within – but also to be aware of the peace, presence, stillness, love and even joy that is present here now. Remain in the peace of Now and deal with the pain whenever it arises. Slowly, there will be less pain and more peace. Less unpleasantness and more happiness.
You can alter the main process in any way you intuitively feel improves its usefulness to you, as well as change the succession of the steps provided. We are all unique individuals and each of us experiences themselves and life differently, so what I’ve provided is more of a blueprint than an exact plan. Nobody can give you that. You must discover it yourself based on your own intuition, which you can only gain through experience, through facing your inner demons again and again, until they are integrated and dissolved by and into the light of your awareness.
Much love and good luck 🙂
Some other relevant links to help you on your path of dissolving your pain:
-Awareness – The Key to Mental, Emotional and Physical Freedom
-Finding, Experiencing and Following Your Intuition
–Deciding, Choosing and Creating with Awareness
-Forgiving Yourself for Your Past Mistakes Unconditionally
-Breathing – A Portal into the Present Moment
-Triple Welcoming Process – The Sedona Method (a wonderful process for dissolving inner pain and suffering)
The Work, By Byron Katie (a wonderful process for questioning your thoughts and resolving inner pain – one can get the process from the book ‘Loving What Is’, but it’s also available free on her website)