Chapter 3: Suffering Is A Gift In Disguise

 suffering

William walked in his neighborhood on a warm Saturday afternoon as he searched for some escape from his misery. He started thinking about all the pain and sadness he’d been feeling. He was suffering and generally miserable. He wanted to run away from the pain. Recently he’d been getting sudden feelings of fear that struck repeatedly and without warning. He often felt he would pass out at any second, feeling dizzy with some trouble breathing. He’d been feeling more confused, unable to focus and had been having difficulties making decisions. And he was frequently overwhelmed by feelings of hopelessness. ere seemed to be no way out. He thought about how angry he was at his boss for working him so hard and never giving him credit for his good work. He felt uncomfortable about his job and the company he worked for.

Walking along a jogger’s path at the park near where he lived, William followed a gently flowing creek and soon entered a clearing deep in the park. He discovered the amazing waterfall his friend George had told him about. It must have been fifty feet high. The water cascaded into a magnificent lagoon. He slowly walked over and stood by the water’s edge, just basking in the peaceful beauty. After a while, William took off his shoes and socks and soaked his tired feet in the warm shallows.

“Funny,” he muttered thoughtfully. “Just a moment before, I was feeling bad but right now it feels like I might just make it through another day!”

“Hello,” said a soft voice that sounded very near.

William looked around but didn’t see anybody. “Now I’m hearing voices! Am I going crazy?” he wondered.

Then he saw a strikingly lovely woman with long flowing silver hair sitting comfortably atop a large boulder near him. Her gentle features were accented by clear, intuitive green eyes.

“My name is Charmaine,” she said, inviting conversation.

William was startled but curious why this mysterious woman would speak to him, a stranger. She was friendly and seemed very peaceful and calm.

“Hi. I’m William. Do you live around here?”

“No, not really,” said Charmaine. “But I come here to meditate sometimes.”

“Meditate?”

“It’s how I find peacefulness and clarity.” Sensing his pain, she said, “It’s a way to relax and deal with stress. And to re-energize.”

“I could use some of that,” William sighed. “I’ve really been struggling lately.”

William didn’t know why he had just said that. It was not at all like him to be so open with a stranger. He felt a little embarrassed. Skillfully changing the subject, he said, “So, what do you do for a living?”

“I’m into metaphysical electronics.”

“Metaphysical electronics?”

“I spend most of my time helping folks understand how their life experience is ‘wired up’. I help them discover how their minds, bodies and hearts determine the way they feel from moment to moment,” said Charmaine. “I help them discover the Eight Clues to living a happy, effective and more satisfying life.”

“Where did you learn about these Clues?”

“Actually, I first learned them from a wise, old gentleman a long time ago. I also learned by simply paying attention to my own life experiences.”

“Do you think the Eight Clues could help me?”

Charmaine smiled. “I’m pretty sure they could.”

“I’ve been unhappy for quite awhile.”

“Can you be more specific and name some of your feelings?”

“I’ve never let myself get too specific about them. It’s bad enough to feel stuck in this misery and on top of that I guess I feel ashamed for even having all these bad feelings. I don’t really know what to do with feelings except to try to stay in control of them. To answer your question, I guess I’ve been angry, sad, lonely and more than a little confused.”

“Perhaps you just don’t understand the importance of being aware of, and paying attention to your feelings - all of them. Our feelings exist to serve us, you know. They can actually guide us in living a happier and more effective life. e first of the Eight Clues is to understand the gift of suffering.”

“The...gift...of suffering? Suffering doesn’t feel like a gift,” William exclaimed. “It hurts! Suffering pretty much ruins every moment of my life. How can suffering be a gift?”

Charmaine smiled again as she rubbed her own sore ankle.

“Suffering is a gift in disguise,” she explained. “All suffering, whether it is physical, emotional or spiritual, is an exquisitely designed, divinely inspired and perfectly functioning communication system.”

“That’s a mouthful,” said William, grinning.

“It’s our mind, body and spirit working together to give us the information we need to help us heal ourselves. So, you see, pain is a necessary and normal part of our lives.”

“Our job,” she said, “is not to ‘stuff’ or avoid the feelings we think are bad. Neither is it to numb ourselves to them or ignore them. Every feeling has a value and a purpose. They are all meant to serve us. We can learn to go toward our feelings - explore them - in order to discover what that particular experience of joy or suffering is trying to tell us.”

“What do you mean, ‘go toward our feelings’?”

“To go toward your feelings is to allow yourself to feel them. That’s how we process feelings – to move through them, not around them. at’s how we learn from our feelings rather than getting stuck in them.”

“Hmm.”

“If you put your finger on a hot stove, the pain is not the problem. The problem is that your finger is on a hot stove. The pain you feel tells you exactly what to do to stop the suffering. It isn’t telling you to leave it there and cry louder - or to scratch your left ear. It’s telling you to take your finger off the hot stove.”

“That makes sense.”

“And notice that when you burn your finger, you get a little blister, a healing reminder. But your arm doesn’t fall off. What I mean is that the Universe is not out to get you. It will only give you the amount of suffering you need in order to learn whatever it is there to tell you.”

“Feedback,” William nodded, beginning to get the picture.

“Exactly. The blister is a reminder that your finger is beginning to heal from the painful event, from the inside out. And that’s how suffering works too. If you are willing to face your suffering you’ll soon see signs of healing.”

“But expecting someone who’s in pain to just ‘face his suffering’ sounds a little hardhearted,” objected William.

“On the surface it may sound that way. But if you resist, that is, stuff and ignore your suffering, it will only get worse. at’s a fairly accurate indicator that you have not suffered enough yet. Sooner or later, when the suffering gets uncomfortable enough, you’ll be forced by your very symptoms to face the thing you are afraid to face. It’s totally up to each of us how much and how long we suffer. Consider your suffering as a light guiding you on the pathway to your freedom from it.”

“But how does that relate to my everyday life? What does it have to do with my job, for instance?”

“If you are suffering at work,” Charmaine said, “one of two things is generally the problem. Either you have not learned to do your job in a way that nurtures your soul, or you are in the wrong job. The test is whether it makes you feel good, fulfilled, satisfied, and energized. Do you feel like you are making a worthwhile and valued contribution? If not, you may be in the wrong job. Or you may be with a company that you cannot totally support and feel good about. It’s usually the first of these two problems - but not always. Sometimes it’s a combination of the two. You can tell if your work nurtures your soul because you will feel energized by it. You’ll use your strengths and talents in a way that benefits both you and your employer.”

“What if it’s the wrong job but you need the money?”

“It’s simply a matter of how much you are willing to suffer for the money. Some jobs can be so toxic - so unhealthy and uncomfortable - that you can not have them in your life in a way that nurtures your soul. It’s the same with any relationship, activity or even a substance that brings you down. They become what I call ‘soul robbing activities’. Ultimately, you must move away from them.” 

“Easier said than done!” said William.

“Usually it’s a matter of finding a way to have that job in your life so that it does nurture your soul. It’s true about any activity, relationship or substance in your life. It may require a shift in how you are thinking about it. After all, your thoughts are the source of your uncomfortable feelings. You may need to focus on the aspects of your job that make you feel most validated and find most energizing,” Charmaine said. “Focus on your strengths, on the places where you find real meaning and value in your work. If you are still suffering, then pay attention to what those feelings are trying to tell you. If there is something you need to change, then change it. Your suffering will tell you exactly where to look for the answer. You just have to be willing to go toward the feelings, be honest with yourself and keep your heart open.”

“How?”

“Try letting go of any self-criticism or resistance to what you see and feel about yourself and others or the situation you’re in. Remember, your feelings - all of them - were designed to serve you.”

“The other night”, said William, hoping Charmaine wouldn’t think he was a wimp, “I was feeling angry and lonely and definitely at the end of my rope. I .... started to cry. I couldn’t stop no matter how hard I tried, and all these feelings just came pouring out of me. So I finally just let it happen. e weird thing is after I cried for a while, I felt better. How could letting myself feel bad feel so good?”

“Ah,” said Charmaine, “now you are getting to the heart of the matter. You came to a point where you had finally suffered enough. You simply couldn’t stuff the feelings that kept coming up anymore. And that’s a good thing. It was a relief to release, like an emotional safety valve. Your feelings are not the enemy, William. They are part of your internal communications system.”

“You might think of feelings as emotional gas, she said. “They are real. They come from deep inside and they need to come out. In fact, if you don’t find some way to express them they will find their own way out. They’ll begin to seep out of you at the most inappropriate times and places, everywhere in your life. They will begin to create symptoms in your body such as lower back pain, headaches, dizziness, heartburn and stomach aches. You may also find yourself feeling confused and having difficulty deciding even the most simple things. You’ll see symptoms in your relationships as well, such as guilt, resentment or jealousy. You’ll find them showing up in your work, as anger, apathy, anxiety or fear, for example. You’ll find your- self being overly critical of yourself and others at home and on the job. ”

“Emotional gas,” mused William. "I like that analogy. That’s exactly how I’ve been feeling. Have I had some serious gas!” William grinned sarcastically.

Charmaine laughed. “All our emotions are of value and serve a purpose, William. We’re not even capable of unacceptable feelings, only unacceptable behaviors. Have you ever had a really good feeling?”

“Sure. It felt great to put my feet in the lagoon and look at the waterfall.”

“Those feelings are also there to tell you something you need to know.” 

“So all of our feelings really are useful indicators.”

“You bet! And here’s another interesting aspect to the gift of suffering. Have you ever had a really good feeling and tried to hold onto it?”

“Oh, yes! But it always goes away.”

“That’s true,” Charmaine said. “You can’t hold onto a really good feeling no matter how hard you try. But that’s not only true of good feelings. It’s true of all feelings. If you have a really bad feeling and you allow yourself to feel it, try to feel it - and even try to hold onto it and make it more intense - you will feel it. And then it will simply disappear. It’s only our fear of a feeling, our resistance and objection to it, that can keep us stuck in it. It’s also our resistance and objection to the facts and circumstances that we think caused our feelings that can keep us stuck in it. Resistance causes persistence.”

“Ok,” said William, “let me say this back to you to see if I get what you’re saying. If I stuff my uncomfortable feelings, they stay inside, poisoning me. But if I feel my feelings, or go toward them, they dissipate!”

“Yes! is is all very simple at one level. But it’s not necessarily easy to do. I’ve been practicing going toward my feelings for a long time and I can’t always do it.”

“Why not?”

“Sometimes I’ve just not suffered enough yet.”

“Whoa! Are you into masochism? Because if you are...”

“No,” Charmaine chuckled. “But I’m reminded of a bright young woman I once knew named Lisa. She complained about some of the same kind of things that you mentioned about your job. When she started she was enthusiastic and very positive. In time, the company pressured her to work longer and longer hours with less and less support, acknowledgment and appreciation. She didn’t feel valued or respected for her efforts. When she went home at night she began to notice that she was angry and impatient with her husband and kids. She started getting migraines and no longer felt she had time to take care of herself. She gained weight and began losing contact with some of the friends she used to exercise with.”

“Oh, I can relate to that! So, what did she do then?”

“She left. She lived within walking distance to work and was well-paid but it finally got to a point that the pain and suffering she felt in her job, finally became greater than the benefits. It’s what I call doing an ‘emotional-cost-benefit analysis’. Like many of us, Lisa was very tenacious, which can be a good thing. e other side of tenacity is that sometimes it can be difficult to know when and how to let go of a bad situation.”

“Have you ever noticed how we tend to repeat our mistakes over and over again? We keep running into the same kind of problems in life, bringing up in us the same unpleasant feelings, over and over again. Perhaps we feel put down, made wrong, ignored. The pattern repeats itself at home, at work, on the freeway, in the grocery store and in our personal relationships. And we think the problem is out there. Think of it this way. By our very nature we attract, like a magnet, the very situations and people we need. We do this in order to create for ourselves an ‘inescapable opportunity’ to face the next thing we are ready to learn. The Universe is impeccable in its ability to provide us as many opportunities as we need to learn whatever that particular suffering is there to teach us. So we usually don’t get to experience the lesson and the suffering just once. Even after we think we may have learned a lesson, the Universe will continue to give us opportunities to show that we ‘get it’. And it will continue to show up until the issue simply begins to slowly disappear in our life. And even then it will occasionally show up just as a little reminder.”

“Suffering is truly a gift in disguise,” Charmaine continued.

“Understanding the value of suffering can lead to a happier and more productive life.”

“A gift in disguise,” William repeated hopefully. “I want to hear more about this because suffering is one thing I have plenty of!”

“So William, tell me first, why did you come to this waterfall?”

“When I was a lot younger, a couple of my buddies and I used to stand under a waterfall laughing and horsing around,” William sighed happily at the memory. “So I thought just coming here and looking at it might help me feel better.”

“Let’s go stand by the waterfall right now.”

“Nah, I am a full-grown man. I don’t do things like that anymore. Besides, you’ll get that clothes wet if you get too close to it.”

Charmaine laughed. “I can stand close to the waterfall with you and still be reasonably dry. Come on, I’ll show you.” Charmaine reached into her large white backpack, pulled out a colorful parasol and began singing an old blues song that seemed to come from deep within her soul.

William smiled at Charmaine rhythmically moving to her own music. He thought, ‘Why not?’ and happily joined her beside the waterfall. e cool mist rising from it felt soothing on his warm body. A broad, boyish smile spreading across his face, William broke exuberantly into a stanza of Jungle Boogie. Charmaine stood beside him with droplets bouncing off her parasol and joined in with a bass harmony line. Well, it wasn’t very bass. But it had soul!

William let the mist from the crystal clear water wash over him, swaying to the rhythm of their song. They stayed by the waterfall, luxuriating in its coolness for quite a while. Then they strolled to other side of the lagoon.

“Come on, William. I’ll race you over to that water tower at the edge of the park!”

“Well, that’s not really fair to you,” William laughed. “I’m younger and faster than you!”

“Oh, yes it is.” Charmaine said as she pulled out a pair of roller blades from her backpack and quickly fastened them.”

They both laughed. William grunted and groaned as he playfully bounded toward the tower. Charmaine rolled effortlessly along the paved path with a radiant smile on her ageless face.

“Oo-eee!” Charmaine whooped as she reached the mark well ahead of William. He plopped down on the grass by the tower and she sat beside him quietly basking in the sun while William caught his breath.

“This feels great,” sighed William. “Why can’t I feel like this all the time?”

“You can feel like this more of the time than you might imagine,” Charmaine said. “But suffering is a natural part of life, William. We suffer because we get attached to an outcome, to the idea that we’d be happy if only we had more money or just the right job or the perfect mate. And, of course, that isn’t true in the long run. Suffering hap- pens when we get caught up in the past or the future and lose our sense of being fully present. Sometimes suffering rises from our need to be right, from our need to be special or from cherishing ourselves over others. We suffer when we hold on to our need to assign blame - or even credit. We suffer as a result of constantly wanting and craving. We suffer when we compare, judge and criticize ourselves and others. These are only some of the many ways we create our own suffering because we think our happiness depends on things being a certain way ‘out in the world’.”

“Wow, that’s a lot to wrap my mind around...”

“Wrapping our mind around life’s events is exactly the problem,” she said. “It is the source of our suffering. It really is all in our head, an illusion!”

“Are you trying to tell me that all my problems are in my head?”

“Yes, that’s exactly what I’m telling you, William. Where else do you think they could come from? It is our mind’s thoughts that cause our experiences, not the events themselves. For right now, just remember that much of our pain is really ‘anticipatory suffering’,” Charmaine said.

“...and a lot to wrap my tongue around! What’s anticipatory suffering, anyhow?”

“Expecting suffering that hasn’t even happened yet - and probably won’t,” she said. “It’s fed by our memories and beliefs from past conditioning and experiences we resisted. Remember William, our real pain and suffering doesn’t actually come from the facts and events in our life. It comes from our objection to and our resistance to those facts and events.”

“Hmmm,” said William. “That’s a whole different way to look at it.”

“It’s the meaning we add to the facts and events that causes our grief. And those meanings we add are often not based in reality. They generally come from unseen and long-held attitudes, beliefs and assumptions we make about the things that happen in our world. It’s helpful to ask ourselves whether or not these thoughts continue to serve us.”

“Now, I can understand that,” William exclaimed. “I’m one hurtin’ guy!”

“Some of our worst experiences of suffering actually come from resistance to our pain. Suffering, when resisted, can really hurt. But suffering, when embraced, is quite different.”

“Do you remember when you were hurting so badly the other night?”

“Sure. How can I forget?”

“Wasn’t the pain most intense when you fought against experiencing your feelings?”

“Yes, I guess so!”

“But did you notice what happened when you finally surrendered and let it happen?”

“Ummm... it still hurt... but now I’d say that it hurt... just right!”

“That’s what I call ‘exquisite pain’,” Charmaine said. “It’s suffering unresisted. It’s real. It’s deep. And it feels really good to just let it happen.”

“You’re right, it does feel better than stuffing it until you hurt.”

“Stuffing it just extends and deepens the suffering, doesn’t it? Remember pain is designed to serve you. So when you become aware of pain and go toward it, you actually take a short cut to your freedom from it. Look for what the suffering is trying to tell you. It is trying to tell you that what you are doing is not going to give you what you want. en you can use the energy that would have been expended ‘keeping a lid on it’ for something more fun.”

“I’m for that!”

“You know, your mind and body are one.”

“I’m not sure I get what you mean by that.”

“Nothing happens to us physically that doesn’t effect us emotionally. On the other hand, nothing can happen to us emotionally that doesn’t effect us physically. We used to think that which we call our ‘mind’ was in our brain. Now we know that our ‘mind’ is in every cell of our body. So whenever we suffer emotionally, it will reveal a symptom somewhere in our body. For example, when you are angry at your boss, where in your body do you feel it?”

“I don’t know.”

“Think about a moment when you were really upset with him.”

“Well, I remember the time I did an incredible job on the Spencer account and my boss never recognized any of my efforts.”

“What do you notice in your body right now?”

After a few moments William said, “My jaw is tight.”

“Now think about missing your family and friends back home. Where do you feel that?”

William slumped forward. His shoulders got heavy. His breath shortened and he stared at the ground. He thought for a long moment. “I feel it deep in my chest.”

Charmaine saw a tear in William’s eye. “I’m sorry you’re hurting so much. I know what it feels like to miss having loved ones close by. But if you pay attention to all your feelings, you’ll begin to recognize what feels good and what doesn’t. Then you’ll understand what you must do to create more peace and happiness in your life.”

“Charmaine,” William protested. “I’ve been struggling to stay in control of my feelings all my life! I thought that’s what we’re supposed to do, especially us guys.”

“You’re right. Most of us, especially ‘you guys’, have been taught that. You think it is essential to stay in control.”

“Why does the thought of showing my feelings seem so scary?”

“It’s because we think our survival literally depends on staying in control. Our best strategy for staying in control is to avoid intense feelings because when we are experiencing those intense feelings we are not in control. That’s why we call them feelings. And one of our mind’s favorite strategies for avoiding feelings is to try to figure out why we are feeling them. Our mind thinks that if we could just figure out why we are feeling them, then we would not actually have to feel them, thereby losing our illusory experience of being in control.”

“Well, sometimes it sure seems like I know why I’m feeling certain emotions, especially when it’s the things that make me ‘mad in the face’,” William exclaimed with a silly grin.

“But the facts and circumstances of our world do not cause our feelings, William,” she replied. “They trigger them. The feelings originate within us. As a dear and very wise old gray haired mentor of mine named John Enright once told me, ‘The world is just out there worlding. Whatever we experience is what we bring to it.”

“I get it. Circumstances are neutral!”

“Exactly. What we experience is what we bring to the party. Our thoughts are the horse that our feelings ride in on. Sometimes we just do too much thinking and not enough feeling. It’s natural for us to have feelings. It’s just much more effective to pay attention to what we’re feeling rather than why we are feeling it. Feeling the feelings without adding meaning is generally the shortest route through them.”

“Oh, okay. at makes sense.”

“The irony is that once you move through the feelings without objection or resistance and without adding additional meaning to them, you are much more likely to have an ‘ah-ha’ moment! You have a much clearer sense of what they are trying to tell you and what, if anything, you need to do about them. And then, of course, things change.”

“So just when I’ve got things figured out things change!” William protested. “And I’m back to square one.”

“That’s the nature of the beast,” Charmaine explained. “Life is a constant series of changes. If you begin to go toward the changes rather than fighting them, and they’re bound to happen, you will be pleasantly surprised.”

“By what?”

“By personal breakthroughs, creative thinking, more clarity and more effectiveness in everything you do. Your intuition and natural wisdom become available to you again. ey get you in touch with your compassion, not only for yourself but for the suffering of others, including those that you feel may have wronged you. You begin to rediscover where your passions and interests lie. Lots of people rediscover their ability to be present and available in the moment and so, less fearful of intimacy and close relationships. It’s all good stuff, William.”

They sat quietly for awhile. Then William slowly got up and stretched out his arms with a big sigh.

“How do you feel right now, William?” asked Charmaine with a smile.

“I feel great!”

“And how do you feel now? Take a fresh look,William.”

He thought about it for a moment. “I feel content. How could I feel so miserable one minute and so content the next?”

“Because each moment of now is a totally fresh possibility to be in your soul or in your ego. Just think! A new beginning each moment!”

“What do you mean by a ‘moment of now’?”

“Let’s walk and we can talk about that.”

“Charmaine, would you like to see my favorite spot in the park?”

“I’d love to.”

 

Summary
 

Clue # 1: Suffering is a Gift in Disguise.

All suffering, whether it is physical, emotional or spiritual is an exquisitely designed, divinely inspired and perfectly functioning communication system. Suffering is a gift. It is mind, body and spirit working together to tell us something we need to know to help us heal ourselves. Our pain and suffering only exist to serve us. So go toward it. Explore it. Discover what it is there to tell you. Opening your heart to your suffering is the pathway to your freedom from it.

  • Our job is to go toward our feelings, explore them and discover what they are trying to tell us.
  • Suffering is a natural part of life when we identify with our mind/ body – our ego – rather than our soul.
  • Suffering occurs when we form attachment in the world.
  • Our real pain and suffering doesn’t come from the facts and events in our life. It comes from our objecting and resisting those facts and events.
  • Much of our pain is really anticipatory suffering.
  • The Universe will only give you the amount of suffering you need in order to learn whatever it is there to tell you.
  • Face the suffering and soon you will see signs of healing.
  • If you resist, stuff and ignore the suffering, it will get worse.
  • Experiencing your feelings without adding meaning is generally the shortest route through them.
  • Pay attention to what you are feeling rather than why you are feeling it.
  • Resistance to suffering causes the persistence of suffering.
  • Use the ‘emotional-cost-benefit’ analysis.
  • When we emotionally or spiritually suffer it will reveal a symptom somewhere in our body.
  • Suffering is a light guiding you to your freedom from the suffering.
  • Suffering at work means you are doing something that you cannot totally support and feel good about.
  • Your work is nurturing your soul when you feel good, energized and are using your strengths and talents.
  • If you have mercy and compassion for your own suffering it will be easier for you to have more understanding for others - including those who have wronged you.

The benefits of understanding suffering

You will have more energy and less fear. You will move toward any changes you may need to make. You will have more breakthroughs, new creative thinking and more clarity. You will have more compassion for yourself and others. You will rediscover your passions and interests. You will be more present and less fearful of intimacy and closer relation- ships. You will be more effective in all things.

 

Exercise


“Resistance Causes Persistence”

This is a creative visualization exercise. We know that successful artists, musicians, athletes or business people quite frequently achieve amazing outcomes because they have imagined themselves accomplishing their goals before they’ve actually performed them. Your positive and creative thoughts can help you achieve whatever you want.

But this exercise is a here and now, internal process in which you visualize a place in your body where you are holding some pain or discomfort. It is a part of you from which you have fearfully separated yourself, a place where you are afraid to experience the physical and emotional feelings that are there.

Let go of any tendency to prematurely analyze or try to explain why you are feeling the sensation. Pay attention to what you are feeling rather than why you are feeling it. e feeling will tell you the why. Let your body rather than your mind tell you what you need to know.

This is an exercise to help you learn to see physical and emotional pain as a neutral sensation. If you think of the sensation as pain, that one thought automatically creates the feeling to be a negative and distancing relationship you have with that sensation, separate from yourself. is exercise will help you learn to see all your feelings as a natural and useful part of your life.

At first it may be useful to have someone slowly read this to you and guide you through it. Get in a comfortable position, sitting or lying down. Take a few easy breaths. Close your eyes.

Step 1: 

Scan your awareness and notice a negative emotion or a physical discomfort. e emotion might be sadness, jealousy, loneliness, boredom, anxiety or depression. The physical discomfort might be a chronic pain such as an old injury or illness. It could be a more short-lived discomfort such as an upset stomach or headache. Remember, since the mind and body are one, every emotional feeling will reveal itself somewhere in your body.

So now notice exactly where that feeling is in your body. (Pause)

Let yourself feel the full strength of that sensation in your body. (Pause)

On a scale from zero to ten, where zero is no awareness of any discomfort and ten is the worst pain you can imagine, give it a number. Assign a value to the pain or discomfort as it is right now, not where it was yesterday or where you are afraid it might be tomorrow.

Step 2: 

Gently focus all of your awareness and attention on that place in your body. Soften all around it. Invite the sensation to be there. See if you can make it bigger, more real and more intense. Stay totally present and focused on that area. There is a part of you that may think this is counter intuitive, just the opposite of what you should do. The anticipation of going toward the feeling may seem scary or make you think you might die. But be assured it is safe. It actually can be very freeing to go toward and explore whatever physical sensation or emotion you are feeling. (Pause)


Step 3: 

Imagine going inside of your own body and exploring where the sensation is. (Pause)

Invite that feeling to be there, exactly as it is, without any resistance or objection to it. Notice its precise location. (Pause)

Move all around it. Lovingly notice it. To lovingly notice you simply invite the sensation in with complete acceptance, with tenderness and compassion. Surrender to the feeling with a deep and natural sense of connection to it, free of any judgment, any sense of separation or rejection of the feeling. Now notice its shape and its size. (Pause)

Notice what color it is. (Pause)

Move closer to it. Imagine reaching out with your hand and gently touching it. Feel its texture. Notice if it’s hot or cold, wet or dry, soft or hard. (Pause)

Notice anything you can about it. Curiously explore it - as a child would.

Know that the sensation is only there to serve you, to tell you something you need to know to help you heal yourself, to get your life back into balance physically, emotionally or spiritually.

Step 4: 

Now ask that part of your body a question about anything in your life. It might be about a troubled relationship, a concern about a child or parent, an unmet challenge in your education or career, a physical concern you know you have not taken care of, etc. Examples: “What are you trying to tell me?” “How long do I have to suffer?” “Why did she leave me?” “Could I lose my job?” (Pause)

Notice anything that comes into your awareness. Notice any thoughts, any flashes of memory or images that may come to you. Don’t do anything with them. Just be the observer, a loving witness. (Pause)

Perhaps something comes up for you or perhaps nothing will. Sometimes the question you ask is the answer. (Pause)

Feel free to have a conversation with that sensation in your body. (Pause)

Take as much time as you like. Keep taking a fresh look. The feeling may shift or move or change in some way. It may remain unchanged. Continue to invite it to be there exactly as it is. Know that it is only there to serve you.

Step 5: 

With a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation for its commitment to serve you in exactly the way it is, imagine welcoming and embracing the physical sensation. (Pause)

Totally let go of any resistance or objection to its being there. Now imagine moving inside of it. (Pause)

Surrender to it. Let the feeling have you. (Pause)

Now imagine becoming it. (See yourself as the feeling itself. Identify with it rather than separate from it.) (Pause)

You may notice that as you let go of any tendency to distance yourself or separate yourself from the feeling, it begins to dissolve from your awareness.

Step 6: 

If the pain or discomfort is still there, or if it comes back into your awareness, simply go toward it again. Take a fresh look. Lovingly observe it; invite it to be there. Make it bigger, more real, more intense. Again, notice its exact location, its shape, its size and its texture. Ask it a question. Open yourself to whatever it is there to tell you. Have a conversation with it. Embrace it. Move inside of it. Let it have you. Become it. As you let go of all resistance and objection to it, letting go of any separation from it, the pain or discomfort will often begin to fade or completely disappear from your awareness.

Step 7: 

Notice on a scale of zero to ten how you experience that area of your body now. You may notice that the physical discomfort is now gone or has diminished slightly or dramatically. Use this process as often as you would like. With practice you will notice you can begin to do it very quickly. You will become more and more effective at applying this technique in many areas of your life.

Principle

Resistance causes persistence. is principle applies to all physical, emotional or spiritual suffering. As you let go of all resistance and objection to the painful feeling, letting go of the natural tendency to pull away, to separate yourself from the physical sensation, the physical or emotional pain will diminish or completely disappear from your awareness. This exercise can help remove the fear previously associated with pain so that it will have less power in your life.

The mind and body are one, not just metaphorically but quite literally. This is a powerful way to free yourself from much of your suffering. Remember, everything that affects you physically also affects you emotionally, and everything that affects you emotionally also affects you physically.