Pain relief

Eudoxos ., modified 1 Month ago.

Pain relief

Posts: 64 Join Date: 4/6/14 Recent Posts
Hi fellow travelers,

I have a long history of headache / face pains in and out of meditation and I am looking for other's experiences as inspiration. Healing is one of the traditional powers (though perhaps meant in a stronger sense than just relief), hence posting here.

The stock insight approach to pain for me is, just like with anything else:
  1. noting the sensations themselves & their vedana (including their 3c) — 1st arrow;
  2. noting reactions such as feelings, thoughts, hindrances as they happen (attenuation of the 2nd arrow, essentially); this also includes noting the attentional push or pull of the body region, including the tendency to shut the sensation off, or the opposite, to give it full attention as to push out the negative stuff around.
Then a few practices I've been shown at various points:
  1. Concentration on the aching spot for a few minutes, making it hot (or cold), then blurring the attention;
  2. visualization of healing white light going there, or creating sensations of hot/cold shower in that particular area;
  3. sending metta to the area;
  4. Shinzen's pain relief technique, which is a combination of a few of the above (investigating emotional reactions, transforming into energy flow, dissipation of energy from the primary region, etc);
  5. standard "magick" instruction (as in MCTB2): prepare the ground, ascend to 4th/8th jhana, then state the intention for the pain to heal.
My concentration abilities are probably not great (being a dry vipassana worker, without formal samatha training), though I can get fairly clean & effortlessly stable j4 in a few weeks after retreat, and did try doing the (soft-end) jhanic arc j1→j8→j1 a few times in the past. The pain is mostly correlated with conscious effort, thus trying to boost mind's energy by the power of will is often counterproductive.

Any recommendations?
thumbnail
Ben V., modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Pain relief

Posts: 362 Join Date: 3/3/15 Recent Posts
I've been suffering chronic pain (mostly mild but sometimes depressing due to the chronicity) in lower abdominal tissues for the last two years related to a rare condition, seen normally in high level athletes (which I'm not) sometimes called athletic pubalgia (there is not even a conscnesus on what to call it in the medical community).

For the last year physio and osteo is what I'm doing, with mixed results.

When it comes to using a contemplative technique, I was moved by a technique Shargrol taught here recently that I've since been occasionally using, which helped me with the mental aspect around the pain. I'm copying and pasting it here  (I don't remember which thread it is from as I copied and pasted it in a folder of mine when I initially saw it, copying it now from my folder). I think he had meant it for emotional suffering but I use it for my physical pain. I don't know if it would be helpful for you but here it is for you to consider: 


1. Find some aspect of your present experience that is lacking, is difficult, is suffering, etc.
2. Feel that experience. It can help to name it.
3. State the intention: "if there are any other beings out there that are experiencing this and having too much difficulty with it, may I experience it for them. May their experience come to me. May I fully experience it with no resistance. May they find relief."
4. Feel that experience again. Soak in it, dwell in it. Also imagine the joy the other feels being free of it and how they can gain perspective/insight because they now aren't overwhelmed by it. Go back and forth between you and other.
5. After a period of time that feels right, drop the intention and say, "May all beings be free from suffering, may all beings awaken, may all beings be happy."

And then repeat the whole cycle again when it feels right.

The benefit of this practice is you are not taking on anything new, you're experiencing what you are already experiencing, but you are taking on what you are already experiencing with a much deeper intention that goes beyond yourself.  And it ends with a reaffirmation that we're all worthy of peace, awakening, and happiness.
Eudoxos ., modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Pain relief

Posts: 64 Join Date: 4/6/14 Recent Posts
Thanks, Ben, I will try that out. Sounds useful.
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Pain relief

Posts: 1899 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
This is a tip spatial posted recently which I found surprisingly effective - imagine that the pain itself is the meditator!

Since the pressure occurs when you sit down to meditate, what if the pressure is itself the meditator? What if it's just the action of a body-mind that has been conditioned to meditate, and by observing it, you're seeing reality as it is? What if the pressure is more real than you are?

​​​​​​​It comes back to his idea that you are happening to the pain, rather than the pain happening to you.

Ajahn Brahm reports Ajahn Chah saying a similar thing when the monks were complaining about loud music from the village - 'It is not the noise that disturbs you, it is you who disturbs the noise!'
Eudoxos ., modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Pain relief

Posts: 64 Join Date: 4/6/14 Recent Posts
Hi George, I appreciate your reply and will definitely try that approach.
A. Dietrich Ringle, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Pain relief

Posts: 801 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
I will stay on the course by saying you need stream entry. Stream entry happens to you, unless you have not developed your concentration during the dark night. Then fake but totally real fruitions will harmlessly occur. If you were to catch on of these, we would probably have already gone our separate ways. You could prove me wrong of course. What's your favorite beer?
A. Dietrich Ringle, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Pain relief

Posts: 801 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
Eudoxos .:
Hi fellow travelers, I have a long history of headache / face pains in and out of meditation and I am looking for other's experiences as inspiration. Healing is one of the traditional powers (though perhaps meant in a stronger sense than just relief), hence posting here. The stock insight approach to pain for me is, just like with anything else:
  1. noting the sensations themselves & their vedana (including their 3c) — 1st arrow;
  2. noting reactions such as feelings, thoughts, hindrances as they happen (attenuation of the 2nd arrow, essentially); this also includes noting the attentional push or pull of the body region, including the tendency to shut the sensation off, or the opposite, to give it full attention as to push out the negative stuff around.
Then a few practices I've been shown at various points:
  1. Concentration on the aching spot for a few minutes, making it hot (or cold), then blurring the attention;
  2. visualization of healing white light going there, or creating sensations of hot/cold shower in that particular area;
  3. sending metta to the area;
  4. Shinzen's pain relief technique, which is a combination of a few of the above (investigating emotional reactions, transforming into energy flow, dissipation of energy from the primary region, etc);
  5. standard "magick" instruction (as in MCTB2): prepare the ground, ascend to 4th/8th jhana, then state the intention for the pain to heal.
My concentration abilities are probably not great (being a dry vipassana worker, without formal samatha training), though I can get fairly clean & effortlessly stable j4 in a few weeks after retreat, and did try doing the (soft-end) jhanic arc j1→j8→j1 a few times in the past. The pain is mostly correlated with conscious effort, thus trying to boost mind's energy by the power of will is often counterproductive. Any recommendations?
<br /><br />I just posted in another thread about the two hills of 1st path. Motivation equals A&amp;P, Support system equals dark night of soul and spirit. Together they are ageless, timeless, emptiness
Eudoxos ., modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Pain relief

Posts: 64 Join Date: 4/6/14 Recent Posts
Hi Dietrich, I can't decipher anything from your terse summary (the other thread does not help much, either). Would you elaborate?
A. Dietrich Ringle, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Pain relief

Posts: 801 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
It was meant to absorb and entertain, but I might have missed the mark.

After all, the Buddha dealt with pain all his life, so we might have as well.

​​​​​​​Sometimes I wake up with no clue what's going on around me.