I’m bathing in the caring attention of friends who come to the house with cookies, soup, and offers to do-things-for-me. Emails arrive along with hand-delivered cards. It appears that I’m not alone. 🙂 Opening my heart to well-wishes places situate into a much large container than the scared ‘me’ can imagine. Mercy? Grace? Stars aligning? Whatever.
Reaching for the bookshelf, my hand randomly selects an old book by Stephen Levine. Turning to the pages headed “pain,” my recent experience and attempts at making sense are instantly validated by a someone who’s worked for decades with people in pain and near death (see posts over the last weeks). I’m assured that one person’s experience, carefully observed and reported, can speak in universal terms. We are each mirror of something much larger than our/selves.
Key observations from Levine’s book:
The ability of working with pain comes gradually.
We are conditioned to react to our pain with fear.
We turn pain to suffering by attempting to escape.
To explore discomfort is called “entering the pain that ends suffering.”
Pain stimulates grief.
It uncovers deep feelings of isolation and aggression, abandonment and trust.
The key word in working with pain (physical and mental) is “softening.”
But it is easier said than done.
source: Levine, S. (1991). Guided meditations, explorations and healings. New York: Anchor Books, pp. 200-202. image: “Sonnens” by Spanish Catalan painter Joan Miró (1893-1983).