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it’s been said before

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 LevineTurning 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).


7 responses »

  1. accepting gifts of others. hmmm. allowing compassion of others. hmmm. receive so others can give. gratitude of receiving is a gift to the giver. how lovely

  2. how lovely said, nancy

  3. “Pain stimulates grief.
    It uncovers deep feelings of isolation and aggression, abandonment and trust.”

    Yes…. I can relate to this! I had a dream last night that spoke to this deeply.

    Yes, you are cherished, Peter! Feel it, know it… and keep coming back for more. 🙂 There’s a lot of love in the world, no end to it… And lots of people yearning to give… Why? It just feels so darn good.


  4. it does, it does: receiving and giving! thanks for the reminder, april (remind me again tomorrow :-)).

  5. peter – i’d also like to remind you that you have touched many people’s lives at very crucial moments in their life (i speak for myself)….and now you are at a moment where some of that is coming back to you….and more.
    peace & blessings to you.

    • yes, dawne, i’m becoming aware of the abundance of kindness everywhere; some if it coming my way. makes me think that it must be “out there” all the time … what keeps us from it?

      Thomas Merton writes: “True love and prayer are learned in the moment when prayer has becom impossible and the heart has turned to stone.”

  6. What keeps us from the abundance of kindness?
    The quote from Thomas Merton you mentioned – I”m still trying to understand it from a deeper level – and would appreciate any comments.
    Does it mean we must always be in despair to really learn about love and prayer?


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