“… this new energy-shifting technique to the management of pain in my life. I already defined “Pain” to mean:
– any and all physical and/or emotional sensations that I would usually not elect (i.e. heartache, awkwardness, sadness, fear, physical discomfort, sickness, anger, disease, etc.)… … the axiom “when you know the truth the suffering ends” I have come to learn that pain is nothing more than an alert telling me that there is a truth I need to know. Truth is the antidote that rids the pain. When the truth comes to me, my body creates unique sensations.”
I recently attended Derek O’Neill’s “Finding Your Excellence” workshop in Los Angeles. At the end of that workshop, I found an opportunity to thank him for something he gave me during his May 7, 2011 workshop called “More Truth Will Set You Free.” The things I heard back then were familiar to me and resonated with the truths I have already started to know. That day I experienced new ways of looking at some of my established truths and supporting their efficacy.
As I drove home from the More Truth event, I realized that I was taking away many things; I was especially taking away Derek’s story about “Transmuting Anger Into Compassion.” His sharing of a life experience, on how he overcame the grips of anger, sounded a lot like the way I had been learning to handle “Pain.” Because, my definition of “Pain” included anger, I was most interested in his process of selecting a word that he defined as the opposite of anger (Compassion). And, when he felt anger starting to overtake him, he would simply think the word “Compassion.” He assured us, that at the moment he would start the transmutation, he did not always feel the emotion of compassion; all he had to do was come up with the word. Just thinking the word “Compassion” would be enough to start the shift away from anger. I thought, “Could this really be true?” It made sense to me… at least enough for me to take the concept home and prove it out.
I elected to apply this new energy-shifting technique to the management of pain in my life. I already defined “Pain” to mean – any and all physical and/or emotional sensations that I would usually not elect (i.e. heartache, awkwardness, sadness, fear, physical discomfort, sickness, anger, disease, etc.). I already subscribed to the axiom “…when you know the truth the suffering ends…” I have come to learn that pain is nothing more than an alert telling me that there is a truth I need to know. Truth is the antidote that rids the pain.
When I share my discoveries about relieving my own pains, I use the following analogy: For those of us who have traveled a lot, especially for business, checking into a hotel room and finding a flashing-red-light on the telephone can sometimes be frustrating. The day’s journey [Life Event] has delivered us tired, hungry and in need of a shower. As we enter our room, we see the flashing-red-light and perceive it as an irritation [Pain]. We just want the flashing-red-annoyance to go away [Resistance] so we can continue to get room service, a shower and the rest we so desperately need. Reflexively, we may drift into the “Not Now” spinning a story about the message waiting: “It can’t possibly be for me… I’m sure they would have told me about it at check-in… I’m sure that it is some remnant of the previous guest and it will just piss me off when I spend all that effort, navigating through some poorly-designed voicemail system, only to find out what I already know…the message is not for me.” We further resist the message-waiting-light by throwing a towel over it vowing to eradicate the annoyance in the morning.
Morning comes all too soon. Waking with a start, we sense that something is wrong. Something is missing, but we are unable to put a finger on it. Rushing, we dress for that all-important meeting; the one that has dragged us half way around the globe just for our customer’s signature on a contract. Exiting the hotel lobby, we climb into a waiting taxi and speed off to our meeting. Sitting inside the quietness of the cab, we inventory our briefcase in preparation for the ceremonial signing of the contract; we realize that we neglected to bring a printed copy of the contract [More Pain]. Overwhelmed with fear and shame, we thrust ourselves into the Not Now fearing judgment from our peers and superiors, rejection from our customer, while all the time feeling the sting of our harsh self-judgment. In desperation, we look for a way out of the situation we have created. Managing to get back in the Now, we arrive at our customer’s location. After warm greetings and introductions, we confess our embarrassment and our mistake. Asking our customer for the use of a printer, we easily print new copies from our ever-present laptop computer. The contract signing goes as planned and our mission is accomplished. Re-entering the Not Now, we attempt to assess the damage our business reputation has suffered. We limp our bruised ego back to our hotel room.
Entering our hotel room, the still-flashing-red-light confronts us. It’s still irritating; we desperately want it to go away. In an attempt to distract ourselves from the failures of the day, we begin the arduous task of accessing the voice mail system and squelching the alert. Completing the task of setting up a system password, we access the message waiting and ready ourselves for its deletion. Reviewing the one message, we are confident is intended for another, the familiar voice of our administrative assistant grabs out attention. Having discovered the printed contracts still sitting on our office desk, our assistant has expressed the copies to our hotel and advises us to look for the package that will be waiting for us at the hotel. At that moment, the truth floods in. In fact, we are flooded with multiple truths.
The take-away I received from Derek, the part about using a specific word that would start his shift away from one form of pain (his anger), can be easily applied to the above analogy. When we resisted the first pain [Flashing-Red-Light] we also created a path to more pain [judgment, embarrassment, desperation, etc.]. Most all of the pain was unnecessary. We created the pain. By leaving the contracts on our desk, for whatever reason, and employing a competent assistant, we created the flashing-red-light. Perhaps not consciously, but we most definitely created it. We created the next day’s pain by not shifting our aversion to the flashing-red-light, into acceptance. If we had turned our resistance into acceptance, we would have discovered that the solution to a future problem, had already shown up… if we would have only allowed it. Upon entering our hotel room and seeing the flashing-red-light, we could have become present to the pain that the alert was causing. Yes, somewhere, intermingled with the pain of hunger, tiredness and other road-inflicted sensations and emotions, we could find the pain that was being triggered by the alert. If we were angry about unfriendly hotel-room voice mail systems that wasted our time, we could think the word “Compassion.” If we were exhausted, we could think the word “Rest.” If we were anxious, we could think the word “Peace.” The word itself is not where the power lies. The power lies in the actual moment we become present to the pain, decide to identify the pain, choose an opposite-word and think it. This is the moment we set an intention to shift the pain and transmute it to something that heals us, and those around us. When we set intention, without expectation, we create a path that is mostly pain free.
A Shortcut: Through months of testing and refinement, I have discovered a short cut. When I feel pain, regardless of the type of pain, I use the pain as a trigger to bring me present and start the shift. I simply say or think the words “Thank You.” I am thanking myself for the painful emotional and/or physical alert that is pointing me towards a truth I need to know. The majority of the time I am unable to feel thankful in the moment. However, my initial and immediate pain reduction is noticeable and measurable. At a minimum, I experience pain relief just knowing that I have initiated the process of transmuting my pain into no pain. I have set an intention to learn the truth I need to hear.
The second part of the transmutation, learning the truth, has proven to be more difficult for me. However, it is a necessary step towards no pain. Once I know the truth, my suffering ends. The moment the shift starts, if I am present enough and capable of moving the process forward, I’ll ask myself “What is the truth I need to know?” Most of the time, especially if the pain continues, I seek the truth in sitting meditation. When the environment is right for meditation, I start by setting my intention to know the truth that the pain is guiding me towards. Sometimes it takes days before the truth shows up. Most of the time, the truth comes within minutes of setting an intention to know it. There are many ways we all know that we have received truth. When the truth comes to me, whether in sitting meditation or right after the shift starts, my body creates unique sensations. And, more often than not, I will experience a heart opening; this creates gratitude. The gratitude connects me back to the “Thank You” words I used to start the entire process. I say “Thank You” to the Source for being that still-small-voice-message of truth inside me and sending me the pain alerting me to a message waiting.
Knowing that I have the power to create pain, find the truth, take pain away and replace it with gratitude and love of self, I am humbly reminded of the sacred old So Hum meditation mantra, “…I am God and God is not separate from me…”