Using pain as object of meditation - instructions, guided meditations, resources?

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
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philosopher
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Using pain as object of meditation - instructions, guided meditations, resources?

Post by philosopher » Sat Jul 18, 2015 4:55 am

Hello!

Since beginning to meditate about five years ago my pain tolerance has increased greatly (to the point that doctors are astonished and have said my tolerance is "eerie.") Much of the chronic pain I used to suffer from when I first began meditating has diminished (yay!), but I still have to undergo very deep / painful muscle release work every day in order to release muscle knots and tension. I would love to use this time towards developing concentration. Are there any guided meditations or instructions you may recommend? So far the techniques I've used to explore pain and increase tolerance towards it have been as follows:

-let go of storylines surrounding pain (unfairness of it, "I can't take anymore," "I'm going to get hurt," etc)
-"zoom in" with the attention to the pain itself. Get as "close" to it as I can so that the sensation of pain is the primary focus of my attention. In the stage I'm at now, this leads to very interesting fractions of seconds in which I am not feeling what I would call "pain" but rather very intense jolts of sensations. However my concentration is not strong at this point so these moments alternate with getting lost in storylines, or aversion, etc.
-broaden awareness so entire field of sensation is brought into awareness, including parts of the body that are experiencing pleasant/neutral feelings of relaxation, stillness, etc. trying to allow the feeling of pain to be within in an ocean of experience
-observe feeling tone of the experience - i.e. my attitude towards the pain itself. try to observe the aversion. I'm not very skilled at this at the moment. usually the pain is so intense I am unable to "step back" and observe the aversion that arises.


Just to clarify, the level of pain I'm talking about here is on the scale of 7-10, normally treated with narcotic painkillers and, at the highest end of the level, have left my mind observing the pain as so intense that my body might pass out, and wondering if it would happen (while still maintaining a sense of detachment).

Any tips or instructions you know of would be very helpful. I'd very much like to reach absorption states and have pain can be used an object to reach the jhanas.

:anjali:

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mikenz66
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Re: Using pain as object of meditation - instructions, guided meditations, resources?

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Jul 18, 2015 5:19 am

This talk may be of interest:
Bhikkhu Bodhi: Working with Pain
Bhikkhu Bodhi has a lot of experience of meditating with pain.

:anjali:
Mike

SarathW
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Re: Using pain as object of meditation - instructions, guided meditations, resources?

Post by SarathW » Sat Jul 18, 2015 11:05 am

I am pleased to see that your have learned to use pain as a meditation object.
I use this method so often, I can't remember the last time I took any pain killers even a Panadol.
My experience and many links in this subject find here.


Seven Days Without Pain Killers.


http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... 532&hilit=" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

dhammarelax
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Re: Using pain as object of meditation - instructions, guided meditations, resources?

Post by dhammarelax » Sat Jul 18, 2015 2:22 pm

philosopher wrote:Hello!

Since beginning to meditate about five years ago my pain tolerance has increased greatly (to the point that doctors are astonished and have said my tolerance is "eerie.") Much of the chronic pain I used to suffer from when I first began meditating has diminished (yay!), but I still have to undergo very deep / painful muscle release work every day in order to release muscle knots and tension. I would love to use this time towards developing concentration. Are there any guided meditations or instructions you may recommend? So far the techniques I've used to explore pain and increase tolerance towards it have been as follows:

-let go of storylines surrounding pain (unfairness of it, "I can't take anymore," "I'm going to get hurt," etc)
-"zoom in" with the attention to the pain itself. Get as "close" to it as I can so that the sensation of pain is the primary focus of my attention. In the stage I'm at now, this leads to very interesting fractions of seconds in which I am not feeling what I would call "pain" but rather very intense jolts of sensations. However my concentration is not strong at this point so these moments alternate with getting lost in storylines, or aversion, etc.
-broaden awareness so entire field of sensation is brought into awareness, including parts of the body that are experiencing pleasant/neutral feelings of relaxation, stillness, etc. trying to allow the feeling of pain to be within in an ocean of experience
-observe feeling tone of the experience - i.e. my attitude towards the pain itself. try to observe the aversion. I'm not very skilled at this at the moment. usually the pain is so intense I am unable to "step back" and observe the aversion that arises.


Just to clarify, the level of pain I'm talking about here is on the scale of 7-10, normally treated with narcotic painkillers and, at the highest end of the level, have left my mind observing the pain as so intense that my body might pass out, and wondering if it would happen (while still maintaining a sense of detachment).

Any tips or instructions you know of would be very helpful. I'd very much like to reach absorption states and have pain can be used an object to reach the jhanas.

:anjali:
Generally speaking, and in absence of contact, perceptions, including pain, greatly diminish in the formless jhanas, if you are interested in using jhana check this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifMKRRzlY6A" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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dhammarelax
Even if the flesh & blood in my body dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, & bones, I will use all my human firmness, human persistence and human striving. There will be no relaxing my persistence until I am the first of my generation to attain full awakening in this lifetime. ed. AN 2.5

philosopher
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Re: Using pain as object of meditation - instructions, guided meditations, resources?

Post by philosopher » Sun Jul 26, 2015 8:04 pm

mikenz66 wrote:This talk may be of interest:
Bhikkhu Bodhi: Working with Pain
Bhikkhu Bodhi has a lot of experience of meditating with pain.

:anjali:
Mike
Thank you, Mike; this was extremely helpful and just what I was looking for. The Shinzen Young talks Bhikku Bodhi references towards the end are available on YouTube and are superb.

I'm excited - this is definitely going to lead to a deeper exploration of pain sensations as an aid in practice.

:anjali:

A fool from HK
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Re: Using pain as object of meditation - instructions, guided meditations, resources?

Post by A fool from HK » Tue Mar 29, 2016 4:30 am

Hi Friends,

Is observing pain conductive to the development of Samatha?

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katavedi
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Re: Using pain as object of meditation - instructions, guided meditations, resources?

Post by katavedi » Tue Mar 29, 2016 11:34 am

Hello Fool (that doesn't sound polite, does it?),
A fool from HK wrote:Hi Friends,

Is observing pain conductive to the development of Samatha?
Pain can be used as an object for concentration, but 1) it would have to be a fairly steady sensation (i.e., not disappearing for stretches of time), and 2) you would have to be able to observe the pain without aversion, but with equanimity. If you can do that for long enough, the pain may transform into pleasure as piti arises.

Best wishes,
katavedi
“But, Gotamī, when you know of certain things: ‘These things lead to dispassion, not to passion; to detachment, not to attachment; to diminution, not to accumulation; to having few wishes, not to having many wishes; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to socializing; to the arousing of energy, not to indolence; to simple living, not to luxurious living’ – of such things you can be certain: ‘This is the Dhamma; this is the Discipline; this is the Master’s Teaching.’”

Saoshun
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Re: Using pain as object of meditation - instructions, guided meditations, resources?

Post by Saoshun » Tue Mar 29, 2016 11:38 am

Is not that pain as object for meditating (concentration or pain) make it more painful ?


For me it's very hard, actually even little pain can drop me out of meditation, but I used to see inevitability of this moment, if you can see that whatever happens - happened already and it's inevitability of this you will natural leave it alone to itself.
Remember… the Buddha had said that everyone living in this world is crazy, by the phrase, “Sabbē prutajjana ummattakā”; excluding the Arahants, everyone else is crazy. Would you get angry if a mad person scolds? Do we get angry for a crazy thing done by a crazy person? Just think about it! :candle:

JohnK
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Re: Using pain as object of meditation - instructions, guided meditations, resources?

Post by JohnK » Tue Mar 29, 2016 4:02 pm

Hi, Saoshun.
Saoshun wrote:Is not that pain as object for meditating (concentration or pain) make it more painful ?
For me it's very hard, actually even little pain can drop me out of meditation...
One approach:
"Pain" is a conclusion, an abstraction, an interpretation (a creation) based on the experience of some actual sensations. That interpretation contains w/in it a "you" that the pain is happening to and so also an aversion to the pain that has been created. Instead, pay attention to the actual sensations. Is there heat? Is there tingling? Is it sharp or diffuse? Do the sensations move? Does the intensity change? So, making those sensations the object of attention will not make them more "painful." However, the mind will often re-assert the interpretation that the sensations = pain, that is happening to a you, who doesn't want it, and suffering ensues. This process happens moment-by-moment and itself can be the object of awareness.
Oh, and you said it drops you out of meditation -- that might depend on how you are defining meditation -- the approach I just described is a type of meditation.
Best wishes on the path.
"...the practice is essentially a practice, and not a theory to be idly discussed...right view leaves unanswered many questions about the cosmos and the self, and directs your attention to what needs to be done to escape from the ravages of suffering." Thanissaro Bhikkhu, On The Path.

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katavedi
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Re: Using pain as object of meditation - instructions, guided meditations, resources?

Post by katavedi » Tue Mar 29, 2016 4:10 pm

Yes, John is describing a method that heads more in the direction of insight development, and I was answering your question based on your desire to develop samadhi.

But if the pain is disturbing enough that you can't use it as an object for samadhi, I would recommend using a method like John described in order to develop detachment and equanimity in regards to the pain. Once you can watch it with a steady mind (as in satipatthana practice), you may then choose to use it to develop samadhi. Or, as an alternative, you can continue to investigate its impermanent, unsatisfactory, non-self nature and move further toward insight.

Insight develops concentration, and concentration develops insight.

Best wishes,
katavedi
“But, Gotamī, when you know of certain things: ‘These things lead to dispassion, not to passion; to detachment, not to attachment; to diminution, not to accumulation; to having few wishes, not to having many wishes; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to socializing; to the arousing of energy, not to indolence; to simple living, not to luxurious living’ – of such things you can be certain: ‘This is the Dhamma; this is the Discipline; this is the Master’s Teaching.’”

Saoshun
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Re: Using pain as object of meditation - instructions, guided meditations, resources?

Post by Saoshun » Tue Mar 29, 2016 8:28 pm

I also did one time when I was feeling emotionally painful so to speak, that I felt and recognized this emotion as it is and treat it as not mine but label is as emotion of all people who suffering and I'm taking it on myself, this actually worked very well to create pain into little joyfulness not really bliss. Rapturing joy but it's not works always the same.
Remember… the Buddha had said that everyone living in this world is crazy, by the phrase, “Sabbē prutajjana ummattakā”; excluding the Arahants, everyone else is crazy. Would you get angry if a mad person scolds? Do we get angry for a crazy thing done by a crazy person? Just think about it! :candle:

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