Aversion to Pain.

Our Aversion to Pain.

We are all hooked up to seek pleasure and avoid pain. We do this to such an extent that we cause all kinds of problems for ourselves and others. It's a natural compulsion to shirk away from painful experience so there is no blame here. We all do it in one way or another.

Since ancient times the buddhists have been using a practice called Tonglen. In this practice we breath in our suffering, we welcome it in (as best we can) in the moment. We breath IN the pain. And we breath out compassion to those who are suffering the same pain.

This kind of practice, and also so much of what I do with people is to learn to be WITH pain, instead of trying to "get rid of it". Lots of other modalities and therapies are about reframing, changing, or attempting to control and suppress our emotions. Which ultimately doesn't work as life includes the pain, just as it includes the pleasures. The issue is our grasping at one and pushing away the other.

Trauma, and emotional distress is nothing more than trapped energy we hold in our system. If we can learn to stay present with these energetic sensations of pain and welcome them in (as best we can) the trapped energy starts to move.

The main factor here is presence, when we stay present to our pain then we are bringing presence to the trapped energy of the past. And this is what transmutes trauma, the energy unsticks and starts to move.

If we cannot relax, we stay present with the tension held in our system. We look at the story, notice the thoughts, and then direct our attention back down into the felt sense of the moment.

The more we do this, the more our system naturally relaxes into the pain. The more our aversion to the pain ebbs away the more we can rest with whatever is happening in the moment as our nervous system clears.

Pain is inevitable, emotional pain and physical pain, when we start to reverse the pattern and move toward that which we have moved away from we are rewiring our whole system. It takes time, vigilance and practice to see where we are still abandoning ourselves, and a high level of presence to be able to catch ourselves in the moment its happening. It can play out in such subtle ways.

If we all begin to move toward our pain, instead of away from it I truly believe we would have unbelievable shifts in the way we treat each other, treat our planet and we would begin to move toward a better world for all. Our aversion to our pain causes us to project it outwards, to hurt others, to hurt the planet, and to act it out in ways that really break our own hearts and the hearts of others. The aversion to pain and the grasping at pleasure is what has driven us collectively for a long, long time now.

So begin exactly where you are, be with what is here and now. In this moment move very gently toward your pain. See the minds stories, don't do anything with them, just see them, and then come down, and breathe, and feel.


Matt Nettleton


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