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We have examined the relationship between physical pain and stress in the last couple of lessons. It is very important to be aware of this relationship, and to be aware of when you are stressed. It is only then that you will see that you have a choice.  You can choose to continue the struggle that is creating the stress, or you can choose to give up whatever you are struggling for and relieve the pain. This is not always an easy choice, but unless you see that you do have a choice, you are a prisoner of pain and stress. Just as a skilled warrior must constantly pay attention for signs of danger, you should develop an awareness of the subtle cues that precede stress and pain. That way you can exercise your choices early, and obtain the most benefit. To become more aware of when you are stressed, get in the habit of looking for the signs of stress. You can look for the sensations, emotions, and thoughts of stress, which are related to attempts to control an uncontrollable situation. We summarized some of these in the last lesson.  If you recall the SEAT of pain, you will remember that Sensations, Emotions, and Thoughts are also components of physical pain, and that these are very similar to those of stress.  Stress and physical pain are intimately interrelated. If you detect the signs of stress, how do you deal with them? Our natural reaction to physical pain, emotional pain, and painful thoughts is to fight them or to try to escape from them. If you have watched what happens when you try to fight or escape, you will know that this only makes things worse. Trying to control the powerful forces of physical, emotional, and mental pain leads to more stress and more pain. We recommend a more intelligent, refined approach. Suppose you are a very skillful warrior, highly trained in various martial arts techniques. You are facing a huge, powerful, highly skilled and menacing opponent. Your opponent attacks you.  Quick, what do you do? A direct confrontation with such a formidable opponent might prove deadly - for you. Take a tip from martial art styles such as aikido, jujutsu, or judo.  In these arts, you keep close watch of your opponent, and you give way to an attacking force. Rather than opposing the attacking force directly, you step aside and go along with the attack. You use your opponent's strength against him. At the very least, your opponent will tire out and leave you alone. When dealing with painful sensations, emotions, or thoughts, be a skilled warrior and do not FIGHT them, FLEE from them, or FEED them.  Watch them closely, ADMIT them and ALLOW them.  After you ACKNOWLEDGE them thusly, without opposing them, relax and gently return your attention to what you were doing. You will find that what is troubling you will eventually go away all by itself. This is something you can verify for yourself - you do not have to take anyone's word for it. Try it! Just as with martial arts, practice is important in perfecting this technique. It is not the natural, reflexive thing to do.  That is why so may people suffer, and why it is so difficult to learn. How do you practice to become more skilled?  Read the next section on the ReSET. ================================================= Building Awareness with the ReSET ReSET is an acronym that stands for Relax, and then investigate your Sensations, Emotions, and Thoughts. To practice this, take a deep breath into your abdomen, hold it for a couple of seconds, and then exhale, relaxing and letting go of all the tension in your body.  Now focus on your Sensations. Scan your body up and down, and pay attention to the feelings in your legs, torso, shoulders and head. Continue to relax and let go of any tension, but do not try to change any of your sensations. Just be aware of them. Now focus on your Emotions. Ask yourself if you are angry, fearful, anxious, or guilty. Pay attention to the feelings in your head, shoulders, and chest for clues. This is a natural extension of the previous step of focusing on your sensations. Just remember to continue relaxing, and don't try to change your emotions. Simply be aware of them. Finally, examine your Thoughts. Are you fighting or defending anything? Look for defensive or protective thoughts, aggressive thoughts, and fearful thoughts. Continue relaxing and inquiring, without trying to change your thoughts. The ReSET can be done practically anywhere, and it only takes a few seconds. It is a great way to build increased awareness of your body and mind. To get in the habit, think of something you do frequently every day, such as going to the water cooler or restroom. Affirm to yourself that you will do a ReSET every time you go there. You can put a reminder note there if you wish. That way you will establish a habit of doing ReSETs. Other excellent times to ReSET are right when you wake up, before you get out of bed, before meals, and especially right after you go to bed at night. It gets the day, and night, off to a good, relaxed, and aware start. Also, when you are experiencing any discomfort, either physical or emotional, try ReSETing. ================================================= Featured Quote The following selection from J. Krishnamurti seems particularly relevant to this lesson, although it may be rather difficult to understand in parts: "To be aware is to watch your bodily activity, the way you walk, the way you sit, the movements of your hands; it is to hear the words you use, to observe all your thoughts, all your emotions, all your reactions.  It includes awareness of the unconscious, with its traditions, its instinctual knowledge, and the immense sorrow it has accumulated - not only personal sorrow, but the sorrow of man. You have to be aware of all that; and you cannot be aware of it if you are merely judging, evaluating, saying, "this is good and that is bad, this I will keep and that I will reject," all of which only makes the mind dull, insensitive. "From awareness comes attention. Attention flows from awareness when in that awareness there is no choice, no personal choosing, no experiencing, but merely observing. And, to observe, you must have in the mind a great deal of space. A mind that is caught in ambition, greed, envy, in the pursuit of pleasure and self-fulfillment, with its inevitable sorrow, pain, despair, anguish - such a mind has no space in which to observe, to attend. It is crowded with its own desires, going round and round in its own backwaters of reaction.  You cannot attend if your mind is not highly sensitive, sharp, reasonable, logical, sane, healthy, without the slightest shadow of neuroticism.  The mind has to explore every corner of itself, leaving no spot uncovered, because if there is a single dark corner of one's mind which one is afraid to explore, from that springs illusion. "It is only in the state of attention that you can be a light unto yourself, and then every action of your daily life springs from that light - every action - whether you are doing your job, cooking, going for a walk, mending clothes, or what you will.  This whole process is meditation."

A Warrior’s Guide to Overcoming Pain - The ReSET

© 2016 by Dr. Ken Pfeiffer