What We Lose When We Turn Away From Pain


These thoughts arose from my stuffy nose sitting meditation.  I’d been down this road before. A sinus infection, a cold, a relentless headache.  None of these are an excuse to skip meditation, in my mind.  At the same time, none make it any more pleasant. Over the years, I have begun to think of each pain, each sick, painful or “off” feeling as an opportunity to deepen the practice.  I suppose one could say this about any adversity.

As if I needed to forewarn myself, I acknowledged that this would be my stuffy nose meditation.  Almost, as if to banish any expectations of relief or potential serenity.  So, I set my timer for a conservative 15 minutes which I rationalized was adequate to sit with my stuffy nose, in my tired body.  My routine is to always start with observing the breath from its moment of entry.  So there it was.  The breath wasn’t going to make its way into my nose today and my mouth was getting dry and lips were chapped from the dry air. I was in acceptance and I knew that was fine.  I would simply sit in expansive awareness and notice the totality of the experience.

Then, it arose.  The utter boredom.  It happened in a flash.  My mind had tired of being with this unpleasantness and sought greener pastures. It’s not even that I thought of good things, just anything other than what is. I had started to get absorbed in planning a task. I caught myself and laughed. If I am going to be with something else even mildly adverse that is not even happening, I might as well be with what is.  Here I have the advantage of a truly feeling in real time.

There was certainly much more richness within the present experience than the breath.  There was the cozy comforter I had positioned around my meditation cushion.  It was warm, quiet and there was nothing to have to do but just be.  It was then that the fullness of the experience was present before me.  When we turn away from pain, we turn away from the only moment we have.  In that way, we don’t just avoid what is negative but miss what is full and good.  I emerged from my meditation with a stuffy nose and a smile.

It was not that long ago that it occurred to me that wherever we are we need to practice being there, even if it is unpleasant or boring.  Otherwise, we will soon find ourselves somewhere else during those times it really matters, being only partially present with people we truly care about.  Read more in “Wherever You are You are Somewhere Else”

If you haven’t done so already I, along with meditation teacher, Sharon Salzberg, challenge you to join us on this 28 day Real Happiness journey. In addition to resources at SharonSalzberg.com check out MyMindfulWayofLife.com and access a free sample meditation to follow along: Click for meditation

Come along there is still time to Begin!


May all beings be happy ♡