Posted by Scot on 05/23/2008 17:58:59
In reply to Pain posted by john the younger on 05/23/2008 06:36:45
Yes indeed, your marvelous post on "Pain" is a great springboard from
our recent discussions on "suffering" and well within Perk's idea of
the "visceral companions"! This is real, elemental stuff and the nitty-
gritty of the human condition that we all share.
I can personally relate to the descriptions of your own, your daughters
and your wife's pain. My wife has suffered with fibromyalgia, chronic
fatigue and Graves disease for many years and I have a back injury
that's now a decade old but still occasionally compromises my mobility.
This can present daunting challenges for my wife and also for my own
professional life and for my avocation as an active musician.
I've heard about moving towards detatchment or neutrality by
objectifying pain through mindfulness practice. This is in the realm
of 'feel your feelings' and the idea is to begin by employing a game
of 'sleight of hand' and dissociating the emotional side,('Oh, I hurt
so bad!') by intellectualizing the sensation of pain as just
another 'equal opportunity' sensate experience like all the other
sensations in our field of experience that are constantly competing for
Chocolate is a flavor, blue is a color, thunder goes boom and stubbing
our toes are all part of the panorama of our sensations. The idea is
that by focusing our awareness on our specific sensations we can begin
to have more choice or even mastery about how these sensations define
I have stubbed my toe and focused my attention to that part of my body.
It turned into the sensation of a 'warm glow' after a while, but I
would still say that it 'hurt' and to further put the experience into
words I'd have to identify the sensation as 'pain'. So, I'd say that I
have some considerable distance to go with this practice. I wonder if I
could ever muster the presence of mind to attempt this kind of focus
with awareness practice when (if this becomes the circumstances of my
death) I become terminally ill?
Recently, I went through the difficult experience of assisting a client
that was terminally ill. As I've mentioned, I professionally care for
adults with developmental disabilities. This man had severe cognitive
impairment and difficulties with verbal communication.
We (direct care staff) could tell by body language and some verbal
expression that he was in pain, but we were often left with guessing
about the actual levels of pain and the awareness that the client had
about his general state of being. We weren't even certain if he
completely understood death or that he was dying, but towards the end
it seemed as if he had reached this understanding. Needless to say,
this was heartbreaking for all those that were connected to this very