Meditating on Painful Sensations

Feelings like being cold, hot, hungry, full, heavy, or dizzy, or having a headache, a toothache, a stuffy nose, a sore throat, or pain your knees or lower back, are pretty much directly – though not always pleasantly – present to awareness. Because pain and discomfort are such direct sensations, they’re actually very effective objects of meditative focus. Most of us regard pain as a threat to our physical wellbeing. On one hand, when we worry or allow ourselves to become preoccupied by this threat, the pain itself almost always increases. On the other hand, if we consider pain or discomfort as an object of meditation, we can use such sensations to increase our capacity for clarity, simply through watching the mind deal with various solutions.

~ by Yongey Minyur Rinpoche, “The Joy of Living” , page 147

Recognizing the Power…

Recognizing the power of our minds means that even as unfortunate or terrible things happen to us, we can receive them in a more spacious and ultimately more enlightened way. The Buddha taught his students to develop a power of love so strong that the mind becomes like space that cannot be tainted. If someone throws paint, it is not the air that will change color. Space will not hold the paint; it will not grasp it in any way. Only the walls, the barriers to space, can be affected by the paint. The Buddha taught his students to develop a power of love so strong that their minds become like a pure, flowing river that cannot be burned. No matter what kind of material is thrown into it, it will not burn. Many experiences–good, bad, and indifferent–are thrown into the flowing river of our lives, but we are not burned, owing to the power of the love in our hearts.

–Sharon Salzberg