Standing With Pain: III, a terça parte

…Or withstanding it?

I would like to suggest that standing with it were a more useful response. This is because the minute we try to avoid the physical discomfort, we have already generated “another nail,” so to speak. Now we have three points of impalement:
The first, the brain’s interpretation of the actual sensory stimulus as the poor unsuspecting foot strikes the nail,
The second, the mental projections & proliferations that ensue as the mind constructs a scaffold of meaning around the event,
And the third the potential dis-ease with the whole affair altogether, the aversion to it and the concomitant desire to escape it.
(1) “Ouch! That’s a nail and this is my foot!”
(2) “I’m probably going to contract tetanus and suffer till I die”
(3) “This is a horrible way to spend the afternoon & I prefer pleasure to suffering. How can I escape this unpleasant experience?”

The crucial point to note about this sequence is that the first step is the only one that has any connection to an actual event. Everything that follows abides exclusively within the mind; mere figments, possessing no more (meta)physical substance than puffs of smoke issuing from an attendant’s cigarette—kaleidoscopic villainies wrought of a single sensory stimulus.

Practical implications?

We can practice not making a mountain out of a mole-hill simply by repeatedly returning our attention to the original sensory stimulus, resisting the mental torrents that pull us into the vortex of suffering. By appreciating that our own consciousness is largely responsible for generating it’s own experience of pain, we can thereby lessen it. After all, isn’t one nail enough? Especially if it’s rusty.

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