Stop allowing physical discomfort to control your thoughts!

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Stop allowing physical discomfort to control your thoughts!

Postby ZenDrumming » Sun Nov 13, 2011 10:12 pm

I have IBS and have had stomach/nausea problems all my life. It has actually probably been my biggest challenge in life so far, to deal with these issues while living a "normal" life.

Recently, I had a realization that every time my stomach would begin to hurt or cramp up, my mind went to dark, dark places. Unchecked, my thoughts would shift to desperation and thoughts of ending my life. Now I'm not saying that I ever actually contemplated suicide because of my stomach issues, and I have deep sympathy for anybody who has experienced chronic pain to such an extent, but my knee-jerk thoughts were always very extreme and violent. And they were also very easy to forget, after the experience ended.

What I have just described is the extreme end of the spectrum. But, because of experiencing and observing this extreme, I have become aware of the many, many little pains and discomforts that can so easily affect my attitude and thoughts WITHOUT ME REALIZING. That's right, until you become aware of the connection and the way your mind responds to these ailments, you will become immersed in the negative thoughts without realizing, or caring, why. For example, say I was driving to work and experienced a wave of nausea. My conditioned mind would choose to turn that physical feeling into negative thoughts that usually have nothing to do with the pain, such as "work is terrible", "today is going to be rough", "life sucks", etc. It may even be a few minutes until I realize I am feeling nauseous, because I was so involved in those reflexive thoughts. There is no point in blaming yourself for this, though, because you didn't consciously choose to connect the two.

The real shocker, though, came to me when I realized that these negative thought loops CONTRIBUTE to physical discomfort as well. Especially in the case of a nervous stomach, but also in all cases of illness in my opinion, a negative reaction to it will inhibit your recovery and solidify the ailment's place in your life. This is where some of you will surely disagree with me, but I do believe that our physical ailments are manifestations of our deep-seated emotional and spiritual states. I don't think that we initially (consciously) choose to experience any pain, but that we do have the power to build healthy, strong physical bodies using the power of Presence and acceptance. We promote health by focusing on health, and we promote illness by focusing on illness. Pain>negative thoughts>more pain is a cycle that will not break until you cut it off at the source; at the very moment when your mind chooses to create a problem out of it.

There are all kinds of ways to break the cycle, but here's what I do now. I first allow the pain to be, and stop fighting it. I remind myself that the pain can be experienced without judgment. No thoughts can instantly remove the pain, therefore no thoughts are relevant to the alleviation of pain. Pain in itself is not a negative thing. It just is. We can choose to respond in the best possible way to the pain, without giving it the power to take away our freedom (for example, I may miss a work meeting due to a debilitating IBS attack, but I can make that decision and follow through with it without guilt, worry, or panic).

This ties in very heavily with most of what is discussed on this forum, so I know I'm not breaking new ground here. I just would like to share this in case it has the ability to touch even one person in the right way at the right time.

EDIT: I know that a lot of this post is focused on thoughts. I don't think, like some do, that thoughts are a problem. The problem, in my opinion, is the attachment to thoughts/ideas/concepts. Positive thoughts, coming from the Source, can be a very transformative and constructive force, and while we are in these human bodies we don't really have many other ways in which to deal.
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Re: Stop allowing physical discomfort to control your though

Postby magicbutterfly » Mon Nov 14, 2011 4:39 am

Zendrumming, what an insightful post! Millions of lightbulbs are going off in my head! :idea: :idea: :idea: Thanks!
"As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease." Ekhart Tolle, The Power of Now
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Re: Stop allowing physical discomfort to control your though

Postby ZenDrumming » Mon Nov 14, 2011 5:28 am

:D
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Re: Stop allowing physical discomfort to control your though

Postby 18andlife » Mon Nov 14, 2011 11:04 pm

I know that a lot of this post is focused on thoughts. I don't think, like some do, that thoughts are a problem. The problem, in my opinion, is the attachment to thoughts/ideas/concepts.


Good insight! An opinion isn't a required qualifier for that particular statement. What you said about thought/attachment is a fact. Interestingly the way we often miss seeing that fact is by becoming too attached to thoughts/ideas/concepts.

Good post, by the way.
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Re: Stop allowing physical discomfort to control your though

Postby ZenDrumming » Tue Nov 15, 2011 1:31 am

18andlife wrote:
I know that a lot of this post is focused on thoughts. I don't think, like some do, that thoughts are a problem. The problem, in my opinion, is the attachment to thoughts/ideas/concepts.


Good insight! An opinion isn't a required qualifier for that particular statement. What you said about thought/attachment is a fact. Interestingly the way we often miss seeing that fact is by becoming too attached to thoughts/ideas/concepts.


I do agree with you. I just have found that, most times, when I become certain of something, I am always eventually shown the other side and my certainty gives way to a broader perspective. I would cringe to read something I wrote with certainty 3 years ago (I am only 24, so much has changed in a short time frame), so it's hard for me to say that "now" I have the ability to decipher universal truth.

....yes, I just read your last sentence again and I realized how ironic my response was. I was going to just erase it but thought maybe you'd get a chuckle.

Thanks for the input :D
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Re: Stop allowing physical discomfort to control your though

Postby magicbutterfly » Sun Feb 10, 2013 7:18 pm

By the way, I think I know how to lessen IBS pain - cut out wheat products from your diet.
"As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease." Ekhart Tolle, The Power of Now
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Re: Stop allowing physical discomfort to control your though

Postby ZenDrumming » Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:03 am

magicbutterfly wrote:By the way, I think I know how to lessen IBS pain - cut out wheat products from your diet.


Thanks for popping back in. I was at my gastro dr today and he said the same thing. Dairy should be avoided too, which is tough because cheese is amazing. :D
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Re: Stop allowing physical discomfort to control your though

Postby heidi » Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:24 pm

Hi ZenDrumming -
Thanks for posting this helpful thread.
You are so right about the problem not being thoughts but the attachment to them.
I have been doing a lot of inquiry with a facilitator lately. Recently she shared this little 13 minute body awareness meditation that is a very simple and powerful way of just sitting in the body as awareness and allowing everything - even those aches and pains to be just as they are. The amazing thing that occurs is the realization that nothing lasts, no thought, no image, no sensation lasts, there's always flux and change. Pain is indeed increased when there is resistance, and physical pain, like a thought, does drift in and out when allowed.

I just uploaded to my website so I could share it with you and anyone else who might be helped by this. I put it on my ipod and listen with my left ear. :D
http://heidimayo.com/julianne-body-awareness.mp3
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Re: Stop allowing physical discomfort to control your though

Postby treasuretheday » Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:13 pm

I'm chiming in with all the others to say, beautiful, beautiful post, ZenDrumming! Thanks. There's not a soul who couldn't benefit from what you have experienced and written so well about!

Heidi, that's a lovely guided meditation. Nice of you to share it!
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Re: Stop allowing physical discomfort to control your though

Postby ashley72 » Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:52 pm

treasuretheday wrote:I'm chiming in with all the others to say, beautiful, beautiful post, ZenDrumming! Thanks. There's not a soul who couldn't benefit from what you have experienced and written so well about!


Treasuetheday,

What is happening, is fear of fear itself has formed a positive feedback loop or self-reinforcing loop.

This diagram below illustrates the cycle. The only way to short-circuit the loop is by utter utter acceptance of ALL bodily sensations or thoughts which arise. In other words, you have to bring utter self-acceptance in to your life.

On the deepest level our attentional focus is the underlying driver. It actually gets stuck in panic loops, one of the first thing you should notice after self-acceptance.... is your attention re-aligning with present moment specific tasks. You suddenly shift back to do normal tasks with renewed enthusiasm. It is if space has opened up in your life again. :wink:

Image

BTW, most people that have nervous illness try and "suppress" their bodily sensations or nerve sensations. Suppressing or avoiding bodily sensations only serves to create more nervous tension. The nervous sufferer than becomes "sensitized" and nervous fatigue sets in.
Last edited by ashley72 on Wed Feb 13, 2013 7:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Stop allowing physical discomfort to control your though

Postby heidi » Wed Feb 13, 2013 7:04 pm

Hey Ashley -
Q: Where's the diagram for what happens when everything is allowed to be just as it is?
A: It's unfinable! :mrgreen:
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Re: Stop allowing physical discomfort to control your though

Postby ashley72 » Wed Feb 13, 2013 7:19 pm

heidi wrote:Hey Ashley -
Q: Where's the diagram for what happens when everything is allowed to be just as it is?
A: It's unfinable! :mrgreen:


I'm guessing here, but its probably a negative feedback loop, which is also called a balanced loop. Most of our bodily functions operate using negative feedback loops.

An example of a negative feedback is the way our body regulates or keeps a constant internal temperature of 37 degrees Celsius. We do this by continually dancing around the set target. If we're too cold we shiver and get goose bumps on our skin. If we're too hot we start sweating.
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Re: Stop allowing physical discomfort to control your though

Postby RCharles » Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:13 am

Great posts, Zen and Ashley. I have had a chronic allergic rash that sometimes makes me feel itchy all over. I find that itching is just a thought that does not have to be obeyed with scratching. Just like any other thought, the "pain" of the itch can be watched without action. Often the itching goes away when ignored. Unfortunately, I cannot use that technique when asleep because my body unconsciously scratches, but it works while awake to break the itch/scratch cycle. I'm sure this is how spiritual masters overcome pain, cold, etc.
"They are all...perfect..." --Ken Watanabe, dying scene in the movie The Last Samurai
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Re: Stop allowing physical discomfort to control your though

Postby treasuretheday » Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:34 pm

Thanks for the detailed visual & explanation, Ashley! Something tells me you're a college professor! You always seem to have interesting visual aids at your fingertips & you present your ideas with genuine enthusiasm! If you're not teaching, maybe you should be!

ZenDrumming, I am thinking about the implications of your insights in terms of being a "helper" to those in pain or experiencing illness. I've spent time as a volunteer, "ministering" to the sick and to the dying. I always walk into a hospital room with the intention of meeting the person where they are, & harbor no preconceived ideas about what I may do or say, or how the visit will go, ordinarily. I play it by ear.

I glean from your experience that another way to help could be to offer a guided meditation like the one Heidi posted. (I would of course, need to learn how to do that!). Any other ideas about what "spiritual care" would be helpful, given your revelations?

ZenDrumming wrote:our physical ailments are manifestations of our deep-seated emotional and spiritual states. I don't think that we initially (consciously) choose to experience any pain, but that we do have the power to build healthy, strong physical bodies using the power of Presence and acceptance.


Yes, we don't consciously choose illness or pain, but I do believe something deeper is at work when conditions strike. And....we can help ourselves heal! My sister has had three serious cancers diagnosed in the last five years. A brain tumor, breast & lung cancer, then a metastisis to her tracheal lymph node. Surgery, radiation, chemo...she had it all. She's doing great now. I think her outlook has helped her heal more than anything. She welcomes each day with love, enthusiasm and courage. She's an inspiration! (As are you!). :)
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Re: Stop allowing physical discomfort to control your though

Postby ZenDrumming » Fri Feb 15, 2013 5:15 am

Many thanks for the guided meditation, Heidi. And Ashley, your diagram is spot on. Once the momentum is built, the whole process is so far from reality.

RCharles wrote:Great posts, Zen and Ashley. I have had a chronic allergic rash that sometimes makes me feel itchy all over. I find that itching is just a thought that does not have to be obeyed with scratching. Just like any other thought, the "pain" of the itch can be watched without action. Often the itching goes away when ignored. Unfortunately, I cannot use that technique when asleep because my body unconsciously scratches, but it works while awake to break the itch/scratch cycle. I'm sure this is how spiritual masters overcome pain, cold, etc.


Itches were one of my big obstacles to meditation (and because of my OCD a scratch on the left side means a scratch on the right :lol: ). You're right that we can choose to observe without reacting. Itches are the perfect metaphor for the way every little thing can sidetrack us until we live deliberately. That's what I've come to realize OCD is... it's a brain-itch. And like a rash, it only gets worse when you scratch it.

treasuretheday wrote:ZenDrumming, I am thinking about the implications of your insights in terms of being a "helper" to those in pain or experiencing illness. I've spent time as a volunteer, "ministering" to the sick and to the dying. I always walk into a hospital room with the intention of meeting the person where they are, & harbor no preconceived ideas about what I may do or say, or how the visit will go, ordinarily. I play it by ear.

I glean from your experience that another way to help could be to offer a guided meditation like the one Heidi posted. (I would of course, need to learn how to do that!). Any other ideas about what "spiritual care" would be helpful, given your revelations?


To me, it sounds like you're approaching it in the best way possible, with love and acceptance. I agree that guided meditations sound like a positive tool, as long as he/she is on board. I think it's also important to treat them like you would anybody else. You have to be an open space for them. That's really all you can do.

You have a strong spirit to do what you do, those people are lucky to have you.

treasuretheday wrote:Yes, we don't consciously choose illness or pain, but I do believe something deeper is at work when conditions strike. And....we can help ourselves heal! My sister has had three serious cancers diagnosed in the last five years. A brain tumor, breast & lung cancer, then a metastisis to her tracheal lymph node. Surgery, radiation, chemo...she had it all. She's doing great now. I think her outlook has helped her heal more than anything. She welcomes each day with love, enthusiasm and courage. She's an inspiration! (As are you!). :)


That is inspiring and beautiful to hear about your sister's recovery. It really gives some perspective huh?

This thread resurfaced at a very good time for me, actually, I'm grateful for the contributions.

ZenDrumming wrote:I would cringe to read something I wrote with certainty 3 years ago


Well, I did make a funny face, but it wasn't cringe-worthy yet... I'll give it another year. :lol:
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