The tiniest moments of awareness

Here you may share how the words Eckhart Tolle have affected your life.

The tiniest moments of awareness

Postby Lianna » Wed Sep 13, 2017 2:27 pm

For the tiniest moment today I felt something new.
I have a chronic illness, that causes brain-fog and memory loss. The brain-fog is like a terrible tired, dreary, heavy blanket stuffed in my skull, making everything a complete haze. Its like waking up from surgery but the anaesthesia drugs are not gone from the body yet. It feels like a wall my mind cannot get through and its so terribly hard to focus, remember, function etc.

Now, I have been 'suffering' from this for more than 16 years (34 years old now). And something struck me today. A tiny moment made me aware of something after listening to many talks by Eckhart.
I was doing chores in the house, and my brain felt so tired and heavy, misty and horrible, with poor vision and dizziness. I thought to myself 'I feel like crap, I feel horrible'.
I felt so unhappy, because I wanted to be active, clear and awake.
Then suddenly I felt laughter coming up...
Because my brain still felt like heavy mist and horrid crappiness, but something deeper inside of me was unaffected by it and I noticed that. It felt like moving out of my body and mind and hovering in a pleasant space, seeing from outside.
I felt awareness of 'how my mind did not cooperate with itself' and believed that it 'needed itself to function, but it did not function so it did not have itself'... very unpractical.. lol :)
I noticed that it did not necessarily have to function perfectly because the awareness/consciousness is enough on its own. The laughter came from an inkling of how ironic it is, funny actually.

When I feel that awareness, something in me goes like 'lol! it doesn't matter!'.
It doesn't matter, because consciousness is totally and utterly unaffected by it. The true me is, always, clear.
I actually could consider the brain-fog mind a blessing because it doesn't function and that forces me,.. absolutely 'forces' me, to learn to be with consciousness instead. Brain-fog should really be called 'mind-fog', because that is what it is. The mind feels foggy. If the tools I have (mind/body) do not work very well, then I cannot do anything else than be conscious right? There is no other way (no other sensible way).
My body still feels horrible and tired, fuzzy and blurry, exhausted and dizzy etc. My mind still feels like it cannot get through that wall and be clear. But for a small moment I really felt very clearly that.. although I would prefer a healthy body and functioning mind.. it's not needed persé.. its only needed if I belief that I am the mind, and need the mind to function, to function.

Its hard to put it to words, I guess I need to be with consciousness to really do that well. I wanted to write it down here to focus on it a bit more, on the experience and to realize further how I got there.
It sounds silly maybe, buts its almost like an out of body experience. Like looking down on the mind and body, and feeling how the limitations of the mind and body are just that.. limitations of 'only the mind and body'. The one that looks down on it, is flowy, light, airy and very much ok and unaffected by those limitations.
I just have to become super conscious, and then function from there. I can work on that. :)

Sorry if it doesn't make sense, I might have to work on how to explain it better.
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Re: The tiniest moments of awareness

Postby kiki » Wed Sep 13, 2017 6:08 pm

Leanna, I thought your post was marvelous. Ultimately, you are your own best teacher, and the more you write for your own understanding the more you will gain via insight, so don't worry so much about others understanding what you have to say. Writing is like a tool that helps rid oneself of the dross so that truth emerges out of your own essence all by itself. And by the way, your command of the English language is very good.

When I write I often pause and let myself "feel" the proper way to express something, looking for just the right word or phrasing so that the words correspond most closely with my own direct experience. This is especially true when I write about presence; for me, writing brings presence into the foreground. When you can clarify to yourself most precisely what you are intending to convey the reader will resonate with your words. I'd venture to say you can use this as a means to bring about presence just as it does for me. Don't be in a hurry, and be willing to fine tune everything by editing many times over until it feels just right.

Physical and mental afflictions can seem like huge impediments to presence, but don't view them as such. Instead, view them as opportunities to go deeper.

A suggestion: Dedicate some time each day to sitting down, closing your eyes and diving a little deeper by allowing your focus to "soften" around the brain-fog you describe and rest on something else, the underlying awareness. Putting some attention on the background of awareness will begin to loosen the grip brain-fog has on your thinking.

The challenge for many is that awareness seems elusive because it is without form; there's nothing that stands out to "grab onto", so it may be necessary to use an intermediate step on the level of form in order to discover the presence of formless awareness. My suggestion is to use the breath as a starting point. While sitting with eyes closed put attention on the breath. Don't try to manipulate the breath, but simply watch it closely. Notice everything about the process of breathing; notice the felt sensation it has as it comes in and goes out; notice the warmth and coolness of it; notice its length on the inhale and the exhale - is the inhale longer or the exhale longer; notice any pauses between each inhalation and exhalation - is the pause longer after the inhale or after the exhale? As you continue this you may notice pauses between breaths becoming longer and longer. When that happens simply rest in that pause, soak in it like you would soak in a warm luxurious bath. Become an expert on your breathing and each time the mind interrupts with a line of thinking simply return to the breath without judgment. Return again and again to feeling and watching the breath.

Doing this regularly interrupts what has become the default mode of fixating on brain-fog and fuzzy thinking. Attention is being drawn away from them and put on something else, in this case the breath. Throughout this exercise stay attuned to the hallmarks of awareness; the footprint of awareness is its alertness and knowingness, and its nature is silence, stillness and peace. These will begin to flower more and more and will follow you as you re-engage in the level of form. Regular practice will be most fruitful, and eventually you'll be able to do this outside of sit-down eyes closed sessions. This is like learning to ride a bike when you were a kid; at first you needed training wheels, and when you learned to balance on two wheels the training wheels were discarded. Once recognition of awareness becomes more and more familiar you will notice it while in activities.

Start with this and see what happens. Give it some time and be as regular as you can. I suggest twice a day for 15 minutes each time. If 15 minutes is too much then shorten it to 10; if you can go longer extend it to 20 minutes. For now I wouldn't do any more than that. The bottom line is not to judge any perceived failures.
"Miss Kelly, perhaps you'd like this flower. I seem to have misplaced my buttonhole ... Miss Kelly, you know, when you wear my flower you make it look beautiful." Elwood P. Dowd
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Re: The tiniest moments of awareness

Postby Lianna » Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:41 am

Thank you Kiki for understanding what I wrote :) and for allowing me to write for my own understanding. I really appreciate that I can do that here as well.
I understand what you mean when you write about pausing to 'feel' the proper way to express something.
It's something I can work on, because I know I rush and do not pause. Ironic about it (I noticed there is a lot of irony in how I do things) is that I suspect I rush it, because I am afraid to lose the thread to understanding/to consciousness. But the funny thing is that I actually lose it quicker by rushing, instead of pausing to be still and feel.

Your suggestion to sit every day, and to 'soften' my focus around the brain fog is really interesting to me. The word 'soften' makes a difference.

Before I tried to bring my awareness to the feeling of brain-fog, like Eckhart often suggests with emotions. I realize now, I treated it as an emotion instead of a physical form of suffering. When he talks about physical suffering, he suggests moving the attention to other places of the body that feel healthy and alive. And be with that. That is one thing that I realized when I was reading your reply.
Another is:
When I tried to do what you suggested ('softening' the focus on the brain-fog), what I felt was an instant relief. I noticed that the 'focus around the brain-fog', is actually truly something that is there. Like energy/like a density and a tension that feverishly tries to battle the fog and tiredness.
I often tend to think in images more than words. When I try to explain, the image that comes up is like a drawing of a circle with something in it. The inside of the circle is the brain-fog, and the line of the circle is the focus you wrote about.
The focus or wall of the circle pushes inward to fight what is inside (the feeling of brain-fog), but instead of making it disappear it creates a tension and makes the inside of the circle more dense. Its like squeezing a balloon to remove the air, but instead more tension is created because the air cannot go anywhere.
When I softened that focus, there was a feeling of expansion. I imagine it like the line expands or even disappears. Which lifts a feeling of tension that I was not even aware of. The tension and the fog felt as one thing, now I understand its two things. I can lift one, and the other stays but is less horrible to feel.
Does that make sense?

I cannot put to words how much relief it would bring if I can make that work more often.
So, thank you so very much for explaining/sharing that. I am definitely going to do that often, hopefully, all the time. I will also practice what you wrote about breath.

There is another thing I experienced. I would like to share that as well.
Yesterday, I watched another Eckhart video and heard him speak about 'being in the head' and 'going back in the body'.
I am aware of the fact that I am in the head most of the time, and in the past people told me I was, so I mentally knew. But I honestly did not 'understand' what it means to go back into the body. Or going into the heart, and all such things.
I did not understand.
I decided to write a question about that here on this forum another day.
Then I sat down to listen to more of his talks while drawing/doodling, which is something I have been doing for some days. To practice letting go of judgement and thoughts about what I make, and being still instead while I make it.
So I was doing that, and made about 4 sketches or so, messy and quick, and then looked at what I had made. First I judged it as being messy, then I looked at it a bit better and noticed something. I had sketched 4 woman, with swirls around and above them, and those swirls, to me.. very much seemed like thoughts.
I realized that I had maybe been drawing what it means to be 'in the head'.
This is one of them:

Image

The attention is all above her head, as thoughts.

I added the stars later, because I felt that it would be nice to underline that I am conciousness and not thoughts. Stars remind me of the universe and the universe reminds me of conciousness and space. So that's symbolic.
Is 'going in the body' simply moving awareness down into the body? And expanding by moving out of there. (again hard to put to words)
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Re: The tiniest moments of awareness

Postby kiki » Thu Sep 14, 2017 2:56 pm

I absolutely love your drawing, and especially the insight that arose for you about its meaning - very clear depiction of your intuitive understanding. Artists and musicians and even athletes remark how they get into a kind of "flow" when they are in their "groove" and are excelling in their activity. The mind activity shuts off and they simply perform with astonishing results.

I had very poor artistic talent when it came to drawing and I think it goes back to some criticism I had from a teacher when I was in 2nd grade, so I learned to hate art class while in school and always assumed I couldn't draw so I never really tried. As an adult I came across a book called Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards, and because of that book I learned to draw, which was a breakthrough for me.

That book teaches you how to utilize the side of the brain that is intuitive and spatial, the right side, and shift out of the side that is verbal, judgmental and critical. The result of this shift is a tuning down of the thought stream so the usual self-criticism is eliminated, which serves the purpose of just allowing the drawing to flow so you can simply draw what you see. The beginning exercises have you looking at a drawing upside down so what you are looking at doesn't look like anything in particular. That reduces the tendency for the mind to judge how closely your drawing compares to the original.

For example, if a depiction of a chair is upside down the mind no longer has a reference point of "chair"; instead, it's just a bunch of lines. Then, while drawing what is seen the idea of a "chair" is eliminated, so the right side takes in what is seen as simply lines to draw without simultaneously self-judging how much it does or doesn't look like a chair. This process sidesteps left brained thinking, which is the verbal side of the brain and where self-judgment/criticism comes.

I've used this method to teach kids to draw and the results are remarkable. I impress upon them that during this activity not to visit with their neighbors because that's a left brain activity, while drawing is a right brain activity (it's the same with music once you learn the basics). If they don't talk their drawings will be even better. The kids who were like me are always excited to see how well they can draw after they turn their drawings right side up. When I ask them afterwards what their experience is like while drawing they report that their minds are quiet, and they feel peaceful inside and they notice that time seems to stand still. In other words they are becoming present, and one with their activity, which in this case is drawing.

Many of your everyday activities don't rely on left brain thinking. If you are doing your taxes or measuring your floor for carpeting or are working some sort of math problem you rely on left brain thinking. When you don't need the left brain you can learn to shift to right brain dominance. That's the domain of presence. If you look at Tolle's pointers they all are designed to get you out of your head (left brain thinking/judgment) and more into the feeling side of your experience, which is right brain. Shifting attention away from the mind/thought-stream into feeling the inner body is a perfect example. This is nothing more than shifting from left brain to right brain.

Feeling the breath is the same thing. The breath is a very simple thing you can divert attention to throughout the day when you notice you have reverted back into thinking mode. It's the same thing with household chores. Instead of multitasking while doing chores by trying to mentally solve some problem at the same time, put all of your attention into the activity of the chore itself. If you are washing dishes put attention on the feeling of each step involved. When thoughts come back then return to the feeling of each step.

When taking a walk simply open to the sensory experience of walking, of looking at the environment, of feeling the weather, of hearing the sounds, of smelling the smells. The raw immediate experience of the senses will allow presence to arise. Do these things without the usual habit of labeling things. For example, when you look at an object just LOOK at it without naming it or judging it.

I am reminded of an experience I had with someone once while looking at some pine trees and being overwhelmed by what I saw. I pointed them out to her and she said, "Oh, I hate pine trees. They are so messy." She didn't really truly see the pine trees at all, and instead had compulsively returned to a judgment she had about them that was formed in the past. What she experienced was judgment, not the trees themselves that were simply existing and being the only thing they can be, a beautiful manifestation of nature that we humans have labelled "tree".

So, your senses are doorways to the present moment. Explore this for yourself, and continue with your doodling/art as a means to presence. It's a beautiful way to express to others your experience of presence in that particular form.
"Miss Kelly, perhaps you'd like this flower. I seem to have misplaced my buttonhole ... Miss Kelly, you know, when you wear my flower you make it look beautiful." Elwood P. Dowd
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Re: The tiniest moments of awareness

Postby painBody » Fri Sep 22, 2017 10:51 am

Hi, I'm sorry for not having something more meaningful to say.

But, you and I are exactly the same age :) And, I turned 34 on the day you wrote this post.

It's pathetic that something as insignificant as that caught my attention, but it did.

I guess I'm just alone and am lured by any signs of kinship. And we are kindred in age.

Hugs
:)
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Re: The tiniest moments of awareness

Postby Lianna » Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:41 am

Kiki,
I am sorry that it took a while before I returned to reply, I did read your answer a while ago but my life got so full of things that I constantly felt that I did not have the time to truly sit down for it, which is what I wanted.
I wanted this, because your post hit the nail on the head when it comes to art.
I actually was an artist in the past, but completely stopped making things. One reason was chronic health problems, that made me very tired. But another definitely was being blocked and not being able to find that absolute flow/absolute peacefulness while working. Instead, I felt unmotivated and wondered 'whats the use of art in this horrid world'. (lol, a bit of a dark thought, I know).
Before the complete artist block started, I had lost a friend that I had creatively worked together with for years. We had made something that had a lot of success, and he took the results all for himself, while pushing me away. We never became friends again. While before he was like family, like a brother.
This triggered a lot of pain, feelings of abandonment, a dent in who I thought I was in this world etc. After my childhood with parents that were depressed and severely addicted to alcohol, abandonment is something that triggers my emotions.
The childhood I had was filled with horrible incidents and traumatic experiences.

I did not make any art anymore, I was blocked and suffered from the illness I had. I was quite unhappy, insecure, low in motivation etc. So I looked for things that could help. Things that help healthwise, and psychologically. I saw a therapist, tried lots of other self-help things like meditation etc but remained stuck. Finally 'years' later, I remembered Eckhart tolle again and looked for his video's. Immediately it started helping a bit. After a couple of days, I experienced peacefulness again, took my drawing materials outside, sat in the sun under a tree and started. I made myself notice the sounds around me, the aliveness outside and inside me, the feeling of connection. The feeling of inner joy that is truly always there, even when you do not believe it is. I started feeling 'like myself'. I made a drawing that day, which actually was pretty good.
I decided to sign up here, to explore the teachings further.
And then, in our conversation here you wrote about art, and the left/right side of the brain. The book you mentioned etc.
That was pretty amazing!

Right now, I shift from being unconscious to being conscious for some moments and then shift back. So I am not stable in that yet, and easily get drawn back into my head again whenever things happen that trigger feelings of insecurity, abandonment, fear and inferiority. I was actually labeled/diagnosed as someone with an inferiority complex, generalized fear disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
At this time, I do not take that diagnosis as serious as I once did. I always knew and recognized that moments of fear and panic, deep sadness etc were moments in which I 'fall into the emotions of the past'. That is how I called it even before I knew that Eckhart calls it the painbody.
Its the painbody that was created in my childhood.
It makes perfect sense that 'falling back into the emotions of the past', or, in other words: 'being identified with that painbody', makes it hard to paint :) lol. Because its a total loss of awareness.
The painbody is truly almost like an entity.

There was even a time, when I was much younger,.. that I looked up a lot of information about entities, ghosts etc. Because I considered this as a possible problem that I had. Feeling a negative entity.
It was like that.. almost.. but the entity is my own painbody.

---
I have a lot of things going on in my life right now. I paint again :) and it has never been as technically good as it is now. When I placed one small painting on a social media platform the other day, I got 209 replies in one night. Like an applause almost. lol.
I believe I painted it nicely, because I practice being conscious, and I practice 'painting from that space'.
I do not always manage to do it, the awesome thing is that the painting that was most liked by the 'audience', was the one where I felt most connected, peaceful and quiet while working on it.
At this time I still use 'tools' to connect to the right side of the brain. Like music for example. But I think none of that is truly needed right? Its all inside.

My painbody did heavily arise again at some point, it was yesterday. It was not a gigantic drama, but I experienced a lot of fear, because there was a commission. It's ultimately a good thing, but it triggered the painbody (insecurity and thoughts of not being good enough). I considered canceling the commission.
But in the evening I realized what was happening and decided that I have to push myself to practice what Eckhart suggests, and what you suggested here.
There is a lack of time, because so many things are happening. But that makes it all the more important to practice. Otherwise, I will just get lost in my head and painbody. The busier it is, the easier it becomes to get lost in thoughts and emotions.

It seems like a good time to practice observing all that arises. Also observing that I tend to identify with 'being an artist', which is something to be careful with. It is only something that I am doing, with the material world, but its not who I am. Being with consciousness is ultimately more powerful and its stable.
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Re: The tiniest moments of awareness

Postby kiki » Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:53 am

Thanks for the update, Lianna.

Even on our busiest days we can always take a few moments to consciously connect with our breath, even if it's for only 10 or 15 seconds or a couple of cycles of inhalation and exhalation. Small moments like this repeated many times each day will help to build a foundation of presence that will grow.

As suggested earlier, use your daily chores and times of personal hygiene as avenues of singular immersion into whatever the particular activity is as a means of diverting away from thought-stream and into "feeling" mode. In other words, no more "multitasking", just one thing done at a time in a deeply conscious way.

There are countless ways to stay conscious throughout the day as you will soon discover if you only take the time to notice when those opportunities arise. You could even make it a sort of a fun challenge: Remind yourself -> "At what point today can I simply stop and consciously feel what's going on inside me for the next 10/15 seconds?" These tiny breaks serve to weaken the mortar that holds the storyline together that we are so unconsciously repeating to ourselves throughout the day. That conditioning will eventually crumble, freeing up immense space within you and bring a palpable peace and stillness into your life.

Take care, and keep me posted on what's going on.
"Miss Kelly, perhaps you'd like this flower. I seem to have misplaced my buttonhole ... Miss Kelly, you know, when you wear my flower you make it look beautiful." Elwood P. Dowd
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Re: The tiniest moments of awareness

Postby Lianna » Fri Oct 20, 2017 11:28 am

Thank you Kiki!
I love reading your replies.

I have been struggling a bit the last couple of days. I decided to write about it in a journal (that I just started today because I seemed unable to solve it in another Eckhart-like way).
What happened is that I was doing pretty ok, for the first time in years. The things I learned from Eckhart and here really helped me. I was able to paint, and got so many positive reactions from people from all kinds of places, that I was baffled. (in an enthusiastic way)
It has been a time in which I could prove to myself that I can truly do more then I believed before, if I just calm down and stay awake and conscious.
But that is of course where the challenge started.

I was being very productive, worked on drawings every day.
A family member of mine is pregnant, 8 months at this time. I wanted to give her a gift for the baby, had 100 ideas, but asked her if she needed anything specific. She asked me if I could make a mural.
I am still chronically ill, and the illness causes orthostatic intolerance, standing upright and painting with my arm up high definitely causes fainting trouble. So its a massive task for me. But I agreed because I did not want to let her down.
Days of super intense insecurity, stress, frustration etc followed. Really deep fear. And I did not understand why it was so strong, and why I could not handle it in the way Eckhart shows. I started to work on the project excessively, being terrified of making something she would not like.
I became more ill again, because stress does that, but kept working excessively, and spending too much money on the best supplies I could imagine.
All to make sure she would be happy with the result, but I still felt internal panic and turmoil/fear about it.
She is a super nice person, very gentle and friendly. So that is not the problem.

I did not realize why, until today.
During my childhood, both my parents became alcoholics. My father had schizophrenia and my mother severe (very very severe/suicide severe) depression. They divorced, and I stayed with my mother. She was drinking so very much that she could not survive anymore without someone caring for her. (giving food, guiding her on the stairs, and opening the door for the police whenever they brought her home).
The entire family, abandoned us, because her situation made them depressed and angry.
I was a child and I loved my mother. I knew she would die, without the shadow of a doubt, if no one would be with her in that house. So I stayed with her.
This all happened between age 8 and 21. So a pretty long time.
So I was abandoned by the entire family, left on my own there with my mother. I was bonded very much to two specific aunts. One of them being the mother of the person that is pregnant now. I adored that aunt.

My nieces are awesome, we got in touch again at a later age, and between us all is ok.
Now that my niece is going to have a baby, the entire family is going to come together there in her house. Me included.
I am terrified.
When I wrote about it this morning, I realized that my excessive amount of spending money for my niece, and the excessive amount of work.. etc is all to 'make sure they will like me'.
All of them.

Its about 15 people.
In my painbody/thoughts, they all left me because I was not good enough. And I try to prove to them now, that I am.
I want them to like and love me.
My entire painbody and 1 million thoughts are working on that. :P

There is a lot of pain from the past, lots of feelings of not being enough, not being loved, and not belonging to my family. Feeling alone, anxious, scared, terrified, a pain inside that feels like a scream, but one that remained quiet.
It feels like everything I do, and more, is still not good enough to make any of them accept me.
I realize that there is a lot of work to be done. But I do not really know how to.

Sorry for the super long story.
But I wondered if you maybe knew, how I could start on this painbody monster.
What do you do when you spiral into a 'painbody storm' ( :) seems like a fitting way to put it).
My childhood was crazy, it started out with a super loving mother and father, and a super loving family. And then all got lost, and the crazy situation at home lasted for years and years. The painbody from that must be insane.

How do I work on it on such a way, that I truly dissolve those energies?
Because.. if I can do that, lots will change. Because this is a true heaviness that I carry with me.

-------
One other story I wanted to tell. But not so important.
Yesterday I was on the train, it was the busiest hour of the day so the train was packed. I could not sit down and my illness made me dizzy. I was stressy (because of the above) and frantic.
There was a man, that stood next to me, so close that his body touched me. The train was so full that there was no other way.
When that happened I felt an incredible calmness wash over me. It totally surprised me.
Internally and automatically I said to him 'you are so calming'.
I had not said it out loud, but right in that moment, he smiled at me.
That was pretty surprising.
Instinctively (well pain-body instinct) made me afraid, and he moved away. But when I considered it later, I know there was no reason to be afraid at all. Quite the opposite.
I was thinking that maybe this was a person like Eckhart a bit, aware and concious. Maybe that is why his energy was so different.
Last edited by Lianna on Sat Oct 21, 2017 10:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The tiniest moments of awareness

Postby rachMiel » Fri Oct 20, 2017 2:46 pm

Lianna, howdy. :-)

I just wanted to pass along something I heard from a Buddhist teacher:

For some, buncha "meditation quickies" spaced out during the day is more effective than 1-2 longer sitting sessions. For these quickies, sometimes a single breath is enough: Breathe in with awareness, breathe out with awareness. Other times a few breaths, a minute or two. If the awareness remains with the breath only, that's fine. But don't force it. If the awareness wants to expand to the entire body, or to fill the physical space you are currently in, or beyond to fill the felt space ... that's fine too.

By stopping the incessant chatter of your mind several times a day, you are teaching your mind to start feeling more and more comfortable in stillness/presence.

I've been in pretty much constant pain for a few months due to a herniated lumbar disc. So I have a clue of what you speak. It's not fun for the body to be uncomfortable so much. One thing I do that helps is to regard the sensation not as "pain" rather as pressure or energy. Not naming the sensation "pain" can really help you endure the worst moments.

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