Zen & Pain

In Zen meditation (and perhaps other forms) one of the concepts is being present, and in the present, focusing on what is occurring right now. (Sort of redundant I know)

Two friends have had serious accidents recently. Pondering my own past misfortunes, I find that I cannot well remember the time after a bad accident, though I know that at the time I was present in a way that I’ve never achieved through meditation. Perhaps it speaks to my rather rudimentary attempts at meditation. It interests me that pain, or to broaden the notion considerably, non-normalcy (illness also comes to mind) is far better at keeping me ‘present’ than anything else I’ve tried. This makes a certain rough sense if there is some protective necessity in being vigilant at those times.

You can find articles on meditation and pain management but I am more curious about pain as being an access point for the meditative state. In some things I’ve read about classes/retreats you can participate in, the setting sounds deliberately painful. Hard floors in positions that are meant to be held for periods of time while attempting to achieve the desired state. This at least suggests to me that rather than something to be ignored/overcome/examined and set aside, more fundamentally pain is an entry point. Whether you can go any further is beside the point as you have at least gotten in to the doorway of being in the right now.

Perhaps this is incredibly obvious but it hadn’t occurred to me previously.

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