The Simple Secret To Pain Relief

“If we really want to address the whole issue of suffering, as well as our desire and yearning for freedom, love, and connection, then we need to learn how to look clearly at our own minds.” ~Adyashanti

Last week I wrote an e-mail to the subscribers at Live Bold and Bloom with the invitation to share with me their top five worries, fears, or disappointments in life. I requested this so that I could address some of these topics in my articles and future books and courses.

I received hundreds of responses, many of which revealed very painful situations and concerns. It became clear to me that all of us suffer with some degree of emotional pain and inner turmoil, whether or not we are generally satisfied with our lives. This turmoil keeps us from reaching our fullest potential and engaging fully in life.

Here are just a few of the worries and concerns that were expressed:

  • getting out of debt and financial worries
  • relationship conflicts and fear of  loneliness
  • feeling stuck in a rut and passionless
  • desiring a meaningful life of purpose but not knowing how to get it
  • lack of self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-trust
  • lack of focus, procrastination
  • fear of failure and success
  • fear of aging and death, fear that it's too late
  • boredom and feeling trapped in a job
  • not having mental clarity about life
  • not reaching goals and being disappointed
  • fear of getting sick, not being healthy
  • fear of the future, the unknown

One reader wrote this about relationships, but I think it applies to all of life's difficulties:

“I often find myself in difficult conflict situations — some little, some large, often unsure what to do. They always confuse me, these conflicts. I'm never sure what I feel, what I think, what is truth, and what I should do. Actually, I always just shut down or leave.”

Isn't that true of all of our inner conflicts? We are confused, we don't know the truth, we don't know what to do, so we shut down. We stay stuck or give up. We get sucked into a mental vortex of suffering fed by the powerful emotions that our conflicted thinking produces. It paralyzes us and keeps us trapped in a swirling cycle of worry, fear, and despair.

When you are caught in this mental vortex, you attempt to grasp for more control of your life as a means of escaping. But as with a riptide, the more you struggle to escape, the more fearful, exhausted, and trapped you become.

So what if you didn't struggle against yourself anymore? Instead of arguing with what is, consider embracing the reality of right now.

Try this little exercise: pretend that you have no memory of the past, nor are you able to forecast the future. In fact, you have been given assurance that the future is going to unfold in a positive way. So you have no regrets, no past hurts you harbor, and no fears for the future. You can just relax into this moment right now.

When you take away the past and the future, what is the reality of this moment right now? It may be good or bad, but instead of trying to change this moment or focus on what you should or shouldn't be doing, embrace what is. When you do this, you stop the mental conflict or the search for truth.

The Truth is the reality of right now. You have escaped the vortex for a moment, and it feels peaceful.

So what is the point of embracing what is happening right now if suffering might still be inevitable? Because being in opposition to what is creates its own kind of suffering through the resistance and struggle that is depleting and frustrating. And resisting the reality of “what is” cannot really change it.

So if we are not resisting, what happens when we embrace life exactly how it is, with the good, the bad, and the ugly?

In his book Falling into Grace, spiritual teacher Adyashanti suggests this:

We find ourselves able, in the moment of someone's actual pain or in the middle of our own suffering, to connect very intimately, very purely, without any resistance. This opens up a door within us for an entirely different response — a response that's not based in opposition. Instead, this intimacy and stillness guides us into a very precise and effective type of action, a kind of involvement born out of a deep inner connection with life and with others… . When we're not responding out of conflict, division, and resistance, what manifests is pure compassionate action, wise action that comes from intimacy, stillness, and true connection. (p.133)

When you become the evaluator of the moment, the “ego” who is judging the situation as good, bad, painful, unworthy, etc., you separate yourself from reality and distance yourself from the experience. You become a commentator of your life rather than a fully-engaged participant.

However, when you release the struggle and engage in the moment, you open the door for your creative mind to produce solutions and actions naturally.

If you are like me, reading this concept of embracing reality and releasing judgment is a lot easier than actually doing it. The mind wants to grasp all of the “what ifs” and “shoulds” and arguments for dwelling in the past or future.

When you find yourself getting sucked back into that mental vortex, try this line of inquiry to help you escape. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the reality of the situation in this moment — not what it should be or could be, but what it is?
  • Can I sit with the reality of this situation right now without judging it or struggling against it? Can I allow myself to fully experience whatever I am feeling, even if it's painful?
  • Is there anything I can do in this moment to change the situation, and if so, am I willing to it?
  • If I'm not willing to take action, can I just accept my unwillingness in this moment without judging it?

Another way to break the cycle of struggle and judgment is to have the willingness to question the conclusions you make about yourself or the situation you are in.

When you find yourself thinking, “This shouldn't be happening” or “I don't know what to do about this” or “I'm afraid I'll never make enough money,” question the truth about these statements.

Find evidence to the contrary. For example:

  • It should be happening because it is happening.
  • I do know what to do about this because I have shown good judgment and made wise decisions before.
  • I am making enough money because I have food to eat and a place to live right now.

Most of our negative thinking is either past or future focused. Use the reality of the present moment to shed a new light on the situation, and you will find that it diffuses the pain and confusion and clears the path for engaged living, peace, and growth.

In a few weeks, I will be releasing The Bold Living Guides: A Crash Course for a Better Life. There will be six guides on

  • Self Awareness and Personal Growth
  • Passion and Purpose
  • Positive Change and Simple Productivity
  • A Healthy Lifestyle for Mind, Body, and Spirit
  • Amazing Relationships
  • Professional and Financial Well-Being

They will be sold individually and as a set of six. Each guide has 15 chapters with practical actions and ideas for positive change in all areas of your life.

I will be offering a pre-launch special for my subscribers with lower pricing. If you would like to become a subscriber (no charge), please click here and receive my free guide 7 Key Ingredients for a Meaningful Life and two free videos.

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Comments

  1. Justin | Mazzastick says:

    Problems are a sign of life and growth which is why we are here. Every problem we solve and every obstacle we overcome there will be another one waiting.

    We don’t live long enough to solve all of our problems and challenges so find time for yourself to chill-out and relax everyday.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Justin,
      Yes, problems are just like buses — they keep coming one after another! That’s why we learn to focus on the reality of now. We can deal with reality much better than we can worries and fear.

  2. Hi Barrie
    So true.
    Kind of got the wind knocked out of me when I was laid off. But, it was the best thing that happened because I was miserable and frustrated in the place I was working at. I had lost myself and who I really was………the joy of life was void. I liked the extra pay but things always work out if you just go in the direction that feels right. Being deeper in debt than ever and not sure how this would all work out. If I sit down and think about it, if things never change I would probably have to live until I was 150 years old to pay everything off. But I found joy instead and with it I found something I could put my heart into. Will it all work out eventually…….don’t know for sure but I believe it will, as when it feels right, it gives the inspiration to carry on. Thank you for the post.
    Mary

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Mary,
      I think the most growth happens for us when we experience these big challenges. Events around us are really out of our control. But when you face it full on, instead of struggling against it, you find creative solutions. It looks like you have done just that!

  3. Peppy | The PeppyWrites Chronicles says:

    I appreciated the points in this article – particularly interesting was the exercise of forgetting our past and future, just focus on the moment. I have tried to avoid allowing myself to be “defined” by whatever pain is being dealt with in life.

    When I was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease I decided I did not want to be defined by the disease and, to do that, I had to keep my focus on each day – whereas my doctors want to focus on what is in my future. That is too bleak to keep my mind wrapped around each day and I felt it would only turn me into a bitter young woman because of what was happening.

    Now, I have to say, with my recent diagnosis of breast cancer and the subsequent mastectomy, my focus isn’t very easily manipulated because anger is part of the equation. I continue to focus on each day – savor the joys/blessings – though I do slip into yearning for “the way I use to be” and being afraid of what is in front of me.

    I do have to add that humor, too, is vital in coping with painful situations … it is true, “laughter is the best medicine.” I know I will be re-reading this article several more times and sharing it’s points. Mentioning my experience was meant, only, to underscore why your article “spoke to me” and how controlling my focus has been a great help in coping with it all.

    Peppy

    • sophia Fernandes says:

      dear Barren,
      i just reflected on ur insights on simple secrets for pain and relief.you are abosolutely true, living the present moment free us from getting trapped into a bondage….from two days i have been experiencing a heavy load on my chest, which makes me loose my inner peace and joy…i have been entrusted with a major responsibility, for which i feel that i am not fit. but the institution is trusting in my confidence. there is constant fear and lack of confidence to meet and contact people, give speeches. i am good at interpersonal relationship, but not as a public figure..this keep me worrying as my new job is quite a challenging one, which requires me to address, consult and organise meetings ….all this causes me stress thinking about the future, i have been given some time to reflect nd decide on this job. i am not able to make a proper decision.so please help me barren as this the pain i am going through, sometimes i feel i may be a failure and i do want that to happen to a prestigious institute. could you help me cope with this problem , please write to me personally and i look forward to some comfort and help me make a decision. i like your insights
      with regards sophia. i

      • Barrie Davenport says:

        Hi Sophia,
        I will be happy to contact you. Take a deep breathe. It will be OK. 🙂

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Peppy,
      I am so glad you did share your experience and think it is wonderful that you are blogging about it. You will encounter friends and support from all over the world. I send you love and light through the blogosphere. 🙂 I can only imagine how overpowering your situation must be at times, but you are so wise to continue to focus on staying present. I know it is hard from my own experience, but I believe it gets more natural with practice. Laughter is wonderful and so is having a loving spouse to share this with you. Thank you for commenting.

  4. sadasiba says:

    Very good article .

  5. sophia Fernandes says:

    dear Barrie,
    An amazing article, which is so comforting ,,infact just few minutes i shared with you my crisis and then all over again i started to read your article again and i found it so good. So now i am learning to practice to live the present moment just the way it, embrace it, let the future be …i am hoping you will still continue to help me with my problem. there was some error in the first part of my sharing, hope you receive this one, as i am not used to using website…..i count on your support barrie, as i find you have a way of making life more beautiful.

  6. This is so true that I teared up when I read it. We increase our own suffering by the stories we attach to whatever is happening. Just sitting with the feeling is so hard sometimes. I want to escape it, fix it, blame someone (else) for it. Your post is a reminder that sitting with it is exactly what I need to do right now. Thank you.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      I am so glad it spoke to you Galen. Isn’t it strange how posts come to us just when we need them. 🙂

  7. As you said, not worrying about the future or past is much easier said than done, but when you can do it, it is truly powerful. I have found that releasing judgements about what is happening is the best way for me to just be. I concentrate on what is happening right now and how I am feeling, instead of worrying about how I think I *should* be feeling.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      That’s wonderful Amy. Wouldn’t it be great to have a mental switch that would filter out the past and worry about the future? We could flip the switch whenever we needed to! I also find that when I’m deeply engaged in something I enjoy or that is challenging, I am totally engaged in the moment and don’t worry about the past or future.

  8. I love this post so much. It goes along perfectly with the message of my blog, Scriptherapy, for rewriting trauma. We all have the strength to hear, even when it seems like we can never get back up again. But pain and trauma don’t have to hold us down. Thank you for your inspiring words, Barrie. 🙂

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Rai,
      I need to look at your blog — it sounds fascinating. I really appreciate your kind comments. 🙂

  9. Hi Barrie,
    I’ve recently set up a blog that centers around addiction and 12-Step recovery. As you probably know, 12-Step recovery is a very spiritual program. And I can’t agree with you more on this topic of suffering and resistance. Your comments about ‘resisting reality’ and how this causes more suffering for us is bang on! I still resist what is, but I’m learning how to release – “let go and let God.”

    I love all your blog posts.
    Cheers, James

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi James,
      Yes, of course. Part of recovery is accepting “what is” and having the courage to change what you can change. That letting go process is is taught in so many pain-related situations. When I was giving birth to my kids, I was instructed not to resist the pain, just to try to breathe through it.

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