A few weeks ago, I burned my hand and fingers pretty good. While it didn’t feel pleasurable to be burned, what I noticed is dropping into the pain and feeling it fully without resisting it was quite a different experience than complaining about it and wishing I wasn’t burned.
As I sat on the couch with my burned hand and finger, the question came to me of, what does the pain feel like when there isn’t mind activity trying to resist it? For example, thinking the burn hurts too much or thinking I shouldn’t be feeling this pain right now. Basically, arguing with reality, which is that I had a burned hand and finger and there was physical pain because of it.
It’s almost as if the mind believes if it resists it hard enough, then it’ll go away. If I really really really think I shouldn’t be burned, then I won’t. Huh? Sounds ridiculous, right? Of course the pain of the burn was still there, only now there’s pain in the form of resistance on top of it.
You know what I found when I felt the pain of the burn head-on and allowed it to be there? It didn’t kill me! Yeah, it hurt, but it was a different kind of pain when it wasn’t mixed with resistance. It felt intense as if the resistance had formed a kind of barrier to the actual pain.
What is resistance, anyway? I like to think of a person holding out their hands and arms as if to keep the thing away. It requires effort to resist something. It’s refusing to accept something, to push it away. Byron Katie calls it arguing with reality (and you lose 100% of the time).
What if we just let it be there? What would that be like?