Living with Pain

For many people physical pain is ever present in their lives, it is something they feel they could well live without. However there are those who have learnt not only how to live with pain but find it has helped them to deepen their practice. Recently a book, Turning Suffering Inside Out A Zen approach to living with physical and emotional pain, came into my hands. It’s written by a woman who knows what she is talking about, she is also a teacher of Buddhism connected to the San Francisco Zen Center. Here between the covers can be found practical advice and accessible Buddhist teaching for all. I’ve made a note to read it all the way through. In the mean time here is a taste.

Darlene became bedridden with rheumatoid arthritis gradually needing more and more help with basic daily life activities such as cleaning, doing laundry and washing her hair.

“At first, my conscious life was all pain. Acknowledging the pain and its power eventually allowed me to explore my body fully and find there actually were experiences in my body beside the pain–here is pain, here is bending, here is breath, here is movement, here is sun warming, here is unbearable fire, here is tightness–something different where ever I looked….I kept telling myself this must be the world of babies and animals. Everything is fresh and fascinating.”

Darlene Cohen writes about pain in a recent edition of the magazine Buddhadharma, as does Bhikkhu Bodhi and others.

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2 thoughts on “Living with Pain”

  1. a very good book. my wife has experienced chronic hip and joint pain and found this book very helpful.

    i have just been re-reading the section on mindful movements, because although the yoga exercises used by jon kabat-zinn in his excellent “full catastrophe living” are chosen to be accessible to most people. However, some with more chronic conditions may struggle even with these. Darlene’s exercises are even gentler and her guidance is thorough.

  2. Thankyou for these references. I will follow them up, although I am fortunate not to be suffering so acutely these days. Another difficulty with pain is the attitude of others, both sympathetic & not. Being more comfortable with one’s own attitude really helps.

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