Writer - Author - Poet
Writer - Author - Poet

Transcending Pain

My blogs end with the caption “Enjoy the passage of time.” For most of us, enjoying the passage of time is usually easier when things are pleasant. Appreciating a sunrise after a good night’s sleep. Feeling safe and secure. Delighting in going out for dinner with friends. Grateful for the kindness someone showed us. A heightened thankfulness for nature on a beautiful summer day.

It is harder to enjoy the passage of time when things do not go well or are unpleasant. Typically, I prefer pleasant times over the more difficult ones, even wishing time would speed up. When will this be over? I can’t stand this.

In Buddhism, pain is considered to be a natural part of life that should be experienced calmly without becoming emotionally distressed. It is also thought to be a great teacher for reaching higher states of consciousness—transcending pain for the benefit of all beings.

A Buddhist teacher once shared that he refused drugs to keep from feeling pain during any medical procedure. He continued by describing a recent dentist visit. “No, I do not want any Procaine. I want to be aware of every sensation in my body,” he told his dentist. The dentist was shocked and even more astounded when he extracted the monk’s tooth without drugs of any kind. He declared that the monk had remained composed and tranquil throughout the procedure.

At first, I did not believe him. Yeah, right. But his senior students confirmed that it was indeed true. So, I decided to give it a go. On my next visit to the dentist, when I needed a filling, I asked if I could not have the numbing agent on my gums before the local anesthesia needle. Just a pre-school experiment in transcending pain. But after about a half second…

OUCH! I raised my hand to signal for the dentist to stop. “Uh. I need that numbing gel after all.” What was I thinking?

Recently I had some dental work done. None of it pleasant. I wanted to be number than numb. When the sensation returned, I was still wishing for a bit of that numbness. I might just be a wimp, but those nerves and connective tissues surrounding the teeth I had worked on have been my primary focus this week. My neurological system complaining. A lot.

I have thought about that teacher quite a bit and how to enjoy the passage of time when things are more than just unpleasant. I have found that simply being aware of my breath has helped. Breathe in for six counts, hold for two, breathe out for six, hold for two. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Breathe in for four, hold for four, breathe out for four, hold for four. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Trying to enjoy the passage of time, one breath at a time, but not for a second thinking I can forgo pain medication when I go back to the dentist next week.

Enjoy the passage of time.

Sharon

© 2024. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved.

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