Mindful pain

“To the extent that you actually realize that you are not, for example, your anxieties, then your anxieties no longer threaten you. Even if anxiety is present, it no longer overwhelms you because you are no longer exclusively tied to it. You are no longer courting it, fighting it, resisting it, or running from it. In the most radical fashion, anxiety is thoroughly accepted as it is and allowed to move as it will. You have nothing to lose, nothing to gain, by its presence or absence, for you are simply watching it pass by.

Thus, any emotion, sensation, thought, memory, or experience that disturbs you is simply one with which you have exclusively identified yourself, and the ultimate resolution of the disturbance is simply to dis-identify with it. You cleanly let all of them drop away by realizing that they are not you–since you can see them, they cannot be the true Seer and Subject. Since they are not your real self, there is no reason whatsoever for you to identify with them, hold on to them, or allow your self to be bound by them.

Slowly, gently, as you pursue this dis-identification “therapy,” you may find that your entire individual self (persona, ego, centaur), which heretofore you have fought to defend and protect, begins to go transparent and drop away. Not that it literally falls off and you find yourself floating, disembodied, through space. Rather, you begin to feel that what happens to your personal self—your wishes, hopes, desires, hurts—is not a matter of life-or-death seriousness, because there is within you a deeper and more basic self which is not touched by these peripheral fluctuations, these surface waves of grand commotion but feeble substance.

Thus, your personal mind-and-body may be in pain, or humiliation, or fear, but as long as you abide as the witness of these affairs, as if from on high, they no longer threaten you, and thus you are no longer moved to manipulate them, wrestle with them, or subdue them. Because you are willing to witness them, to look at them impartially, you are able to transcend them. As St. Thomas put it, “Whatever knows certain things cannot have any of them in its own nature.” Thus, if the eye were colored red, it wouldn’t be able to perceive red objects. It can see red because it is clear, or “redless.” Likewise, if we can but watch or witness our distresses, we prove ourselves thereby to be “distress-less,” free of the witnessed turmoil. That within which feels pain is itself pain-less; that which feels fear is fear-less; that which perceives tension is tensionless. To witness these states is to transcend them. They no longer seize you from behind because you look at them up front.”
— Ken Wilber (No Boundary: Eastern and Western Approaches to Personal Growth)

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