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Switching attention from physical pain/discomfort

I could use some help with a couple of things...I've been doing SDA for around three weeks and am getting pretty good at focusing my attention. When a distraction pops up, I'm able to recognize it and start counting over again. However, when I'm not in a "formal" SDA situation (sitting quietly, using the alarm, etc.), I have a lot of trouble switching my attention from pain or discomfort in my body, especially if I'm in the middle of doing something and can't stop and turn to my breathing. In other words, it's not that hard to move my attention from my thoughts, but when they present themselves as physical symptoms they seem so much more aggressive. Any suggestions?

Here's another thing: I tried that exercise that John suggested where you alternate between your breathing and focusing on your pain/discomfort. It doesn't seem to work for me, maybe because I thought the whole point was to remove my attention from the pain, since focusing on it continues to feed it. Am I missing something here? Help, y'all!!

Pardon my shorthand from my BlackBerry JR - but just to remind you of the spiritual healing perspective of this type of issue, in a lot of modalities, and maybe someone more knowledgeable will chime in as to the differences and/or similarities of the SDA practice when dealing with this issue. In many forms of spiritual healing, the idea is that the pain is there to get your attention. A lot of methods have you actually'breathe into'k the pain and/or send love energy to the afflicted area. So, when I have physical discomfort doing the sda, I actually give it full attention - instead of my breathing - and it works the same for me. So I am using the discomfort as my 'focusing mechanism' instead of the breathing. But maybe this isn't right for the SDA? It's the impression I got from what I read. Hopefully someone w more experience will chime in. Best. Lex

Hey Lex, here's a bit from the email I sent you earlier on this topic:

When I was going through my "mind/body phase," I tried sending love to my body parts, and it did nothing for me. I guess some people can make that work if their belief is strong enough, but it really runs contrary to what I understand and feel is actually true. Sure the pain cries out for attention, but giving it attention doesn't make it go away"¦it feeds it. John has said that the whole point of SDA is to learn how to shift our attention to things that we really want, instead of just being sucked in by whatever calls out to us.

I think part of the hell which comes from physical pain and discomfort is the mind fighting against the situation. Giving the sensations of pain and discomfort straight attention can, in my experience relive part of it, because it shows me there really is nothing to be afraid of, it's just pain, or in other words I needn't escape it, so my stress about it fades. Not to be confused with directed attention practice though, in that I don't mean to do this to strengthen control over attention generally, just a way to familiarize with the sensations present.

It could be why some people who go through torturous deaths are singing and laughing the whole time. Or, like the Buddhist monks who self-immolate themselves and who are completely still and at peace. It's something that always fascinated me because, to me, this seems like total freedom from suffering. I really appreciate that story from John about when he had the very serious viral food poisoning and had no mental suffering attached with it.

Maybe check this one, JR


Hi roed, I'm a couple of decades past the menopause thing (I'm John's age), and actually, since I wrote this post I feel very sure that I don't want to practice the "looking at the pain" thing. smily I don't find it helpful at all for me...seems like it's working for you, but I'm finding the best approach for me is doing the SDA and also seeing me as I contemplate the fact that I'm not my body, not my thoughts, not my life. I also started doing qigong every day, which is so difficult for me, but is really helping. It's only been a few days, so that's why it's still so hard... I'm in pretty bad shape physically, but now I know I can do something about it. Thanks.


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