01. Accept Truth / Let yourself feel pain
Let yourself have thoughts, emotions or physical sensations you might have. Don’t resist or avert them. They are there for a reason. I’ve discovered a technique that uses this idea for understanding and releasing mental and physical tension.
This idea is simply about accepting Truth that in this case is the truth of direct experience. I’m not talking about objective Truth of the outside world here, I am talking about subjective personal experience. You can know what you yourself experience and that experience is True, nobody can tell you person what you did or did not experience.
For whatever reason we often don’t let ourselves think, feel or express naturally. We learn from parents, teachers, society and ultimately ourselves that we should act, think and feel a certain way. We learn to act within a normal, an average of others around us. Especially for men we are taught that expressing certain emotions is not masculine. When I’ve been deeply depressed in the past and I’ve been told that I shouldn’t feel bad because others have it worse than me.
Telling someone they can’t be sad because others are worse off is like telling someone they can’t be happy because others are better off.
We trap ourselves in cages made out of should’s and shouldn’ts. When some people feel depressed they can think that they shouldn’t be feeling that way and don’t allow themselves to process it, instead it is resisted and pushed back inside.
Personally I grew up in a family and culture that views discomfort as being almost equal to pain and that it is to to be avoided. It’s a tiny bit cold? Put the heaters onto full heat so it’s toasty warm. Feeling something negative? Distract yourself with TV or anything else to take focus away from the Truth. I developed a habbit of avoiding discomfort in doing so I avoided life. Addiction is a coping mechanism born out of not being able to deal with pain and discomfort. Sometimes a bit of discomfort is exactly what we need to stretch and grow. Muscle tension release can be pretty uncomfortable but after you discover you are free to move in ways you didn’t know you were restricted in. I believe the same principle applies to the mind and the freedom gained is surprising.
I’ve discovered through experimentation that the body and mind seem to know instinctively what to do in response to tension and pain. I think due to beliefs on how we should behave and feel we a preventing ourselves from naturally reacting to physical and emotional sensations.
I’ve learnt that emotions have a direct and long term impact on the body. For me personally I’ve stored stress and anxiety as muscle tension in my chest and shoulders. The weight on my shoulders as they say. If you think about it where are emotions felt? They are felt in your body, they are made out of you!
Be conscious of physical pain, tension and sensations. We feel them for a reason. It seems like being conscious of these feelings is an important part of how our bodies process information.
I’ve discovered a technique
The technique is to face your experience without resisting it. Similar to mindfulness meditation practice but intentionally inducing and increasing the feeling and let your body and mind react how it does. I’ve found deep slow breathing comes naturally and helps the process.
Example: Let’s say we have a tight muscle in our back but we are not too aware of it because it is minor. If awareness is given to the tension then the body and start to deal with it. If you increase that tension by stretching or applying pressure then the signal is turned up and it is easier to be aware of. Deep slow breathing helps to relax and increases oxygen in the blood flow to the muscle. After doing this tension release you will often be surprised at how much better you feel and how much more movement you have. Sometimes it’s not until the tension is gone that you realise how much it was in fact there and affecting you.
This also works with thoughts and emotions if you can apply pressure by causing yourself to feel it more. Just by focusing on a thought or emotion it can get more vivid, give it awareness without avavoiding it. It is important to allow yourself to feel and define what the emotion is which requires relaxation. Otherwise it is like trying to solve a maths equation without spending enough time analysing the problem.
The body and mind intuitively moves to try to resolve whether it be internal or external but the key is to let this happen naturally not resisting or grasping for an escape. Deep slow breathing seems to help intensify the feelings. It seems the body and mind has a natural creativity that arises when needed, very much like a physical reflex you would have if you put your hand on a hot stove. When I do this it’s like my body knows what to do and I go along with it. You might feel and think some strange things, I know I have. Just allow yourself to react how your body/mind reacts. There can be a struggle in regards to letting yourself go based on what is normal or what you are used to experiencing. I’ve had some interesting experiences of having thoughts I can’t explain with language and I’ve had emotions I’ve never known possible while doing this, maybe they are the ones I hadn’t let myself feel because they we’re too strange. I’ve had my body wanting to stretch out when dealing with sadness and I’ve wanted hit things while dealing with anger.
You approach it from two sides of it. You become sensitive to the signal on the awareness side and you turn up the volume of the signal from the tension side. You are both sides of it, you are causing an experience in your own body/mind. By treating the pain as information you can often trace it to it’s source which often sheds light on it leading to understanding is and it’s release. Just like the muscle tension release after doing this with emotion I’ve found myself with mental space and clarity I didn’t know I had. Just like with deep relaxation you don’t notice how unrelaxed you were because you just got used to feeling that way. The whole issue here is that looking at this tension is uncomfortable or painful and the solution lies in being aware of that pain and letting go.
Pain leads to action. Pain indicates that something is wrong and creates the desire to correct that wrong.
In life we often put up with it until the pain becomes too unbearable and we have to do something about it.
Example: You have tooth pain that comes and goes. Many people won’t go to the dentist, they wait until the pain becomes too much to deal with. Doing this causes more pain for a longer amount of time and ends up costing more money to fix. I am guilty of doing this to myself, I’ve learnt my lesson. If you pay attention to pain and use intelligence you naturally find a way to deal with it effectively and discover ways to prevent it.
If we become more sensitive and listen to pain along with other emotions I believe we can hear what they are trying to tell us, we then can respond naturally and calmly. It seems like emotions and physical sensations are messengers and when we don’t listen they get louder or find other ways to get our attention. When we do give them attention and hear them out then they often quiet down. Pain does have a purpose just like any other emotion and we would be better off if we stopped running from them and used them as a valuable part of being human.