I want vitality

I’ve changed the title from wanting to be free of pain, because it’s much more effective to focus on the wanted than the unwanted.

When pain or other unwanted physical symptoms arise they tend to grab our attention.

But that’s largely because we haven’t practiced directing and focusing our thoughts and attention.

My pain used to arise whenever I was stressed. But I’m much better at letting go of stress now.

So now I’m noticing pain arise differently: it arises after I’ve been feeling really good.

A faster stream

Abraham-Hicks uses the metaphor of a stream to make the point that when we feel good our stream is flowing faster. While feeling good is obviously what we desire, a faster flowing stream means that resistance is amplified.

A great example is when you work on improving your posture and find you can no longer bear slumped or slouching positons that used to feel normal.

Or when you take up exercise and find you can no longer bear sitting in front of the TV like you once did.

After feeling good?

Notice I said the pain now starts after I’ve been feeling good, and that means I’ve stopped focusing on thoughts that feel good, I’ve let my mind wander, and some old resistance has cropped up.

The best bet would be to not lose focus in the first place but that’s okay. It’s all part of the journey.

Instead we can take the opportunity to clean up our thoughts and attitude around whatever subject has triggered the resistance, or around the subject of our physical body itself.

A body that feels good

If you are prone to physical aches and pains like I have been, it means we’ve been telling an old story about our bodies that isn’t up to speed with the fullness of health and happiness.

I used to have many negative thoughts about my body, and I’m excited now about applying all that I’ve learned to my physical well-being.

The way forward is to start appreciating every aspect of your body that works well and feels good.

If your back hurts, I’ll bet nearly every other bit of you feels good in comparison. Appreciate the hell out of every inch of you that works well and feels good.

Appreciate instead of noticing or focusing on unwanted symptoms.

If you devoted as much time to appreciating what works, what feels good, as you have to what hurts…imagine the transformation to your quality of life and happiness!

We create pain…and appreciation

The truth is I used to ignore the parts of me that don’t hurt. So my physical self-image is of a body I only really noticed when it went wrong.

I’ve been training myself to look for unwanted aspects of my physical embodiment. And so all I have in my memory is selective evidence of a body that is always going wrong!

What I want now is a total inversion on that score: set an intention to feel physically good all the time, appreciate my wellness, and let aches and pains become the most minor exceptions to this new rule.

Happiness Day 24

How much do you invest in your problems?

When your body doesn’t feel good, what do you pay more attention to: the 1% that hurts or the 99% that feels fine?

I used to let a mouth ulcer rule my world.

A sore throat was the end of life as we knew it.

Its actually funny right now how many physical symptoms are cycling around my body.

My throat started to hurt but I basically ignored it (I’ve come so far!) and resisted the urge to keep triggering the soreness.

It went away! But other symptoms have arisen. I won’t give a litany, but let’s just say pain has moved from my abdomen to my mouth to my eye to my knee to my back, sometimes a few of them at once.

I’m not worried. While it does show I have some resistance, the answer to resistance is never to fight it.

The Yi Jing has a beautiful passage on this:

“If evil is branded, it thinks of weapons, and if we do it the favor of fighting against it blow for blow, we lose in the end because thus we ourselves get entangled in hatred and passion.

Therefore it is important to begin at home, to be on guard in our own persons against the faults we have branded. In this way, finding no opponent, the sharp edges of the weapons of evil becomes dulled.

For the same reasons we should not combat our own faults directly. As long as we wrestle with them, they continue victorious. Finally, the best way to fight evil is to make energetic progress in the good.”

So by taking these pains lightly I’m already soothing the resistance that causes them. In fact I think I’m learning from the pain in a way, because it gives me a direct feedback on how relaxed and soothed I’m feeling in the moment.

This is a big step forward from my previous efforts to overcome my autoimmune pain, which were, in hindsight, as intense and focused as the pain itself.

It turns out I can soothe the pain just by relaxing and feeling good. I don’t have to dig to the bottom of it (there isn’t one) and I don’t have to track down the specific resistance and neutralise it.

Besides, according to Abraham-Hicks it takes far less resistance to keep symptoms going once they have started. Because once they start they tend to grab our attention and become self-perpetuating.

As for me, I remain amused by these sneaky pains moving around my body and trying to be taken seriously. Meanwhile, I can more easily set them aside while I ask “what is the good in which I would make progress?”

The benefits of getting sick

I used to hate and dread getting sick. At the first sign of a cold I’d panic and try everything I could think of to fight and resist it.

According to Esther Hicks, being sick is better described as pinching oneself off from well-being. The solution is not to overcome a sickness but to allow well-being to flow.

So this past week when I woke up with a faintly sore throat I did my best to adopt this point of view. I stopped looking at my coughing, congested wife with apprehension and dread in case I catch her sickness. She wasn’t afflicted by an external malady, merely resisting the wellness already available to her.

Likewise, I wasn’t under the threat of contracting some external contagion; my mild symptoms weren’t the beginning of something more severe. They were simply the earliest manifestations of pinching off well-being in myself.

Instead of a week spent fighting against the onslaught of a virus, I took my discomfort as a reminder to allow well-being. It worked.

The first thing I noticed was that allowing well-being broadened my focus. Instead of a narrow focus on fighting the specific discomfort, allowing showed me tension and resistance I was unaware of.

All the times I’ve noticed the onset of symptoms but been unable to counteract them… I’ve even felt the physical tension that precedes a cold, lending support to the idea that a cold is just an acute bout of resistance. But by the time the symptoms emerge it’s extremely difficult to ignore them. I tended to focus on the symptoms, fearing their increase.

This time my symptoms did not progress, and yesterday I realised that I’d been free of symptoms for a few days. I was so focused on allowing well-being that I wasn’t even keeping track of them.

Practising well-being for everything

It’s not just about physical manifestations of resistance. The same rationale applies to everything in life.

Any unwanted circumstance is like the first sign of a runny nose: it means I am pinching off the well-being and ease available to me.

The solution is not to fight to overcome the perceived negatives in our experience, but to allow the well-being to flow more broadly and more deeply.

External circumstances are just a reflection or manifestation of how much we are allowing well-being in the first place. Try to fix them and we’ll end up focusing only on resistance and missing the parts of us that need to let go and expand.

Ironically, once my symptoms disappeared I stopped focusing so much on allowing well-being, and my overall happiness began to decline as other, more subtle forms of resistance crept back in.

But any negative feeling should be treated the same way. It’s not an indication that things “out there” are bad and about to get worse if we don’t do something; it’s a sign that we’re inwardly resisting well-being, happiness, ease, excitement, joy, and love that are already in us.