The pleasures of suffering and the search for Meaning”


From the “The Sweet Spot”: “The pleasures of suffering and the search for Meaning”


Negative experiences can focus one’s mind in a particularly rewarding way.

Psychologists who study benign masochism like to quote a dominatrix who said, “A whip is a great way to get someone to be here now.

They can’t look away from it, and they can’t think of anything else.”

Rumi, the thirteenth-century Sufi mystic, agreed, asking,

“Where is indifference when pain intervenes?”

(Elsewhere he wrote: “Seek pain! Seek pain, pain, the pain!”)

This has its appeal: pain can relieve anxiety by distracting you from your consciousness.

It gets you out of your head.

This is one regard in which sharp and sudden pain resembles what might seem to be its opposite—orgasm.

It’s sometimes even said that pain can temporarily obliterate the conscious self.
My two cents: I can attest that pain empties the mind of thought and brings you to a vivid, bright point of now.

Pain has been a constant companion, through childhood, a professional sports career then culminating in a triple rollover car accident which brought chronic pain.

Pain can be a focus object. I can meditate, take my breath and sit in the middle of my pain, bringing intense focus without judgment.

Use your pain for awareness, know its intensity, color, characteristics, and lastly, know the relationship you have with this pain.

Know that thoughts and emotions can intensify or weaken your pain.

Pain is read in two places in the brain, first the pain itself, second, a place that influences intensity or soothes it, a place where we color our pain.

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