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In Stillness and Community

Pain, the Price of Freedom

--by Michael Singer (Sep 06, 2010)


Wise beings do not want to remain a slave to the fear of pain. They permit the world to be what it is instead of being afraid of it. They wholeheartedly participate in life, but not for the purpose of using life to avoid themselves. If life does something that causes a disturbance inside of you, instead of pulling away, let it pass through you like the wind. After all, things happen every day that causes a disturbance inside of you. At any moment you can feel frustration, anger, fear, jealousy, insecurity or embarrassment. If you watch you will see the heart is trying to push it all away. If you want to be free you have to learn to stop fighting all these human feelings.

When you feel pain, simply view it as energy. Just start seeing these inner experiences as energy passing through your heart and before the eye of your consciousness. Then relax. Do the opposite of contracting and closing. Relax and release. Relax your heart until you are actually face-to-face with the exact place where it hurts. Stay open and receptive so you can be present right where the tension is. You must be willing to be present right at the place of the tightness and pain, and then relax and go even deeper. This is very deep growth and transformation. But you will not want to do this. You will feel tremendous resistance to doing this, and that’s what makes it so powerful. As you relax and feel the resistance, the heart will want to pull away, to close, to protect, and to defend itself. Keep relaxing. Relax your shoulders and relax your heart. Let go and leave room for the pain to pass through you. It’s just energy. Just see it as energy and let it go.

If you close around the pain and stop it from passing through, it will stay in you. That is why our natural tendency to resist is so counterproductive. If you don’t want the pain, why do you close around it and keep it. Do you actually think that if you resist, it will go away? It’s not true. If you release and let the energy pass through. Then it will go away. If you relax when the pain comes up inside your heart, and actually dare to face it, it will pass. Every single time you relax and release, a piece of the pain leaves forever. Yet every time you resist and close, you are building up the pain inside. It’s like damming up a stream. You are then forced to use the psyche to create a layer of distance between you who experiences the pain and the pain itself. That is what all the noise is inside your mind: an attempt to avoid the stored pain.

-- Michael Singer, from 'The Untethered Soul'


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On Dec 18, 2016 Joey wrote:

 I googled 'pain is the price of freedom' which is a chapter in Michael Singer's book, I'm not sure if this is a excerpt but it sounds about right. This advice has really changed my life. Revolutionary. But it's sitting with me because I realize how profound it is - and how I will have to change drastically in order to live it out



On May 18, 2014 Justin McMillan wrote:

 If i see an injustice it causes pain, sometimes very much pain. Am i just to accept it?, walk away from it and pretend that it does not affect me, let it pass through my heart like the wind? I will stop the pain, but is it right?



1 reply: Claude | Post Your Reply
On Oct 14, 2010 Lio Beardsley wrote:

Thx for sharing with us this wonderful writing.

Personal pain can be cured I believe, but we can't end the pain of others...

Maybe I have a tight bonding between myself and animals, I guess my major grief in life so far is the unfairness and suffering of them... when I was small and walked thru market, I rolled down tears and so hateful, till now everyday I think no matter how happy I can be, I can not cease the pain of their suffering, every sec they are being tortured. My true happiness would be seeing all of them free from harm (esp. human beings!)

I jsut don't know how to cease this pain when seeing others' suffering, it is so painful to see they feel pain, I don't know if I can see" these inner experiences as energy passing through your heart and before the eye of your consciousness"...



On Oct 14, 2010 sunday fidelia wrote:

You are so wonderful coz i hav gotten what i really wanted.am 18 ilove writing moltivational tips but idont know how be recovered



On Sep 15, 2010 Pancho wrote:

My family calls me Pancho and I'd like you to know that I love you all. On Wednesdays to be at the Kindness Temple is a way to re-member how intimately interconnected we are. There are Wednesdays when the field of love is so generous that we, the human particles in it, only surrender to its gentle force. All of the sudden, diversity is honored and unity at the heart is embraced. We align ourselves with the soul-force and we let the Universe of Love work through us. This is what it flowed through me: 1. Imagine: The New Paradigm 2. The Opposite of Pain 3. Fight or Flight and the Third Choice 1. Imagine: The New Paradigm According to the old paradigm of life, we are a collection of separated objects, life is seen as separated entities where we can focus our attention and dissect a part of the whole without taking into account the visible and (most of the times) invisible connections. One cannot see a relationship, one only sees the eff  See full.

My family calls me Pancho and I'd like you to know that I love you all.

On Wednesdays to be at the Kindness Temple is a way to re-member how intimately interconnected we are. There are Wednesdays when the field of love is so generous that we, the human particles in it, only surrender to its gentle force. All of the sudden, diversity is honored and unity at the heart is embraced. We align ourselves with the soul-force and we let the Universe of Love work through us. This is what it flowed through me:

1. Imagine: The New Paradigm
2. The Opposite of Pain
3. Fight or Flight and the Third Choice

1. Imagine: The New Paradigm
According to the old paradigm of life, we are a collection of separated objects, life is seen as separated entities where we can focus our attention and dissect a part of the whole without taking into account the visible and (most of the times) invisible connections. One cannot see a relationship, one only sees the effects, the "what". In this old paradigm knowledge comes from analyzing a static Nature. It is a "stuff-based" view of reality. There is no wisdom since reality is not experienced as it is. Power is a thing to be exerted on others (power over) something you can have and measure, it is a top-down notion of power. To be vulnerable is to be seen as weak. That's why to be "invulnerable" means to shatter enemies so that it doesn't happen to me and I create defenses and walls and borders to isolate me from the "danger". A dramatic image for this paradigm could be imagined as a single neuron who tries to build higher and stronger walls to stop communication with the "dangerous" surroundings. In this ill-conceived notion of reality, it is a matter of time for the neuron to get atrophied of isolation to finally die in a premature way.
 
The New Renaissance of Humanity is about a new paradigm where the entire Universe is a communion of subjects. It is a science of relationships in all senses and all dimensions. Life is seen as a flow. Organisms are alive and with visible porous boundaries but determined by what flows in them: matter, energy, information, love. This paradigm is process oriented, we are constantly asking not the "what" but the "how". In this philosophy of life knowledge is dynamic like the flame that keeps its shape by constantly burning, it always changes. When we experience this dynamic knowledge, it turns into wisdom and then reality cannot be confined only by the material world. Power is shared in an inclusive and horizontal way. The real power resides in the way an organism serves the community. It is a bottom-up notion of power. I feel interconnected with the whole. I feel identified with every being of the Universe by recognizing our common origin. Instead of looking for perfection, life looks for wholeness. To be vulnerable with courage is my best security because I see my security as the security of all. If we pay close attention to this approach, we will notice that all life is ONE. There are no enemies. The image of a neuron in this new paradigm looks interconnected and functional. While the neuron has clear boundaries of its existence, there is a flow through. When a healthy neuron dies, being loved by the community, its legacy is carried through the plasticity of other connections in the brain.
 
Our brain, the most complex system in the known Universe so far, uses the power of imagination to understand how mater, energy, information and love flow through molecules, society, mind, family and communities.

2. Letting go the Opposite of Pain.
One of the most valuable revelations I had during my first 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat was that craving to joy is a recipe for misery. Because when joy was not around, I was suffering waiting for it. When one meditates and sits 10 hours a day, all kind of pains (physical and emotional) come to the surface. But also all kinds of joy. If life is an open porous system where matter, energy, information and love flows, does it make sense to crave and get attached to joy? Paradoxically, when we let go of pain and joy, this flux of sensations coming and going, is the Universal Love flowing through us. That's why, from my point of view, love has no opposite since it is a continuous whole.
 
Pain, anger and hate are emotions who have forgotten how to breathe. True joy and happiness both lie in the natural flow of life: love.
 
3. Fight or Flight and the Third Choice.
The biggest challenge I have faced is when lack of harmony visits the being. Internal or external violence creates a fight or flight reflex, an old conditioned response linked to our evolutionary presence on this Planet. However, our consciousness has evolved in such a way that we have found a third choice: a combination of fearlessness AND nonviolence. Think of the evolved consciousness as an interface that filters violence and converts it into harmony. Once we purposely access this consciousness (as when we collectively meditate on Wednesday), our being cannot forget the roots of its origin, our real home. Then like the waters of an ancient river, the Universal Love flows through us. Every Wednesday, for almost ~13 years, this house has witnessed this flow in the circles. How lucky we are to be immersed in this flow of generosity, inspiration, information, energy (food!), creativity, kindness and smiles! :-) How lucky we are to be part of this flow of love! 
 
May we successfully filter the pains of the Earth Community.
 
May we live in harmony with the flow of life.
 
May all become compassionate, courageous and wise.
Pancho

 

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On Sep 14, 2010 Parth Savla wrote:

What I find so interesting in the practice of being still is the implication that so called "negative" emotions are to be "shed" while those of goodness are to be multiplied.  Why so?  Why multiply anything?  If we are not defined by our emotions (and are the dynamic organic container which holds them), can we not use them as catalysts to our own growth?  Can they not server as pathways that provide access to an unknown depth that lies within us?  We have tools for coping with happiness-we share the kernels that bring us joy and articulate why they do so, can we then not use the same tool of "sharing" anger and frustration articulated in a responsible ways?  (Sharing, not multiplying)  Singer says it poignantly when he writes, "Relax your heart until you are actually face-to-face with the exact place where it hurts. Stay open and receptive so you can be present right where the tension is."  It can be  See full.

What I find so interesting in the practice of being still is the implication that so called "negative" emotions are to be "shed" while those of goodness are to be multiplied.  Why so?  Why multiply anything?  If we are not defined by our emotions (and are the dynamic organic container which holds them), can we not use them as catalysts to our own growth?  Can they not server as pathways that provide access to an unknown depth that lies within us?  We have tools for coping with happiness-we share the kernels that bring us joy and articulate why they do so, can we then not use the same tool of "sharing" anger and frustration articulated in a responsible ways?  (Sharing, not multiplying) 

Singer says it poignantly when he writes, "Relax your heart until you are actually face-to-face with the exact place where it hurts. Stay open and receptive so you can be present right where the tension is."  It can be viewed that some of the roots of depression and loneliness is not the absence of happiness, but rather the denial that the depression & loneliness are even there let alone their intensity.  Helping others and making a difference are certainly uplifting when standing on their own, but can easily be escapes to not wanting to (or knowing how to) work through experiences of fear, loneliness, anger, and even rage.  Do we have tools to express them.  

Is it possible to compassionately hold the anger?  To let the experience of frustration and rage arise and pass with mindfulness, becoming both the experiencer (fully allowing what arises to arise - so as not to become numb) to it, as well as, the observer inquiring into the attachments that cause the anger or rage (so as to learn from it)?  

I would assert yes.

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On Sep 12, 2010 Nikanj wrote:

This is it. You can't remove pain by resisting it. Great article. Thanks for keeping us inspired through such knowledge.



On Sep 9, 2010 Prakash wrote:

 Namaste to all of you -- Beautiful essay and lovely circle as always. My experiences and experiments with pain can be summarized in the following expression: Pain = Language of Life. I shared that I like pain, because pain seems to be an evidence that I am alive. During the practice of Yoga, we often share with the participants to "let go and relax" especially in final deep relaxation in Shavasana, and measuring by the sign of those beautiful smiles, I know it works.   A short personal story - few years ago a bunch of my friends and I were on an adventurous trip to hike Yosemite Half dome (17+ miles, 8000+ elevation). It's one of the tough hikes I have done so far. The last few hundred yards of the hike is very steep, it has be done with the help of hanging steel cable. I could hike up all the way to the foot of the half dome and started ascending the dome via the steel cable. There were so many people lining up for their spot to go up the cable. I stood their  See full.

 Namaste to all of you --

Beautiful essay and lovely circle as always. My experiences and experiments with pain can be summarized in the following expression:

Pain = Language of Life.

I shared that I like pain, because pain seems to be an evidence that I am alive. During the practice of Yoga, we often share with the participants to "let go and relax" especially in final deep relaxation in Shavasana, and measuring by the sign of those beautiful smiles, I know it works.

 

A short personal story - few years ago a bunch of my friends and I were on an adventurous trip to hike Yosemite Half dome (17+ miles, 8000+ elevation). It's one of the tough hikes I have done so far. The last few hundred yards of the hike is very steep, it has be done with the help of hanging steel cable. I could hike up all the way to the foot of the half dome and started ascending the dome via the steel cable. There were so many people lining up for their spot to go up the cable. I stood their patiently waiting for my turn. The sun was getting really hot,  we were quickly running low on our water reserves and strength in our legs. The prospect of reaching to the top in just few hundred yards really helped to refill my energy and enthusiasm which otherwise was pretty much drained through the sweat and millions of steps. I did mange to reach almost to the top holding the cables as tightly as my tired hands could. We were damn scared with the signs and warnings around that read "fall to death" zone. Right then, there was this sudden "thud thud thud" sound followed by an absolutely silence with only the gradually diminishing echoing of the "thud thud" sound. I was frozen. When my eyes looked frantically towards the source of sound, I felt the great relief when I figured out that the sound was in fact from a big water bottle that got accidentally dropped from someone's backpack. It's quite a nerve wrecking experience at the beginning as there were some incidents of hikers fatally slipping from the steep area of the hike especially during stormy days. Everyone were so deeply relieved that we were not witnessing one of those tragic incidents in front of our own eyes. 

I might be about 80% up through the cable, I tried to step forward to the next big rock, that's it, my both legs gave up, frozen with excruciating pain shooting up from toes to the hip, perhaps due to deep dehydration and running low on minerals due to profuse sweating. Both legs lost control at the exact same time, with absolutely no sensation and ability to even standup and rest a bit. I am there hanging on the cable only with the tired hands with the legs hanging in air, wow! -- what a way to strength test those poor hands. A thought flashed - what do I do now? trust the universe for help? -- it's matter of few minutes before my hands are going to give up as well, I am in deepest pain I ever experienced, I can barely speak and ask for help, everyone seems to be too occupied with their own physical agony to deal with, will anyone really be able to help at this steep elevation as they may risk their own safety. I was soon running really really low on my survival chances, my legs are senseless and hands are shaking, right then I decided to release one hand and stay up with just one hand, that allowed me to reach closer to the rock and slide the frozen legs so I can lie down and rest the legs a little bit more, I started to feel some support against one of the leg, I couldn't see what it is and if it can hold me from falling off the steep cliff I release the cable from the other hand as well. Again I trusted my leg and the rock underneath, I released the hand just in time before it gave up itself, oh ouch!, it hurts, what do I do now, I can't yell for my friends, who knows they might be fighting their own battle may be even worse than the one I am in. I open my eyes and see a pair of hands offering something and instructing to take it telling me how I can heal the leg cramps with that offering. I only remember putting those powder into my mouth and drinking few sips of water, something start to change in few minutes, I started to notice someone giving a muscle relaxing massgae to my legs, and the legs are starting to feel the life and not just the pain. It turns out, the person who helped was was one of the hikers behind me, she had some extra salt/sugar packs that she carried for her own hike. I couldn't thank her enough and told her jokingly that "if you were to have cramps on half dome, make sure you have someone with extra salt/sugar following you", we both had a hearty laughter. I would like to offer this writing as my gratitude to her, don't know where she came from and where she's gone, never seen her later. I did go to the top and the nature at the top completely wiped out all the pain of the journey. It was an extra special hike, the agonizing pain to me seemed like a gateway to the ultimate joy and freedom I experienced at the top of the dome. We bagan our descending journey after some powerful Yoga practice at the highest point of the dome. Yoga at the top of this part of the world was amazingly refreshing. I was reminded of this experience when Dinesh uncle shared his reflections in the circle that "pain in inevitable, but it's well worth it when you reach the top of the mountain" -- yes -- it indeed was well worth it! -- thank you all.

 

 

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On Sep 9, 2010 aumatma wrote:

  Unconditional (Jennifer Welwood) Willing to experience aloneness, I discover connection everywhere; Turning to face my fear, I meet the warrior who lives within; Opening to my loss, I gain the embrace of the universe; Surrendering into emptiness, I find fullness without end. Each condition I flee from pursues me, Each condition I welcome transforms me And becomes itself transformed Into its radiant jewel-like essence. I bow to the one who has made it so, Who has crafted this Master Game. To play it is purest delight; To honor its form--true devotion.   See full.

 

Unconditional (Jennifer Welwood)

Willing to experience aloneness,
I discover connection everywhere;
Turning to face my fear,
I meet the warrior who lives within;
Opening to my loss,
I gain the embrace of the universe;
Surrendering into emptiness,
I find fullness without end.
Each condition I flee from pursues me,
Each condition I welcome transforms me
And becomes itself transformed
Into its radiant jewel-like essence.
I bow to the one who has made it so,
Who has crafted this Master Game.
To play it is purest delight;
To honor its form--true devotion.
 

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On Sep 9, 2010 Sun wrote:

I face this problem a lot, when someone says someting what is not logically correct or unreasonable as per my understanding and argues with me sticking to his point, I feel angry and respond in a way which I regret latter. I tell myself that I should be calm and composed during such interactions but I can't control myself at actual moment and get involved in the arguement. I feel like I am swept away in that moment of anger. Though I know that I must let go and not cling to the incident or words, It pops into my mind randomly and I start to think about the incident and again feel a little disturb. What I am trying to say is though I would prefer to be calm while intracting with people having different point of views, it is very difficult in reality. I would definitely try this approach and hope I will be more balanced and calm. I am a regular visitor of this great website and I know that I getting better day by day with all the good thoughts shared here. Thanks a lot for all the grea  See full.

I face this problem a lot, when someone says someting what is not logically correct or unreasonable as per my understanding and argues with me sticking to his point, I feel angry and respond in a way which I regret latter. I tell myself that I should be calm and composed during such interactions but I can't control myself at actual moment and get involved in the arguement. I feel like I am swept away in that moment of anger. Though I know that I must let go and not cling to the incident or words, It pops into my mind randomly and I start to think about the incident and again feel a little disturb. What I am trying to say is though I would prefer to be calm while intracting with people having different point of views, it is very difficult in reality. I would definitely try this approach and hope I will be more balanced and calm.

I am a regular visitor of this great website and I know that I getting better day by day with all the good thoughts shared here.

Thanks a lot for all the great thoughts.

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On Sep 8, 2010 James B wrote:

I like it...



On Sep 8, 2010 valkyrie wrote:

This is very thought provoking. I should try doing this although it would be very hard indeed.



On Sep 7, 2010 Lonnie wrote:

now that's a different perspective, food for thought - thank you



On Sep 7, 2010 sue wrote:

beautifully put - thank you so much - i shall try it next time i get all righteous about something that upsets/hurts xx sue



On Sep 7, 2010 Conrad P. Pritscher wrote:

Excellent again. I continue to be inspired. Keep doing these great things. You have my gratitude.

Conrad