Pain vs. Suffering

I don’t want to say too much to take away from the beauty of this quote. Just read it! Five times. And let it transform your relationship with pain.

The following quote is by Thomas McConkie, a mindfulness teacher with 20 years experience in meditation and adult development. This was in answer to a questions from a student about how he should deal with his knee pain.

“Mindfulness practice isn’t any different than your life. What I mean by that, is on a given day some good stuff happens and some hard and challenging stuff happens. In practice, as in life, the goal is not to feel or experience a “certain something”. The goal more properly stated is to develop a totally different relationship with experience. So that when experience is challenging, I’m able to let it challenge me. And when experience is really blissful and pleasant, I’m able to let it fulfill me. And as you come into this “still point”, as it’s sometimes called, where experience just happens, it swirls around you and through you, and it stops sticking. Life develops a very smooth and fluid quality. So whether it’s a really good day or bad day, every day is a good day because there is no SUFFERING. Pain and pleasure are always happening. Pain and pleasure are opposites that constitute the entire living world. But suffering drops. It drops! So the pain experience doesn’t ever have to be blissful, you don’t ever have to like it, at the level of your personality you don’t ever have to pour love over your pain and think “Oh I had the most amazing pain tonight!” That’s not what we’re doing at all. But actually let the pain challenge you. Let it negate you. Let it even crush you as it stabs you and twists and burns. Something deeper in you learns to yield, just totally yield to experience. And all of the sudden you are shocked that life is really uncomfortable, and there is still this underlying bliss. You are still just aware of this quality of freedom, like how could life be so enjoyable when it’s going this badly. That’s why they call this liberation oriented practice. Because at the deepest level of who you are, you learn to be free in every condition.”

For more information and resources, check out his website here, Lower Lights Sangha


McKay Murdock DPT, Pain Specialist, Physical Therapist, Mindfulness Practitioner

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