Pain. We have all experienced it.
Pain is not the same as suffering. Suffering requires a story. Without a story, pain is simply a sensation that is occurring. Suffering is optional.
What does pain have to do with focus? Although pain may be inescapable (when you step on a tack, it is supposed to hurt…), the experience of suffering due to pain is actually optional. We do have power over the choice to suffer through learning focus.
Physical pain is a very necessary part of our human experience. Pain is a sensation generated by nerves being acted on by something in our environment. It could be a tack in our shoe or a toxin released by an unwanted guest in our large intestine. Pain alerts us to a situation and then allows us to fix the situation or change our behavior like removing the tack from our foot or altering our activity levels while our body fights an infection.
An unnecessary part of pain has to do with the stories we create, usually unknowingly, around the sensation. An example of this is to wonder why the tack that we stepped on was there and getting angry with the person who left it there, or to remember how last time the stomach flu lasted “so long,” and then worry that we may never recover from our current bout of illness.
Learning focus does not change the fact that we are experiencing pain. Learning how to focus on something that is not pain does not repress, deny or change the fact that a sensation exists in our body. Focus simply gives us an alternative experience where we have pain without the stories.
Suffering requires a story. Without a story, pain is simply a sensation that is occurring. How cool is that? It is worth learning more.