Injury, loss and anguish are part of being human, just as are joy and delight. If we bring awareness to our relationship with our thoughts about what is happening, we can take on the role of the observer and not get caught up in the pain. The observer / witness does not feel the pain, is only aware of it, and being aware, being mindful, can bring us to wholeness of self rather than getting lost in the part that hurts.
“If you move to pure awareness in the midst of pain, even for the tiniest moment, your relationship with your pain is going to shift right in that very moment. It is impossible for it not to change because the gesture of holding it, even if not sustained for long, even for a second or two, already reveals its larger dimensionality. And that shift in your relationship with the experience gives you more freedom in your attitude and your actions….”
Jon Kabot-Zinn in "Coming to Our Senses"
Using awareness or meditation as a form of pain management allows us to rely more on the power of our mind than on external substances or activities to move through difficult situations. The willingness to embrace what is, and actually work with it, does take honesty, willingness and courage, especially when we are dealing with emotions that we don’t want to feel. As an example, instead of reacting with anger when we experience feelings of inadequacy or fear, we can choose to take a moment to observe our thoughts and feelings, and be present with the experience, holding it and ourselves in compassion, instead of jumping into old patterns of reaction. This approach can work with both emotional and physical pain, and allows us to choose a different way to experience and respond, opening pathways to transformation.