Tuesday, December 4, 2012

How to Overcome Pain During Meditation?

I mentioned about sitting in meditation in my previous blog. Now I am going to give some tips on how to overcome pain during meditation. Actually it does not come from me, but something I learned from Venerable Master Hsuan Hua  - my Ch'an master. He said, "To endure suffering is to overcome suffering." I think I read this is one of Ven. Heng Sure's journey on foot, bowing every 3 steps. In his account he related about his leg being very painful and almost could not walk. But once the blood was able to flow through the "blockage", it ceased to bother him. So there you are - the tips.
Pain arises during meditation when you sit long enough in meditation. What I mean is not 5 to 15 minutes, but at least 30 minutes continuously. What I went through during the meditation retreat was not 30 minutes, but 40 to 50 minutes per session. In a single day, there are a total of slightly more than 12 hours of meditation, consisting of at least 11 hours of sitting meditation spread throughout the day till night, with 3 meal breaks in between, and 10 minutes of walking meditation in between sessions. There are a few sessions in between meals. If you sit that long, your leg is bound to hurt, so will your back, arms and shoulders. That happens because when you do not move your body parts for awhile, I presume the blood does not quite flow naturally. But if you persists, your "chi" will eventually flow again and makes the blood flow once more. Then the pain will disappear or reduce. Basically, it not bother you anymore. If your legs get numb, it is wise to move it a little, or change leg. What I mean is if you had put your right leg on your left, you should now put the other way. But don't make it a habit to change it too often, or you will never be able to overcome the leg pain. Even though my experience is nothing compared to Ven. Heng Sure's I have learned to see some truth in his statement and Ven. Master Hsuan Hua's.     
Of course, my tip above is more of personal endurance. But not enduring pain foolishly, rather try not to move the body at the slightest pain. We look at the pain and then let it go. Focus the attention on the meditation. Not the pain, unless it gets very unbearable. Then move a little. Otherwise, don't get into the habit of moving at every single pain or discomfort. In our tradition, we are allowed to stand up should it get too painful. Or, we could "request" for a beating by the Zen stick. It helps to get the blood flow again. From my experience, it only helps a little bit. It is better to conquer it.
Mind you that this is not a blogpost to boast about myself. I am sincere in sharing this small tips. There is still pain if I sit for long periods, but at least now I know how to manage it. Because I get readers who search for information in the internet, I am writing this tip primarily for the sake of these people. I hope it will benefit some people. I was also looking for some info on this topic but could not find much. People are also reluctant to share their "recipe" for conquering pain. I was quite disappointed. Hence I do not wish to let another person like me, who is seriously into meditation to experience again what I went through. I learned it the hard way, and now wish to share it with others who are keen.  

No comments: