As we learn to relax our resistance to unpleasant sensations, we discover an open and tender space of awareness that has room for living and dying.
We cultivate Radical Acceptance of pain by relaxing our resistance to unpleasant sensations, and meeting them with open, clear awareness. This exercise is especially useful if you are presently distressed by physical pain.
If you find that pain feels like “too much,” rather than turning against yourself or the pain, let your response be compassionate. In moments of acute unpleasantness, it can be wise to redirect your attention away from the pain, or to take care of yourself in ways that provide ease and comfort. Then, when you are able, begin again.
As you practice bringing gentle mindfulness to pain, your ability to meet life with equanimity will grow stronger. You’ll be able to let go of resistance more readily, and discover peace and freedom in the midst of whatever is arising. Presence in the face of pain dissolves the perception of an oppressed, struggling self—a self who is at war with life. What’s revealed is a tender openness that has room for living and dying.
Resource talk: The Dance with Pain