Hi Ben, all,
I've had a few experiences with overcoming pain through meditation, that here might be a good place to share. Not sitting in half-lotus or anything, I mean I was reclining back comfortably, with a cold compress on my head. But I did two things. First, I tuned into my breath, to calm myself down a bit (the pain was intense and I wasn't calm). Once I was more relaxed, I turned my attention to the pain itself. I gently guided my awareness into every aspect of the sensations, trying to find their centre,
Needless to say this isn't easy and it hurts a heck of a lot, I'm not going to sugar-coat it. Anyway, the only way I could do this was to surrender to the pain - to not wish it gone.
This was very difficult, because the acquired habit we all have is to reject pain. But I saw this as an experiment, something that I knew would not last forever. So I worked and worked to sincerely accept the pain, to stop trying to push it away, stop wishing it to be gone. It's a 180 degree turnaround, that instead of awareness trying to escape
the sensations, it actually 'goes in deeper and deeper' and willingly explores
So I'm exploring it. What is it, really? Throbbing...pulsating...(this all happens over the course of half an hour or so)...go deeper into what hurts the most (in peace) - there,
that? And while I was trying to find it's centre, it's 'essence' or 'substance', I started to perceive it as heat.
It was like, the pain had changed into something else.
This was amazing. Anyway, I kept going, into that
...and over a period of time it began to dissipate, fade away.
It doesn't always work this way for me, and there can be this trap where you do the meditation thinking, "ok pain I accept you" while in the secret back of your mind you are thinking, "ok I accept you now hurry up and dissipate!" So it isn't always easy to do, because ime one has to be sincere
in the acceptance. And sometimes it doesn't go away in the time-frame I would like it to...I just have to 'let it be' for what can be up to half a day, if need be lying down in bed half asleep. But I must admit that since then I have not taken a pill for a headache, I deal with it naturally - cold compress on the forehead, glass of water, lie back, relax, breathe...and if need be, just a good lie down.