>> In exercises regarding recreation of the senses, I have noticed that although senses such as sight, sound, touch etc can be made real with the mind, I cannot create a sensation of pain. Even when recalling a very painful event, I can only (all too easily) recreate the psychological reaction to that pain, but not the physical sensation itself. Why is this so? <<
;-) You've answered your own question! The distinction between "pain" and simple "sensation" is primarily psychological. Both involve energy moving along nerves in response to a stimulus. When this nerve energy reaches the brain it is *interpreted* by the brain and identified as this or that. And when the brain says "pain!", the physical body starts creating endorphins which stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain and tend to make the body forget its pain.
So unless you are currently experiencing pain, it's very difficult, *at first*, to create the sensation from memory in the Step Two exercise. I suggest (assuming you're not already experiencing a pain) that you create the sensation of pain by poking your finger with a sewing needle or pin. Focus intently upon the sensation and experience it as fully as possible in the short time it lasts. Then, try to replicate it immediately with your creative imagination. You will learn some valuable lessons about pain from this harmless little experiment!
>> And why are the psychological effects of pain so far worse than the (usually) brief moment of the pain itself? Come to think of it, psychological pain is always far worse, even when there was no physical pain that triggered it. <<
The psyche is what *interprets* sensation and decides if it is "pleasurable" or "painful" or somewhere in between. In other words, it's the psyche that suffers "pain", not the body itself. The body only *experiences sensation*. It's when we mentally and emotionally *interpret* the sensation perceived by our body-instrument that the valuations of "pain" and "pleasure" emerge. Emotional injuries (as opposed to physical injuries) create a perception of pain that the psyche *does* remember because it is a purely psychic pain and there is no bodily mechanism to dull or transform this sort of pain.
In other words, it is possible *for the mind* to transform "pain" into "pleasure" (or anywhere in between) and vise versa, in so far as the mind is what controls the interpretation of sensation. This is true for physical "pain" AND for emotional "pain".
>> If the psychological reaction to the pain can be overcome, can the sensation of the pain itself be .. um, not lessened, not transformed, just ... disconnected. Still aware of it, not upset by it (not *me*). That would give a whole new dimension to the sensation of physical pain. Probably a lot easier to bear. <<
Yes, on all counts. ANY sensation can be transformed or disconnected from / ignored. The Center of Stillness Meditation demonstrates a technique for accomplishing this.
For example, take the sensation of a dull, prolonged muscle ache. Focus your whole attention upon the perception of this dull ache. Isolate just the sensation itself from all of the thoughts that arise in response to it and from all of the emotions that attach to those thoughts. Recognize it is just *a* sensation without any special significance.
Now, to transform it into a different sensation, such as a relaxed warmth, you use your creative imagination and fill the raw, insignificant energy of the sensation with the *significance* of relaxed warmth. Recognize the sensation as being one of relaxed warmth.
Alternately, to wipe the sensation from your field of perception (i.e., to ignore it) all you have to do is move your *whole* attention to something else and focus it exclusively there.
My best to you,
:) Rawn Clark
26 Apr 2003