The following meditation is meant to be read slowly, leaving time for the meaning of each line to sink in. It can be read to oneself, or, if we are unable, it can be read to us by someone else. Even if we can't relate to every line, there are bound to be certain lines or phrases that will help remind us that our pain does not have to defeat us. Even more, the words can help us use the pain to have a deeper and more genuine experience of what our life is.
Take whatever position is comfortable, including lying down. As much as is possible, try to stay still.
Take a couple of deeper breaths to relax into the body. Notice where there is pain or discomfort, and allow your awareness to gently approach that area.
Use each arising of pain as a reminder of your wish to become inwardly free. Recall that each arising of pain can help you work with your attachment to comfort, to the body, and to control.
As you begin to approach the pain, say 'Hello' to it — greeting the feelings of pain as just sensations, not as the enemy that must be overcome.
If there is resistance, say 'Hello' to the resistance itself. Soften around the edges of the pain, until you can gently touch it with awareness.
Approaching the pain directly, notice specifically where it is located. As you softly breathe into it, notice how big it is.
As you breathe into it again, notice its shape.
Going deeper into the pain, feel its texture.
Is it hard or soft? Rough or smooth? Notice if it feels warm or cool.
Is there a pressure or throbbing? Do the sensations of discomfort move or stay still?
As awareness gently touches the pain, can you feel the sensations soften and lighten?
Focusing on the quality of the sensations of pain, see the difference between the sensations and your reactions to them.
Hear the mind's voice that says such things as 'Poor me,' 'Why is this happening to me?' 'What's going to happen to me?' Separating the thoughts from the sensations, notice how the pain lessens in intensity.
Continue breathing into the pain, again saying 'Hello' to it, not letting the catastrophic thoughts get traction. The thoughts, based in fear, only solidify the pain.
Separating from them, you can feel the pain without fear. You can feel the pain as just sensations in the body.
As you feel the texture of the pain, also bring awareness to the quality of the breath. Feel the breath as distinct from the pain.
Let awareness expand to take in the breath along with the pain.
While staying with the breath and the pain, expand awareness again to include the environment.
Feel the air around you. Notice the quality of light. Hear the ambient sounds. Stay with the pain, but within the expanded container of breath and environment.
Notice how the edges of the pain soften and blend into awareness itself.
Notice the size of the pain and see if it's different from before.
Saying 'Hello' to the pain, it is no longer the enemy.
To extend kindness to the pain, follow the in-breath to the center of the chest, and on the out-breath, send the wish for healing to the pain, using the exhale to massage the area of discomfort — not trying to get rid of the pain, but extending kindness to ourselves exactly as we are.
Wish yourself well as we would any friend in need.
Alternating breathing into the pain, including awareness of the breath and the environment, and extending kindness into the pain, allow the mind to increasingly relax into awareness itself — no longer just the body in pain.
Resting in awareness, touch the reality of just Being.
Bring to mind others you know who are also in pain. Picture each one struggling in their difficulty.
Now try to picture the many unknown others in the same or similar pain to your own.
Breathe the images of the others in pain into the center of the chest, and on the out-breath extend the wish for all that they be healed in their difficulties.
Breathing them in again, include yourself.
On the out-breath, again extend the wish for healing -— to others, to oneself, to the pain we all share.
No longer just a body in pain.
Let each arising of pain invite you to dwell in the Heart.
No longer just a body in pain.
Rest in awareness itself.— Ezra Bayda in Aging for Beginners by Ezra Bayda, Elizabeth Hamilton