A couple of weeks ago, a research project crossed my path. In this study, researchers tested the power of the mind and its power of anticipation in relationship to pain. They discovered that if test subjects anticipated a situation to be painful, they physically experienced pain EVEN if the situation did not have the propensity for pain. However, if the test subjects did not have any expectation of experiencing pain, then, they did not experience any pain. AND, even more interesting, if the activity or situation actually had the propensity to cause pain, without any expectation of experiencing pain, the test subjects did not experience any pain!
Let’s pause here and reflect on this. Firstly, a disclaimer: I know this is a subject that I cover quite regularly and weave into most of my blogs. Stay with me. This particular theme and understanding underlies, in my opinion, the very reason we are alive: to joyfully create ourselves. It represents the foundation of our inner self’s reason for being in the body and thus deserves such attention. Unfortunately, most people fail to apply this foundational wisdom into their daily lives. They might intellectually understand the concept, but, never put the wisdom into practice. Thus, they suffer, and needlessly.
Circling back to the research, what a commentary and affirmation on the power of our minds to choose our experience of life! Clearly we cannot choose or control what occurs to us on a moment by moment basis. Life happens. However, we do control how we meet that situation; the choices we make with our decision making capability. We can take a miserable situation and experience it as pure pleasure. AND in contrast, we can also take a pleasant situation and turn it into pure misery. We choose. Our experience of life boils down to...*drum role*:
the stories we tell ourselves.
Weaving this understanding into the theme of pain, I want to provide the different permutations and layers where pain can arise in our lives. It can affect any part of or our entire self structure: physical layer, vital layer, emotional layer, and/or mental layer. Another disclaimer, pain can either be acute or chronic. Chronic pain begins in the subtle fields of the body. Acute pain in the form of an injury or accident also can be a message from our inner self. When accessing any physical pain, be sure to look towards inner origins.
Chronic physical pain is usually the last ditch effort of our intelligent self-system; our inner source; or our inner self to get our attention; to show us that we are on the wrong path. Acute pain from accidental injury is also an emergency way to attract our attention. Pay attention; ask: “Inner source what are you trying to show me or say to me? What do I need to do?” Listen for the answer which might come as words OR as emotional excitement over a thought.
In the presence of pain or even the potential prospect of pain, the brain contracts along with the energy field of the human expression. From this point of contraction, a downward spiral begins leading to even lower frequency emotions and expressions. In turn, the stories we start telling ourselves perpetuate more contraction which in turn leads to more pain. Notice the self fulfilling circle.
To the left of the midpoint starts the direction of high frequency expression and likewise to the right of the midpoint satisfaction begins lower frequency expressions. If stuck to the right of midpoint, it can feel like a mountain climb to shift to the left of midpoint.
The reason I call the mind’s tendency the “slippery slope” lies in just how quickly the mind slides towards the downward spiral. It needs only a gentle nudge for most of us. In contrast, the mind needs a giant shove to propel us to the left of midpoint into the upward spiral.
It is much easier to find the emotional signature of contentment within, than to find the emotional signature of joy. Not to mention trying to maintain joy while in distress.
Firstly, don’t fret.
Secondly, reach for contentment/satisfaction - the midpoint. Start slow, strengthen the emotional base and sustain it at contentment. Without any further effort, the mind will suddenly pop further upward on the emotional scale. The secret? Not letting our emotional signature drop to the right of midpoint or “content”.
AND this my friends lies within our control! Voilà, our power. To be completely transparent, slipping to the right of satisfaction happens naturally and honestly dozens of times daily, over and over until we build the neural habit of resting in contentment.
Take heart and be vigilant! Notice when the slip occurred and simply bring the mind back to midpoint. In the beginning, it might require dozens of shifts back to “content.” Over time, this frequency of occurrence decreases and the mind’s emotional signature stays at the midpoint. Like any new venture, it needs only our attention, dedication, patience, and practice. Trust me. It works!