Physical pain and anger

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
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Monlam Tharchin
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Physical pain and anger

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Sun Oct 01, 2017 2:50 am

I tend to respond with disproportionate anger to sudden physical pain.
It takes great restraint not to yell, curse, etc. even at something as simple as my cat accidentally scratching me.
Any advice on how to lessen this tendency?
Thanks :smile:

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Vasana
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Re: Physical pain and anger

Post by Vasana » Sun Oct 01, 2017 8:55 am

I get that too if I'm feeling irritable. I can't remember where I saw the advice but it was essentially that it's quite difficult to be reactionless right away but that the initial technique is being mindful of the interval between the pain and the extended mental commentary that usually follows. Rather than the anger lasting 15 seconds, you're able to remember the futility of adding mental commentary to a physical event that began the process of subsiding the very nano-second it arose. The other advice for encountering any kind of pain was to reflect on how important that single event or moment is in the grand scheme of things. If stubbing your toe or getting a cat scratch 5 yers ago isn't likely to be something you think about much today, then it's likely that we're investing too much mental energy into a transient and largely unimportant moment of contact.
'When alone, watch your mind. When with others, watch your speech'- Old Kadampa saying.

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Vasana
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Re: Physical pain and anger

Post by Vasana » Sun Oct 01, 2017 8:58 am

"Now, the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones, when touched with a feeling of pain, does not sorrow, grieve, or lament, does not beat his breast or become distraught. So he feels one pain: physical, but not mental. Just as if they were to shoot a man with an arrow and, right afterward, did not shoot him with another one, so that he would feel the pain of only one arrow. In the same way, when touched with a feeling of pain, the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones does not sorrow, grieve, or lament, does not beat his breast or become distraught. He feels one pain: physical, but not mental."

Sallatha Sutta: The Arrow: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
'When alone, watch your mind. When with others, watch your speech'- Old Kadampa saying.

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Re: Physical pain and anger

Post by muni » Sun Oct 01, 2017 1:07 pm

There is nothing whatsoever
That is no made easier through acquaintance.
So through becoming acquainted with small harms,
I should learn to patiently accept greater harms. Shantideva.
If the cat is scratching someone being under narcosis, there would be no problem, there would be no reacting mind. Would it be helpful by regularly practice to direct focus to the mind instead off towards cats' scratch and so...?

Breath-meditation?

And then you can also cut cat its' points of its' claws if he/she is a house cat.
But to eliminate everything what can disturb or irritate is finally an impossible job and suffering itself, leaving no chance for paramita patience, tolerance neither.
“ Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek. ”
H H Dalai Lama

"Relax." nirvana-samsara do not stray from spaciousness.

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LastLegend
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Re: Physical pain and anger

Post by LastLegend » Mon Oct 02, 2017 6:18 am

You have almost reached enlightenment because you truly respond to pain like you know how hahahaha :rolling:
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)

Bodhidharma [my translation]
―I come to the East to transmit this clear knowing mind without constructing any dharma―

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Dan74
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Re: Physical pain and anger

Post by Dan74 » Mon Oct 02, 2017 6:38 am

I'm guessing, MT, that there is an early experience linking pain and anger that subsequent practice reinforced.

Did you share before that sitting meditation isn't really your thing, was that (partly) why? The reason I ask is thqt I found sitting meditation very painful at first (well for the first few years at least) and was often annoyed at retreats why we had to sit so long, why the teacher seemed to have forgotten the bell, etc etc. Eventually all this extrinsic annoyance went away.

Slow gentle exposure to pain and an opportunity to work with it, might help unlink this association.

But... we are built differently and there may well be other reasons behind it.

All the best with it!!

_/|\_

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Monlam Tharchin
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Re: Physical pain and anger

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Wed Oct 04, 2017 11:51 pm

Hi, Dan! Sorry for the delay.
I don't generally have a problem with "slow" pain, or pain that I'm expecting.
A chronic stomach problem has kind of given me ample practice for that kind.
It's only abrupt, unexpected/surprising pains that seem to unleash this anger.
So it's hard to train myself in that way.
My main daily life practice now is mantra and divine pride, which seems to help. The discomforts of meditation aren't so much a bother by now.
I suppose I just want to do better, not fly off the handle if I stub my toe, get stabbed, or fall over.

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justsit
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Re: Physical pain and anger

Post by justsit » Thu Oct 05, 2017 1:33 am

The human body typically responds to an external insult (ie, a sudden source of pain) with an autonomic nervous system jolt. A "fight or flight" reaction occurs with a big release of the adrenaline which would be needed. So an unexpected cat scratch can trigger an adrenaline rush, which your mind may interpret as anger, and you immediately cuss or whatever.

In physiological terms, it may be better to do the quick cuss to defuse the adrenaline than try to suppress it with immediate equanimity. If it's just a biological reaction, you can be aware of the response, watch it, and let it go. It will spontaneously self-liberate. :tongue:

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