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Mindful : December 2015
What should I do when I start togetalotofpaininmylegsor my neck or my feet get tingly and go to sleep? If you find yourself experiencing discomfort, squirminess, or outright pain—cong ratulations! You have a body! First, evaluate. Ask: How likely is it that I will actually require medical attention as a result of these signals I’m receiving? Have my legs actually separated from my body? Are any bones visible outside the skin? Will I ever be able to play the piano again? Was I ever able to play the piano in the first place? If the pain or discomfort is not too intense, before adjusting for comfort, see what it’s like to rest within the physical sensations you find yourself experiencing. Unpack them. They may be like a drawer overloaded with stuff, so that everything inside is tangled up and bewildering. What’s in there—tingling? Take it out and place it aside. Heat? Pulsing? Pressure? Take them out and place them aside, too. See how these micro-sensations behave when they’re placed neatly side by side one another in your mind’s eye. Body sensations, like thoughts and emotions, have rich lives all their own, but eventually get up and move along to different things. Getting to know the shapes and textures, and even personalities, you might say, of our bodily sensations is a gift that meditation gives us. Acting upon that knowledge, we may be less inclined to grip tightly to how we wish things were, so that in the future, we can meet head on how things are—up to and including pain—with greater ease and less resistance. If you’re experiencing a lot of pain, it’s a good idea to move to a more comfortable posture or simply make a minor adjustment. Then begin again. It’s inevitable that no matter how com- fortable you may feel in a particular posture, pain or discomfort will set in at some point. If it’s not too intense, before moving for comfort, see if you can be with the physical experience, and investigate it, as I was saying above. Let yourself hang in there with it for a while and see what happens. Does it change, get worse, get better, or something else? And if your feet get tingly and go to sleep, it’s fine to wake them up. But once again, try being with the physical sensations for a moment or so before moving to wake them up. For most people, over time, you’ll need to do this less often. 8 When you meditate, you realize trying to stop thought is like trying to stop a steamroller with a feather. 56 mindful December 2015 meditation