suffering deeply during my first fifty miler, 2011

suffering deeply during my first fifty miler, 2011

this morning I woke early beside the creek and immediately embarked on a run. I worked up the paved road with faith that my strides would yeild a taxxing Forest Service road made of art. after just a song or two of hard road running without another soul in sight I intuitively branched onto a dirt spur road that proclaimed 'Road Closed Ahead' and I sped up because I know these are the ribbons that will keep going and going allowing me to exorcise my excess energy before the day's heat begins.

as I went I thought many beautiful thoughts, writing and destroying poetry in my head. I noted the day's residual heat from the 100F+ day before.

on the descent I felt so joyful I could barely contain myself; I felt heavy and strong. the slight pain of a speed-induced lactic acid dump allowed me to finally mill a post about productive pain for you which I've included after the quote here. serendipitously, I just received a newsletter from Arno Ilgner's 'Warrior's Way' program which nicely echoes my philosophy on pain. enjoy.

There’s a difference between physical and mental suffering. Physical suffering is a given. If we want to climb a big wall, then we’ll suffer physically on the approach, the climb, and the return. A lot of physical effort will be needed to accomplish the goal. However, mental suffering is optional. If the mind is focused on resisting the physical suffering, then we’ll suffer mentally.

Suffering increases as our attention shifts out of the present moment. The body is always in the present moment. To minimize physical suffering we focus our attention on the quality of how we engage the body. We do this by relaxing into the stress of the moment. We focus our attention on breathing, proper posture, relaxing as much as possible, and our senses. If our attention is focused in the body and what we perceive with our senses, then it won’t be focused in the mind, thinking about escaping the stress.

The thinking mind thinks in the present moment, but the thinking process itself focuses our attention on past experiences and future goals. This is necessary for effective information gathering, planning, and decision-making. However, once thinking is finished and we decide to take action, we need to position the mind as the observer. The mind observes the body while it’s engaged in the stressful situation. We suffer mentally and lose mental power if we allow the mind to think during action. The mind does this in several ways.
— Arno Ilgner

associative pain works because we do not resist it. it works because productive pain does not exist in a vacuum nor is it a singular experience.

when I am in pain I am also many other things. I may feel successful or dejected, I may feel hopeless or irradiated with pleasure. pain and pleasure co-exist. once we get past the farce that pain is to be denied, ignored, or focused on we can truly engage its lessons.

to disassociate from pain is to engage in self-loathing, self-flagellating, hardened behavior denying a true part of the experience, an inalienable part of the self. reaching for practical words in this context is useless. to deny pain or to engage in a battle with pain is a useless waste of energy and a self-loathing pursuit. to associate with the productive pain of endurance is an acceptance of experience.

accepting my pain often cascades into my enlightenment to a new spectrum of experience, deeper shades of my practice. the pain is part of me and it takes a certain gentleness to accept. I am my pleasure and pain at once. if we can soften, approach our pain with vulnerable familiarity it won't stop hurting but we will stop wasting energy rejecting it. pain can be befriended. my pain is now a great teacher, yet another source of information to me as I conduct mountain movement.

my pain refines me.