Ajahn Thanissaro – Using Meditation to Deal with Pain, Illness & Death

Thanissaro_Bhikkhu

Unfortunately people realize the importance of meditation only when facing the pain , illness , anxiety and depression . But meditation is an important partof our life , should be started as early as possible , our children should be trained to meditate themselves to live peacefully & mindfully in much stress oriented society .

My topic today is the role that meditation can play in facing issues of pain, illness & death — not a pleasant topic, but an important one. Sadly, it’s only when people are face to face with a fatal illness that they start thinking about these issues, and often by that point it’s too late to get fully prepared. Although today’s conference centers around what medicine can do for AIDS, we shouldn’t be complacent. Even if AIDS or its adventitious infections don’t get you, something else will, so it’s best to be prepared, to practice the skills you’ll need when medicine — Chinese, Western or whatever — can no longer help you, and you’re on your own. As far as I’ve been able to determine, the only way to develop these skills is to train the mind. At the same time, if you are caring for someone with a fatal disease, meditation offers you one of the best ways to restore your own spiritual and emotional batteries so that you can keep going even when things are tough.

A lot has appeared in the media — books, newspapers, magazines, TV — about the role of meditation in treating illness and emotional burnout. As usually happens when the media get hold of a topic, they have tended to over- or under-estimate what meditation is and what it can do for you. This is typical of the media. Listening to them is like listening to a car salesman. He doesn’t have to know how to drive the car or care for it. His only responsibility is to point out its selling points, what he thinks he can get you to believe and shell out your money for. But if you’re actually going to drive the car, you have to study the owner’s manual. So that’s what I’d like to present today: a user’s manual for meditation to help you when the chips are down.

I’ve had a fair amount of first-hand experience in this area. The year before I left Thailand I was stricken with malaria — a very different sort of disease from AIDS, but still the number one killer in the world. At present, every year, more people die of malaria than any other disease, this in spite of the massive WHO campaign to wipe it out back in the 60′s. Huge supplies of chloroquine were handed out to Third World villagers. Swamps and homes were sprayed with lethal doses of DDT to kill off the mosquitoes. But now new strains of the malaria parasite have developed for which Western medicine has no cure, the mosquitoes have become resistant to DDT, and the malaria death rate is back on the rise. Remember this when you think of pinning your hopes on NIH or the Salk Institute to come up with a cure or vaccine for AIDS.

I was fortunate. As you can see, I survived, but only after turning to traditional medicine when the best treatment that tropical disease specialists could offer me failed. At the same time, while I was sick I was able to fall back on the meditation I had been practicing for the past several years to help get me through the worst bouts of pain and disorientation. This is what convinced me of its value in cases like this.

In addition to my own experience, I’ve been acquainted with a number of meditators both here and in Thailand who have had to live with cancer and other serious illnesses, and from them I have learned how the meditation helped them to handle both the illness and the cures — which are often more dreadful than the cancer itself. I’ll be drawing on their experiences in the course of this talk.

But first I’d like us all to sit in meditation for a few minutes, so that you can have a firsthand taste of what I’m talking about, and so you can have a little practical experience to build on when you go back home.

The technique I’ll be teaching is breath meditation. It’s a good topic no matter what your religious background. As my teacher once said, the breath doesn’t belong to Buddhism or Christianity or anyone at all. It’s common property that anyone can meditate on. At the same time, of all the meditation topics there are, it’s probably the most beneficial to the body, for when we’re dealing with the breath, we’re dealing not only with the air coming in and out of the lungs, but also with all the feelings of energy that course throughout the body with each breath. If you can learn to become sensitive to these feelings, and let them flow smoothly and unobstructed, you can help the body function more easily, and give the mind a handle for dealing with pain.

Continue reading…

Source : Ajahn Thanissaro – Using Meditation to Deal with Pain, Illness & Death

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About Dr Prabhat Tandon

A homeopathic doctor by profession and atheist by nature .But spiritually more inclined towards theravada Buddhism .
This entry was posted in Articles on Meditations, Buddha, Death, Dhamma, Holistic Healing, old age and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Ajahn Thanissaro – Using Meditation to Deal with Pain, Illness & Death

  1. Pingback: Finding Comfort – The Good, The Bad and the Ugly | Awakened Lives Life Coaching

  2. Pingback: What Meditation Is and Is Not | Little Village Buddhist Meditation Center (Centro de Meditación Budista)

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