I have been wrestling with the best way to describe my current experiences. For instance, when I am walking the nine palaces and I focus on the bubbling spring point at the bottom of my foot I have the immediate experience of something within the core of my being that is hard to describe. Is it pain? If so then what is hurting? Is it an intense feeling of energy? Yes and no. It is both painful and intense, yet neither of these words describes it perfectly.
I spent some time yesterday playing with the experience. When I stop for a moment and drop my awareness into my body I feel constriction that slowly releases. The process feels painful/intense. After the release, what remains feels painful and it takes my complete awareness to stay with it and keep open. As I observe it, I realize my initial definition of pain is not quite right. However, when I label it intense, that doesn’t seem quite right either.
I’ve decided the best way to describe my internal experience is using the term contracture. Contracture, technically, is the shortening of muscles and tendons, after being held in a shortened position for long periods of time. I have experienced temporary contracture for years. When I squat down and bend over to weed a section of garden, I find my muscles get stuck in that position and it takes a few seconds for them to release when I return to a standing position. At first I can only hunch over when I stand up, but slowly I am able to straighten up. There is some pain/discomfort associated with the release, but the feelings are only temporary. (This is no longer as much of an issue since I started using an infared heating pad.)
A simple way of thinking about contracture is that it is getting stuck in a certain position because of prolonged holding. I use this term here to refer to our habitual ways of thinking and living. Releasing a contracture results in short-term discomfort followed by greater freedom, choice and possibility, This best describes my internal experience as well. When I bring my attention back to my body, the constriction, that I have been unconsciously doing, releases with a moment of discomfort. However, the “pain” or “intensity” that led to my contraction still remains and it takes conscious effort not to clamp down again.
Anyone that has been in intense pain or chronic pain realizes that just maintaining normalcy can take a great deal of energy. In addition, there is a tendency to want to escape from the pain or create distractions to diminish the experience of pain. Given the level of “pain” my body is in, I am predictably more and more compulsive around food. Food is my drug of choice and despite of how ineffective it is, I am drawn to it in an attempt to relieve my pain and discomfort.
My experience has been going on for a over a month now. At first, I figured the underlying pain would pass in a few days and I would be restored to more inner peace. Instead, the turmoil continues to rage within. This inner turmoil has no face and seems to be beyond words. Every time I try to go back to my normal activities it reasserts its demand on my attention by triggering my food addiction. Still, it will not tell me its name, nor let me evict it from my being.