The tangible indicator as to whether something is positive or negative is suffering. It is important to distinguish between positive and negative pain. An example of positive pain is the muscular pain you experience when you begin a program of physical exercise. This pain subsides after a day or so when the muscle gain strength through use. Another example is the pain you may feel when false ego reacts to being exposed. This pain also subsides as you accept the false ego as false and choose self-respect. An example of negative pain is when you take sorrow from someone’s harsh or insulting words. Your pain and emotional suffering increases whenever you remember the incident. The experience of pain is an indicator that to take someone’s negative behavior personally is negative on your part. As you develop self-respect the habit of taking negative things personally fades. Self-respect also frees you from craving positive feedback and feeling pain when you do not receive the appreciation you desire.
The philosophy of karma says that physical or mental suffering or disease is one of the consequences of negative action. The healing of physical and mental diseases needs to place on the physical symptomatic level, the emotional and psychological levels and at the spiritual level. The state of being free from mental or physical illness is a result of positive thought and actions. All actions are initiated by thoughts.
Allopathic medical science recognizes a connection between physical illness and mental attitude, quality of thoughts, behavior and social circumstances. Homoeopathy takes the mental make-up of a patient into account when prescribing for physical ailments. It has been found that negative thinking, anxiety and worry lead to physical sickness and retard the healing process. Ken Pelletier describes this in his book Mind as Healer, Mind as Slayer.
Louise Hay’s work on overcoming Aids and Dr. Gerald Jampolsky’s work at the Center of Attitudinal Healing in Tiburon, California,have shown conclusively that Cancer and other life threatening diseases can be overcome through affirmations, adopting a positive attitude and ceasing to hold negative attitudes, memories and feelings. Patients are also taught to maintain positive thoughts and to use visualization techniques like imagining the white cells eating up the cancer cells. This approach is called ‘attitudinal healing’.
The saying goes, ”Early to bed, early to rise, makes you healthy, wealthy and wise.” Health care professionals generally suggests that if you wish to sustain or regain health it is good to ensure that you get appropriate exercise, a healthy diet and adequate rest. Many say that smoking, drinking alcohol and indulging in casual sex are bad for your mental, emotional and physical health. Discordant behavior due to mental illness needs to be treated through a combination of medical, psychological, social and spiritual therapies. Many medical and psychological doctors recommend meditation to support recuperation from a variety of physical and mental ailments. Antisocial behavior due to unresolved emotional trauma needs to be resolved through psychological, social and spiritual therapies, and character defects due to ignorance and the influence of others need to be resolved by social and spiritual education.
It is known that rehabilitation not punishment is required to enable a person who has committed a crime to interact harmoniously with others and within the social system. Our culture does not take into account the fact that all people found guilty of criminally antisocial behavior also have a history of mental and physical trauma and usually come from dysfunctional families. Yet society traditionally chooses to punish them with jail sentences.
Original Pain Work
Change cannot take place within until there is silence. Meditation is an important agent for change because it is a way to reach inner stillness. Meditation is an inner journey. Along the way you encounter two forms of pain. One is the pain you feel when you come face to face with your past wrong actions. These are the things that are on your conscience. When you try to go into silence memories appear in your mind and trouble you. The natural response is avoidance. Many people say that they cannot meditate because when they turn within it evokes unpleasant memories.
The second form of pain surrounds the violations, traumas and bad experiences of your past, including childhood trauma, molestation, sexual and/or emotional abuse, beatings and experiences of shock and grief. A natural psychological protective response is for these memories to sink into the subconscious mind. The child forgets the trauma as a matter of survival yet as an adult the unexpressed and unresolved emotions are acted out or acted in or projected onto others. The emotions take the form of dysfunctional behavior, neuroses, phobias, irrational fears or extreme feelings, for example, experiencing intense feelings about an event disproportionate to the trivial nature of the incident. If the incident resembles the original trauma in any way, it can trigger an extreme response. Many people who experienced childhood trauma and are victims of abuse become perpetrators if they do not do original pain work. Their repressed emotions find expression in the compulsion to abuse others in the same way in which they were abused, or they may find themselves in situations or relationships with people who take advantage of their damaged boundaries , so the abuse continues in adulthood.
To heal from such psychic wounds requires expert professional therapy. This is very rare in India, and the psychological discipline of original pain work is a relatively new field of therapy. A combination of meditation and professional therapy can enable to work through their original pain.
Original pain work typically occurs in three phases which are :
This involves first uncovering what was done to you. Secondly you discover that you are not the bad person you had been led to believe. This happens because the perpetrators often deflect their guilt onto the victim, shame them into silence and threaten them with dire consequences if they ever speak about the event. Thirdly you need to recover from the psychic wounds. Once this delicate psychotherapeutic process is under way, you find the coping mechanism and means of psychological survival you used as a child to preserve a semblance of sanity have become character defects in adult life. Without getting in touch with your original pain and finding out why you adopted dysfunctional behaviors or how you acquired irrational fears you cannot change. This is why original pain work is relevant in any effort for personal change.
One of the methods of healing is to re-parent the self as described in the inner child work pioneered by John Bradshaw and others during the 1980s. In his book Homecoming Bradshaw writes, ‘Children from dysfunctional families often have no allies, no one to whom they can express their emotions. So they express them in the only way they know – by ‘acting them out’ or ‘acting them in’. The earlier the repression takes place, the more destructive the repressed emotions are. These unresolved and unexpressed emotions are what i refer to as ‘original pain’. Original pain work involves re-experiencing these earliest traumas and expressing the repressed emotions. Letting go of ego defenses connects a person with his or her earliest emotions. Original pain work effects great healing by enabling one simply to feel these unresolved emotions from the past; you actually experience the original repressed feelings. I call it the uncovery process. It is the only thing that will bring about the kind of deep change that truly resolves feelings.’
Having understood what happened and faced it with professional help, you then need to undertake the journey of restoring yourself to psychological health and shaping your character according to the contours of your essential spiritual qualities of purity, peace, love, bliss and power. Your meditation becomes an essential element for empowering the soul and filling the empty spaces with love, peace, inner power and the missing positive feelings. The source is the Supreme Being, who is described as the unlimited ocean of purity, peace, love, mercy, light and other spiritual qualities. The distortions caused by your reactions to trauma can then be reformed. The real you blossoms and the wounded self, the broken hearted, betrayed and abandoned child gradually heals retroactively.
Excerpt from the Diploma of Education in Values and Spirituality, by BK Denise Lawrence, published by Brahma Kumaris Educational Society, Mount Abu, India, 2004