One cannot get through life without pain...What we can do is choose how to use the pain life presents to you.
-Bernie Siegel

From "Meditation" by Kabat-Zinn, Massion, Hebert and Rosenbaum, in "Breast Cancer: Beyond Convention," edited by Mary Tagliaferri, Isaac Cohen and Debu Tripathy:

Mindfullness encourages a willingness to look deeply into any and all emotional states and life circumstances, even negative or scary ones, simply because they are already present and a part of your experience. If pain and suffering suddenly become part of your life, they thus become appropriate to embrace with mindful awareness. Whatever your situation or condition, from the perspective of mindfulness, it is "workable" if you are willing to work with it by holding it gently in awareness.

Pain and suffering are often used as interchangeable terms, but from the perspective of mindfulness they are quite different. Pain describes basic sensory input, whether physical or emotional, that is perceived as hurtful. Suffering, on the other hand, describes an emotional interpretation of that input. In response to any level of pain, we have a choice of many responses: from extreme suffering with very little stimulus, to minimal suffering even in the face of severely traumatic events or stimuli. In mindfulness practice, pain and suffering can be held in awareness and seen with greater patience, clarity, and intimacy, which can provide insight into new ways of understanding and coping with one's situation.

For women with breast cancer, meditation can complement the use of medication when needed for the control of pain. Meditation calls on you to look deeply and nonjudgmentally into the experience of pain as bare sensation, even if it is only for a few moments at a time at first. As you practice more, you can gradually lengthen the time you attempt to observe the sensations with nonattachment. When you are in pain, this might mean directing your attention to a particular region of the body and coupling it with a sense of the breath moving into and out of that region, observing any changes in sensations from moment to moment.

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