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Community Member, Martin McLeish, shares his experiences participating in the Self-Compassion Small Batch. The ice exercise he references at the beginning of the piece requires the participant to hold a piece of ice until the pain becomes unbearable and then invites the man to share how he reacted to it with the other members of the batch. Here’s Martin:

Ok so I did the ice exercise listed in chapter seven.

I do not have any ice cubes in my fridge, so I used frozen fish I have caught 😀.

I was very aware as I started the exercise. Yes it was cold. Very cold but no surprises there.

The cold went deep into the palm of my hand, and then started moving up my wrist.

There was no move to open my hands; I was committed at the start of the exercise.

The cold and pain reached its final level. I explored the sensations as deeply as I could.

The pain radiated inwards and sideways. I was going to give it a number, but decided just to watch it.

Eventually both hands settled in to what was happening, but not before my mind wanted to just block the whole experience out. I could have done so quite easily.

Suddenly, I had the thought, “pain… that the best you can do?”

I laughed and opened my hand. I might cook those fish for supper tomorrow.

I hesitate to write what comes next.
I do not want to come across as a martyr, or some enlightened being. I am neither.
During the period I started working with my therapist to heal what had happened in early childhood, I became familiar with emotional pain over a very long period.

There were times I feared I would not be able to endure.
Fortunately for me, once again, Buddhist teachings came to the fore.

Some of the realizations I had included: if I wanted to heal what had gone before, I was going to have to feel what I had suppressed. There was going to be pain.

If I was going to hate, resist and escape the pain, there would be no progress.

There would also be no healing and I knew inherently the pain would persist.
Pandora’s Box had been opened.

Over time I came to see the best way to deal with what was going on.

I had to view the pain as a price of the healing.

Quite some time later I began to see “Pain” as something that would reward me for exploring and sitting in it.

If I was prepared to sit and experience the offerings it brought, things would move on. There was progress, and the progress was faster. I became less “stuck.”

I could not have done this work on my own. I am forever indebted to the woman who was a heaven sent gift.
Enid knew what I was capable of experiencing at any one time and would guide the sessions accordingly.

She knew what questions to ask, when, and when to back off and let matters coagulate.
RIP Enid Hatton.

I finally arrived at a place where I had clarity about what pain was/is and how to utilize it.

I was able to welcome Pain. Thank you so much for coming. You can stay as long as you like. I am open to learning everything you have come to teach me. I am grateful.

I made a couple of mistakes along the way. 😀
I achieved a couple of plateaus and thought to myself,” Well done! Now  you are bullet  proof and there will be no more pain.”
Mistake. 😀

As long as I am alive, there will be pain of some sort at some time. Embrace it and be grateful.

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