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Pain Chronicles

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It is late evening.

Pain before bedtime

Before I go to bed I draw the pain.

It is a night with many waking hours. The pain just does not respond to all my tricks and I do not fall asleep. I meditate so as to get into a state where the body relaxes completely. At least there will be some rest for the body. When the pain is so strong the body convulses. The thighs contract, the buttocks contract, the area of the stomach contracts, the chest contracts and there is a push of energy up, that is blocked at the base of the throat. Who is doing it? Is it the body, naturally, not wanting to have this pain? Is it I, employing old, historical responses to not wanting pain? The nervous system quivers with no control, the legs shake. A lot is going on with the body and the mind, even though there are hardly any words in the mind.

I start paying attention to one of the tensions and it calms down. I move to the next and this one calms down too. After I calm the whole body I leave the pain alone and sink into spaciousness. This is when I usually fall asleep. But this night I don’t. So I do the whole process again. Then again. I don’t know how many times. I am tired, but I do not feel bad. In fact I feel empowered. At 4:30 I am too awake. I go to the kitchen and make myself a cup of Ginger tea.

At 5 I do this drawing.

Connecting or disconnecting?

The paper is some rare French paper, which is sized heavily, and therefore does not absorb the water but let the pools stay wet until they dry as they are and all the pigments remain on the surface. Also, because the paper does not absorb the water and is quite textured, the lines become “eaten”, as if the space ate in tiny bites into the lines. This makes for “hungry” lines.

I lay the drawing on the table in front of me, still wet, and write what I observe.

The fire is underneath

Then there is space

Then comes a troubled collection of lines

That maybe is in the process

Of straightening out

Connecting with pieces on the left and the right

Or maybe disconnecting from them

To resolve itself

From being a bunch of conflicted forms

To become a feather in space

And then space itself.

Then I write in green what comes to me to say about every line.

The fire is underneaththis is the pain

Then there is spacecreated by observation

Then comes a troubled collection of linesthe embattled thought patterns of: Why? Don’t want it; it is too strong; I can learn to accept it; etc…

That maybe is in the process

Of straightening outsimplifying

Connecting with pieces on the left and the rightbeing a part of a bigger chain of connected events, enabling the deepening understanding of its origin.

Or maybe disconnecting from themby living in the moment

To resolve itselfin the field of awareness

From being a bunch of conflicted forms

To become a feather in spaceless overpowering, observable in peace

And then space itself.—to perfection, to freedom of choice.

Then I go to bed again, and after some periods of short sleep among long periods of shaking and tensing, followed by giving attention to all the tense places, all the painful places and to what is not the body but is.

At 6:40 I do another drawing of the pain.

Pain before breakfast

And another one, where, after delineating where the pain is (the green marker lines with red in them), I start to play:

Playing with pain



I used to be a graphic designer and an illustrator.  I became involved with the Chan Meditation Center and studied meditation and Buddhist knowledge with the late Master Sheng-yen from Taiwan. For twelve years I was in a process of deepening my meditation. I had many more experiences and insights and my life changed. After having illustrated more than 40 children’s books and writing two of them, I left this career too and went to New York University to study art therapy.

You can see more about Giora’s work on his blog and website




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