Thich Quang Duc
Case Study, Pain

As The Buddhist Monk Burned He Never Moved A Muscle, Never Uttered A Sound! And why It Can Help You Control Pain!

Yes! you did hear me right, as a protest to the way the government was treating the Buddhist religion!

Thích Quảng Đức sat down in the middle of the road on a cushion that had been placed on the road by two other Monks.

Then! To everyone’s amazement, the two monks poured petrol over Thích Quảng Đức head and set him alight.

Now if that was you or me or anyone else, we’d rolling around in agony and experiencing pain beyond belief!

But! He never moved a muscle, never uttered a sound, but in contrast to those around him who were sobbing and crying and in total shock!

I can hear you saying, “Mark have you completely gone completely mad” I have only got a bad back!

Now, of course, I do not expect you to go and sit on your driveway or road and set yourself on fire to prove you can block out pain.

But what I would say, there are a many ways you can learn from Thích Quảng Đức control of massive amount of pain and discomfort.

Below are a few of my personal photos of the location and memorial for Thích Quảng Đức.
Thich Quang Duc
Thich Quang Duc
Thich Quang Duc

What you are going to learn from this post

  1. How Thích Quảng Đức managed his discomfort whilst on fire.
  2. Discover how you can control your pain and discomfort like Thích Quảng Đức.

How Thích Quảng Đức managed his discomfort whilst on fire.

The first thing to say here is that a lot of people feel they know how this monk managed the pain.

I will share the pain management techniques they believe Thích Quảng Đức used.

In my opinion, all the techniques are possible but one is much more likely than any of the others because of the sources closeness to Thích Quảng Đức.

The first suggestion is from a question answered on Reddit:

There are schools of meditation that teach that there is a difference between pain and suffering. Pain is what you feel, but suffering is in your reaction to the pain. If instead of having a strong, negative reaction to the pain, you simply accept it, you can experience pain without suffering. “Simply accepting” in general is easier said than done.
Source: Corysama Reddit User

Now… I feel Corysama has some really good points here. Pain and suffering are very different as Haruki Murakami explains in his famous quote “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”

This is extended upon by Shinzen Young in his book ‘Break Through Pain’ who shares his philosophy of suffering and pain with an equation.

So… What is The Pain Equation and how can it help with pain?

Simply put it states that suffering is equal to Pain times Resistance ( S=PxR ).

To suffer we need to 2 things; Pain and Resistance.

So let’s say Thích Quảng Đức didn’t resist the pain and just accept the discomfort, meaning the resistance is low or even at zero.

What would his amount of suffering have?

According to The Pain Equation zero as well. Even if his pain was 100 the suffering will be zero, leaving him with just the sensation of discomfort to deal with.

The next answer was from a Quora user
This act is obviously not beyond the range of human endurance as he, a human being, could do it. How was he able to accomplish this feat? Three words: motivation, detachment and dhyana.
Source: Flavio Costa Quora User

Motivation describes Motivation as providing a reason to act in a certain way.

Thích Quảng Đức motivation was religious freedom from persecution and oppression from the Catholic Vietnamese president Diem is clearly documented in a letter he left before this act of self-immolation(killing oneself as a sacrifice):

Before closing my eyes and moving towards the vision of the Buddha, I respectfully plead to President Ngo Dinh Diem to take a mind of compassion towards the people of the nation and implement religious equality to maintain the strength of the homeland eternally. I call the venerables, reverends, members of the sangha and the lay Buddhists to organize in solidarity to make sacrifices to protect Buddhism.

A little like the non-resistance we discussed earlier, detachment required Thích Quảng Đức to observe and let any feelings and sensations fulfil their purpose of being felt.

The Monk, I expect, did this by having a deep understanding of impermanence(nothing lasts), much like the saying ‘this too shall pass’ that states everything will end so there is no need to be attached.

Thích Quảng Đức, unlike the people watching, had overcome The six root unwholesome factors (mūlakleśa) of:

  1. Raga – attachment
  2. Pratigha – anger
  3. Avidya – ignorance
  4. Māna – pride, conceit
  5. Vicikitsa – doubt
  6. Dṛiṣṭi – wrong view


Dhyana is a deep understanding and practise of meditation where the practitioner attains, when at a high level, a perfect equanimity(calmness and composure, especially in a difficult situation) and awareness, presumably like Thích Quảng Đức.

Originally the practice of dhyana itself may have constituted the core liberating practice of early Buddhism, since in this state all “pleasure and pain” had waned.
Source: Quora

The Fourth Jhāna (Dhyana) states — “The other half of bliss (happiness) disappears, leading to a state with neither pleasure nor pain, which the Buddha said is actually a subtle form of happiness (more sublime than pīti and sukha). The breath is said to cease temporarily in this state. The remaining qualities are: “a feeling of equanimity, neither pleasure nor pain; an unconcern due to serenity of awareness; unification of mind, contact, feeling, perception, intention, consciousness, desire, decision, persistence, mindfulness, equanimity & attention”

The Final View come from one of Thích Quảng Đức’s friends
Thich Nhat Hanh is now one of the world’s most well-known Zen Buddhists and interestingly, lived with Thích Quảng Đức at Long-Vinh Pagoda for around 12 months.

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Hanh described Đức to be ‘A very kind and lucid person, and that he was calm and in full possession of his mental faculties when he burned himself.’

In a very interesting letter to Matin Luther King, Thich Nhat Hanh helps us understand how Thích Quảng Đức managed the discomfort of burning alive.

Here is the letter for you to read, it is very moving to me and help me understand the mental and mind required to withstand so much pain.

The self-burning of Vietnamese Buddhist monks in 1963 is somehow difficult for the Western Christian conscience to understand. The Press spoke then of suicide, but in the essence, it is not. It is not even a protest. What the monks said in the letters they left before burning themselves aimed only at alarming, at moving the hearts of the oppressors and at calling the attention of the world to the suffering endured then by the Vietnamese. To burn oneself by fire is to prove that what one is saying is of the utmost importance. There is nothing more painful than burning oneself. To say something while experiencing this kind of pain is to say it with the utmost of courage, frankness, determination and sincerity. During the ceremony of ordination, as practiced in the Mahayana tradition, the monk-candidate is required to burn one, or more, small spots on his body in taking the vow to observe the 250 rules of a bhikshu, to live the life of a monk, to attain enlightenment and to devote his life to the salvation of all beings. One can, of course, say these things while sitting in a comfortable armchair; but when the words are uttered while kneeling before the community of sangha and experiencing this kind of pain, they will express all the seriousness of one’s heart and mind, and carry much greater weight.

The Vietnamese monk, by burning himself, say with all his strength and determination that he can endure the greatest of sufferings to protect his people. But why does he have to burn himself to death? The difference between burning oneself and burning oneself to death is only a difference in degree, not in nature. A man who burns himself too much must die. The importance is not to take one’s life, but to burn. What he really aims at is the expression of his will and determination, not death. In the Buddhist belief, life is not confined to a period of 60 or 80 or 100 years: life is eternal. Life is not confined to this body: life is universal. To express will by burning oneself, therefore, is not to commit an act of destruction but to perform an act of construction, i.e., to suffer and to die for the sake of one’s people.
Source: Sid Kemp – Quora User

The main points I take from this letter (see full copy here) are:

  • Thích Quảng Đức saw the situation in a different perspective, not as suicide but as way to reduce suffering for others.
  • He had not only practiced with the mind he had also prepared with the burning and discomfort
  • Determination and will were key to managing the pain.
  • Acceptance and being in the moment was very important. The purpose was to burn, not die.

Discover how you can control your pain and discomfort like Thích Quảng Đức.

For me the 5 key messages to take are:

  1. Accepting the discomfort
  2. Non-Resistance
  3. Be in the moment with no expectations
  4. Feel the discomfort and pain
  5. Determination to become more comfortable

By accepting and not resisting, just like the monk, we can let the feelings and sensations of discomfort flow.

With acceptance, we will not attempt to change how the moment is causing stress and tension stopping the feeling and sensation moving through us.

Be in the moment with complete acceptance and non-resistance as you truly are.

But Mark, you may say, I don’t know who I truly am yet.

Let me share a meditation and visualisation I discovered which have helped me understand a little bit more about how Thích Quảng Đức may have managed his discomfort and most importantly a technique you can use to help you manage your pain too.

It starts with developing and finding our observer to become aware. This first part of this Psychosynthesis Exercise will help us discover our awareness.

So here goes:

Stage 1

  1. Sit quietly and comfortably. Look around you and become aware of all that you see.
    See it in all its detail, as clearly and as vividly as possible. Take a few moments to do
    this…. Now close your eyes, and breathe in slowly. As you inhale, take in this vivid,
    visual awareness. Then exhale and, as you do so, ask yourself “WHO IS
  2. With your eyes closed, imagine that you are drawing a white circle with chalk on a
    blackboard. Look at the circle…be aware of it…(pause)…Then take a deep breath,
    and as you exhale, ask yourself “WHO IS AWARE?”
  3. Still with your eyes closed, imagine that you are drawing a white circle with chalk on
    A blackboard. Look at the circle…be aware of it…(pause)…Then take a deep breath,
    and as you exhale, ask yourself “WHO IS AWARE?”
  4. Now let the circle fade away and, breathing rhythmically in and out as you have been doing, stay with the awareness of yourself as the one who is aware…. (pause)…
    Really experience being yourself…Try to get as clear a sense as possible of this
    Experience. Take all the time you need to do this.


So we now know how to find our awareness and observe the next stage and part will help discover who we truly are:

Stage 2

  1. Again sit quietly and comfortably. Look around you and become aware of what
    you see in all its detail, as clearly and as vividly as possible. Now close your
    eyes, and breathe in slowly. As you inhale, take in the awareness. Then exhale
    and, as you do so, ask yourself “WHO IS AWARE?”
  2. With your eyes closed, become aware of what you hear. Listen to the sounds, or
    to the silence around you…(pause)… Now, take a deep breath, and as you exhale
    slowly, ask yourself “WHO IS AWARE?”
  3. Still with your eyes closed, imagine that once again you are drawing a white
    circle with chalk on a blackboard. Look at the circle…be aware of it…(pause)…
    Then take a deep breath, and as you exhale, ask yourself “WHO IS AWARE?”
  4. Let the circle fade away and, breathing rhythmically in and out, stay with the
    awareness of yourself as the one who is aware. Really experience being yourself. Take some time to do this.
  5. Now try to get as clear a sense as possible for what it is like to be yourself…Try
    To become aware of the stability of the self, its permanency. Try to experience it
    as the stable state of consciousness that is always reliably there. You will find
    that while all else changes, it remains. It is available always, as a source of
    stability and of clear perception in the midst of change.
  6. With the awareness of being your unchanging self, turn your attention to your
    body…(pause)… Your body changes. The sensations of your body are different
    now than they were a few moments ago…and they will be different again a few
    moments from now. Your body itself is different now than it was when you were
    a child, and it keeps changing as you grow older. But yourself does not change.
  7. Now, focus once again on the awareness of being yourself, the one who is aware.
    And as that unchanging self, become aware of your feelings…(pause)… Your
    feelings also are changing all the time…even the depth with which you feel
    changes. But yourself does not change.
  8. Focus once again on being yourself, the one who is aware. And as that
    unchanging self, become aware of your mind…Your thoughts change with great
    rapidity. They jump from one idea to another…and, as you grow, you use
    different ways of thinking. But yourself, your true nature, does not change.
  9. Focus once again on being yourself. Then become aware of your body, your
    feelings, and your mind. Be aware that you have these three aspects…they are
    yours…they are your valuable means of expression in the world, and you have the
    capacity to direct and regulate them at will. But they are not you. You are yourself, the one who is aware…


What this exercise teaches us is how we can observe and watch the ever changing sensations of our discomfort moving through our body.

I imagine this is how Thích Quảng Đức on a much higher level managed any discomfort, by observing the subtle changes in the sensations.

What we must do is commit and become determined to develop our skills in observing and we too will be able to have more control over any discomfort that comes into our life.

What we have learned in this post:

    • Thích Quảng Đức practised to learn how to manage the discomfort.
    • He had the perspective of that he can learn from the pain and help others.
    • We can learn to observe and not to attach to the sensation of discomfort.
    • Resistance causes suffering. If we accept the situation and let it flow we are left only with the sensation of discomfort which we can observe and change with mental techniques.
    • We can manage our pain by choosing the right behaviours but we must have the motivation and really want to do it.

I hope you found this post helpful and if you have any comments or would like to extend upon what point raised please do comment below or get in touch.

Healing, Pain

Power of Hope and Prayer In Improving Toothache Pain

The power of hope and prayer in improving toothache pain perhaps is more powerful than we first thought.

In an earlier post we discussed that the difference between hope and wishing and concluded that hope is where we take action in some way.

In Kathmandu, Nepal there is a very interesting way that some people use to hope their toothache pain away. It is called the Toothache Tree.

Nailing a coin to this holy stump is just another way to ask the gods for relief from dental pain.

The action of nailing a coin is a form of action that leads to an expectation of pain relief and as we discovered in an earlier post

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This expectancy has some interesting results as these Trip Advisor comments state:

“It works!”
Touch the coins nailed into the tree and your toothache will disappear.

“Strange belief ”
Vaisha Dev (toothache tree) is a small lump of a tree with lots of coins fixed on it. There is a strange belief that if you have any pain in the tooth. You go fix a coin your pain will go. It is no doubt very strange but people do it. I saw so many people came and touched it and prayed for some time and then left.

Belief is very powerful and if linked to Expectancy and Desire as shared by the Silva Method our mind can really achieve feats.

We also know that the power of belief and placebo can create healing and pain reduction as the many examples in my book Your Body, Only Better share.

But as mentioned before, hypnosis is probably the best mind-body technique for dental pain control which is why many dental practitioners still use it as a form of anaesthesia as this video below demonstrates:

Thank you for reading and if you have any comments about this post or topics you would like me to discuss in future posts please do get in touch.

Take care

Further Reading:


Another Great Mind Power Technique for Reducing Pain

In the last post I promised to share another great mind power technique for reducing pain and here it is.

It is called Noesitherapy.

Dr Angel Escudero has performed many operations without any anaesthesia other than his self-developed Noesitherapy.

A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to learn more about this technique and try it out for myself. We started by watching a similar video to this:

The video, from a BBC documentary, shows a lady having an operation with only Noesitherapy as pain control, it is truly amazing, Dr Escudero also shares how simple it is to use his method. You also see Dr Escudero demonstrating Noesitherapy to a businessman who is truly shocked at how easy this technique is to use.

I have had the opportunity to practice Noesitherapy on quite a few people now, the one that always stays in my mind is when a friend of mine who was blown away at how successful this technique was after just a couple of minutes tuition.

So how is it done? It is surprisingly simple and with a little practice, you can be good at it too. (Watch the video for more information)

The Noesitherapy Technique

  1. Fill your mouth with Saliva
  2. Clearly state “My (Name Body Part) is completely psychologically anesthetized” and repeat this three times

You can see this in the video if you want to check it out further.

Following on from Noesitherapy, Hypnoesitherapy has been developed which is similar but involves relaxation and an interaction and discussion with the therapist too. When I tested this technique again today it produced equally astounding results.

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I for one am a convert, even though it sounded and still does sounds to be too good to be true, don’t knock this until you have tried it!

To learn more you can read a freely available book by Dr Escudero – Healing by Thinking by Dr Escudero

What is the best mind power technique to reduce pain?

What is the best mind power technique to reduce pain?

So here is the question. What is the best mind power technique to reduce pain and discomfort? This is a slightly loaded question because it implies there are others to compare the winner against but that will be for another day.

According to this National Geographic Channel video below hypnosis is the most amazing technique at managing pain. They even show it being used as the only form of anaesthesia and pain management for dental work.

Hypnosis is also used for full operations and has the added bonus of not having side effects and the patient recovering faster than with chemical anaesthesia. It is even used to help with childbirth, known as HypnoBirthing.

Here are some quotes about hypnosis and pain relief to get us thinking:

There is solid science behind what sounds like mysticism and we need to get that message across to the bodies that influence this area. Hypnosis has no negative side-effects. It makes operations quicker, as the patient is able to talk to the surgeon as the operation proceeds, and it is cheaper than conventional pain relief. Since it does not interfere with the workings of the body, the patient recovers faster, too.

There are many cases where, for one reason or another, traditional chemical anesthesia is contraindicated. In these instances, Hypnotic Anesthesia may well be the answer.

Some of the benefits include lower patient preoperative anxiety, fewer post-surgical complications, less bleeding during surgery and faster recovery time.
Lisa Machenberg, Certified Hypnotherapist (Source:

The midwife offered me some gas and air but it made me feel dizzy and unable to focus, so I stopped. I really felt the HypnoBirthing techniques were all I needed. By controlling my breathing I was able to concentrate on what my body was telling me to do. It felt very natural.

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When her son Leo was born 14 months ago, following a relatively pain and stress-free labour, Emma is convinced hypnobirthing is most certainly ‘the other way’.

It is time for hypnosis to work its way into the mainstream of British medicine,” Spiegel will say at the joint conference of the Royal Society of Medicine, the British Society of Clinical and Academic Hypnosis and the British Society of Medical and Dental Hypnosis.

The pain of such an operation is intolerable if you are fully awake. Only hypnosis enables you to stand it,” he was reported as saying by to French publication Le Figaro.
“She went into a trance listening to the words of the hypnotist. She went a long way away, to Africa. And she began to sing – it was amazing,”

Felicity Lamb, 27, is mum to Bernie, nine months. She practised HypnoBirthing techniques throughout her pregnancy and successfully used them to manage her pain in labour.

The best summary of what hypnosis for pain relief can be like is written by Dr Lang in her book Patient Sedation Without Medication.

You might say, “Would you like to go on a journey? You know your body has to be here, but you don’t. Is there a place you always wanted to go? You even don’t need to pack. If you want, we can go there right now.”
Source: Patient Sedation Without Medication

My favourite line from the quote above is ‘but you don’t’ that states although our body has to be in the room our mind can be elsewhere. This technique uses Distraction and Dissociation from Eimer and Freemans (1988) six D’s of pain management to take our awareness of body sensations, like pain, away.

I hope, like me, you see how powerful hypnosis is at reducing pain and discomfort. In the next post, I will share another, much rarer, but very powerful way to control pain and discomfort that is also used for operations.

Until next week take care.

Further Reading:

I Will Get Better
Healing, Pain, Recovery

I will get better!

Stating your intention that ‘I will get better!” is a strong affirmation of recovery from a disease, pain or illness.

As Ayn Rand said:

“It isn’t who is going to let me it is who is going to stop me”

Having the intention to recover and overcome gives us purpose.

Auto-suggestion, a form of self Hypnosis, suggests we say to ourselves as often as we can:

“Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better”

This saying will fully focus our subconscious mind on helping our body better.

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Being 100% responsible for our recovery, in my opinion, is one of the best ways to help ourselves because it enables us to orchestrate the best behaviours for the best possible chance of recovery.

We all know we are going to pass somewhen. But whilst we are alive we can always hope for the best outcome from whatever current situation we find ourselves in. As Thich Nhat Hanh said:

“Because you are alive, everything is possible.”

Healing, Pain

How your mind can help you recover.

Here is a quick story to show you how your mind can help you recover.

For several weeks Tom had been having uncomfortable sensations in his chest resulting in a persistent cough and a difficulty in getting his breath. His doctor was concerned and prescribed him the usual drugs for this condition, however, none of them helped reduce the symptoms. Tom could still work, with a little help, but felt annoyed and tired.

After some time the GP referred him to the relevant specialist who admitted Tom to the hospital for a variety of different tests and procedures. After a few days he was discharged and went back to his day to day life with the symptoms unchanged, whilst awaiting the results.

After several days Tom was diagnosed with a fast-growing Cancer which the Consultant predicted would result in Tom having around a month or two to live.

Within a couple of days, Tom took a turn for the worse. He was now bed bound and work became impossible for him. He lost weight and needed constant nursing. The consultants prediction looked about right and Tom would indeed pass in the suggested timescale.

A second phone call from the hospital was about to change everything for Tom and his family. The very apologetic voice explained how the hospital had made a mistake. There had been a mix-up. Tom did not have cancer, he had an infection which could be treated with special drugs. Within a day Tom was up and about living his life, back at work, eating and walking. Interestingly he still had the chest symptoms but was now not dying.

This story was shared by Dr Vernon Coleman in his book Mind Over Body.

To me, this story clearly demonstrates the power of the mind and belief in aiding recovery and healing. It suggests that on occasions we behave the way think we should behave, rather than basing our behaviour on how we actually are feeling. Another point raised here is one that I feel very strongly about and that is doctors not stating how long they think a patient has to live. The Doctor knows a vast amount about the physical human body, but in my opinion not enough about an individual’s mind, beliefs, will and behaviours to accurately guess how long a patient has to live. Added to this the influence a professionals words has over an individual, especially one most likely in shock, their suggestion can become a lot like the self-fulfilling prophecy of a witch doctor. Dr Coleman puts it like this:

We think it is bizarre that there are people living in Africa or the West Indies who can be so terrified by a threat from a witch-doctor that they will go home and quietly die. Yet the only difference is that our witch-doctors wear white coats and stethoscopes instead of grass skirts and hideous masks. The Plain truth is that there is nothing in the world which has such a far-reaching effect on your health as your mind. The way you respond to stress, pressure and worry will determine the condition of you heart, circulatory system, stomach, respiratory system and every other organ and tissue in your body. It is your state of mind which determines what diseases you will develop and how long you will live.

It just goes to show how our beliefs can affect our body. We as humans are truly amazing beings and have much more control over our health than we ever thought possible.

Further Reading

Healing, Pain, Recovery

Can I stop my suffering?

First of all, I wish you freedom from any suffering you are experiencing.

You may say is it really possible for me not to suffer. Can I stop my suffering? I would say you most definitely can and there are others who know it too and a couple who even explain how!

The first is Haruki Murakami whose quote seems to always appear on posts about suffering, and this one is no different, so here it is, but in full:

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Say you’re running and you think, ‘Man, this hurts, I can’t take it anymore. The ‘hurt’ part is an unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand anymore is up to the runner himself”

How I interpret this is that pain is the sensation of hurt. The suffering is our negative reaction to it. Our point of control over is that we can choose how we react and therefore reduce or remove our suffering altogether.

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So how can we remove suffering? Shinzen Young, a Zen Monk and Author of Break Through Pain, has a really clear and simple formula which is: S=PxR.

Suffering = Pain x Resistance.

Which means that if we do not resist our situation, and accept it just as it is, we will not suffer and just have the sensation of hurt which is much less than having the pain and suffering.

So acceptance is key to overcoming suffering and leaving us with the pain or illness for us to manage in whatever way we choose. As Allan Lokos so eloquently puts it:

“Suffering usually relates to want wanting things to be different from the way they are”

So why not practice accepting each situation exactly as it is thus enabling us to focus fully on our recovery from a position of where we are in this moment.

Thank you for reading this post. Please comment below if you have any questions, views or opinions that you would like to share.

Take care

Further Reading:

Overcoming Doubt
Healing, Pain

3 mental techniques to help you overcome doubt

Sometimes when we take full responsibility for our recovery from illness and discomfort we can wonder if we can really do it. In this post, I will share 3 mental techniques to help you overcome doubt.

It is ok to doubt ourselves and question if what we are doing is right from time to time. It can help keep us on the correct track. What we thought and believed last week may have changed, so checking every so often is a good thing.

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But doubt does not mean that we should hope and aim for our recovery because as the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh says:

Because you are alive anything is possible

Let me share my interpretation of this quote. We do not know enough to predict any future outcome. We don’t know enough information. Whatever situation we are in at this exact moment there is exactly the same possibility of the worst case scenario or the best case scenario happening.

There are many examples of people spontaneously recovering from various diseases, which I will discuss in a future post. So anything is really possible.

When in doubt we can hope and do everything in our power to give ourselves the highest possibility of achieving the best case scenario. We can do this by, in each moment, selecting the behaviour that is most likely going to take us towards our goal.

The 3 mental techniques which will help us focus towards our goal and help remove doubt are:


Have a burning desire to make it happen, as Ayn Rand states:

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”
Ayn Rand


Have a strong belief that the goal is possible and within reach. We know because in each moment there are a million possibilities and our recovery is one of those possibilities. So let’s believe in and focus on this favoured outcome.


We have to expect an outcome so why not expect the outcome of recovery. Expectancy is like hope but more with the added focus from the Desire and Belief.

I hope this post helped remove any doubt you may have around your recovery. And remember whilst we are alive anything is possible.

Overcoming Discomfort

Why overcoming discomfort is possible.

It is a question we do not ask ourselves when we are experiencing pain. Why overcoming discomfort is possible. If we do, prior to our next bout of pain we may well be able to reduce or remove the uncomfortable sensation we call pain.

Let’s first look at examples of where people overcome discomfort in life to help us learn from them to see if we can apply it to our life.

First a boxer or MMA fighter. They train themselves to, as much as possible, take a punch. When asked how they do it one fighter explained it like this:

So, how can you deal with [pain] better? How do fighters deal with it? Fighters have all been hit before. They know that it’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t shock them. Therefore, they keep their mind from panicking. And that stops the feedback loop [I mentioned above]. It means they can remain in control mentally, which allows them to make quick, intelligent decisions immediately after getting hit. They can avoid further damage and hold off their opponent long enough for the automatic physical reactions (such as eye watering and the inability to focus) to wear off.

From the boxer or MMA fighter, we can learn to prepare and plan for our discomfort to ensure whilst experiencing the pain we make the best choices. We also know that the intensity of discomfort changes and does not always stay the same.

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Another group of people are Ballerinas, believe it or not, how do they overcome the discomfort of their feet being battered in pursuit of their career.

What about the pain dancers have to endure? She is avoiding the operation she needs on her knee because it would stop her dancing for six months. “To concentrate constantly on the fact that we’re in pain is wrong…
…We’re not masochists. We don’t enjoy the pain. It’s not some kind of religious ritual. You do not and should not think you have to suffer for the art.

What this Tamara Rojo: Principal ballerina with the Royal Ballet teaches us is that if we can learn to see any pain and discomfort as just a part of our lives and not our life defining description we can overcome the suffering and make the pain more bearable.

Then, of course, we have the armed forces who put themselves through a lot of difficult situation and discomfort. On my sister blog, I wrote an interesting article about a really cool deep breathing technique used by the Navy SEALs to help them manage their pain.

Deep breathing regulates the physiological fight/flight response that we experience when we are stressed.
Source –

What this shares with us is that by breathing deeply we can relieve our stress and tension. My belief is that tension is like a traffic jam for the pain meaning it takes longer to be felt. If we breathe and relax we enable any sensation to be felt quicker, leading us to comfort more quickly.

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Wishing or Hoping

Hoping or Wishing the Pain will go away

There is a difference and by the end of this post you will know if you are hoping or wishing the pain will go away and know what you can do to positively manage your discomfort.

In his book, Love, Medicine and Miracles, Bernie Siegel shares his views on the differences, which goes something like this:

Wishing = Doing nothing

Hoping = Doing something

I wish my pain will go away means that we really want the discomfort to disappear but if we are being really honest with ourselves we are not taking any action. Hoping, on the other hand, demonstrates that we have plans and will use strategies to overcome our pain.

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So now we can ask ourselves, How do we hope to reduce our pain and discomfort? What behaviours can I change? What mind-body techniques can I use?

From this point on we can take total responsibility for our recovery, because nobody else cares as much about our recovery as ourself. Doctors care for us whilst we are in the room, after which they have another patient to care for & a life of their own with its own issues. This is the same for anybody else in our life, however, close to us. This isn’t sad to me but empowering because we all have so many options open to us to achieve our goals, be it signing up to a course, trying a new technique, reading a book, changing our perspective, choosing a new behaviour and the list goes on.

So let’s hope we recover from or reduce our discomfort.