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On a retreat, I noticed that back pain was getting worse day after day. At the end of the 3rd day, I…
April 26th, 2012 (February 6th, 2016)
On a retreat, I noticed that back pain was getting worse day after day. At the end of the 3rd day, I took some pain-killer out of trying to keep pain "manageable," with no observable difference whatsoever. On a 4th day, it was simply excruciating.
Being on a Zen retreat, it was the perfect opportunity to practice insight meditation and ask myself the question "What is this?"

Noticing that the pain was in the upper back rather than the lower back, I quickly knew something was wrong with my posture... so I tried leaning left, right, forward... only for the pain to subside for 5 seconds then come back as bad as before.
Working on un-grasping, it was then easy to assess that my ego was fighting back, resisting and finding a physical expression to prevent me from meditating, cultivating change, being here and now... But, despite I knew there is no Self as such, and despite I'm quite used to force my way through such sort of resistance or fear, my will seemed completely powerless in that particular situation. No amount of willingness to go through the pain was getting me through.

As always in such situation, once the mind has exhausted his little theories and stories to make sense out of an experience, and in full-blown despair, it just stops and abandons trying to figure "it" out, it just finally is quiet and it observes things "as they are."
Abandoning the idea of "fixing" the pain, I just relaxed, not even pretending to sit straight for the rest of that seating period. The pain almost completely vanished within 10 seconds.
At that point, I had a multi-layered insight:
- I was now leaning backward, way too much, almost ridiculously, but that informed me that this was what was wrong in the posture until then: it seemed I was used to lean slightly forward, not much at all, but enough for the muscles to have to pull back my head and keep it from nodding. Such muscle work was imperceptible and not a problem when meditating an hour here and there, but was a strain when meditating for hours on end... Logic and anatomy was enough to figure that one out!
- Although I had consciously tried to adjust my position in all possible ways, I had visibly constantly reverted to the bad habit, or adjusted everything else except the bad habit. No amount of consciously trying to change had led to actual change!
- There is no Self! I had made this whole theory of a "Self" resisting, and such "Self" definitely had felt very solid, grounded, strong... but all there was was a bad habit! There was no "Self" resisting! It definitely felt present but was a complete illusion, a story I had made up, a pointless theory easily preventing me from actually seeing what was going on!
[read the conclusion: gplus.wallez.name/P1un9jFoKvS]