Noble Living, Noble Caring, Noble Dying

Addressing Chronic Pain with Moment to Moment Awareness

In this video presentation, Tsunma Jamyang Donma shares her advice on caring for those with chronic pain. Her observations are based upon her experience both with long-time meditation practice and her work as a Buddhist chaplain in a major urban hospital. 

She begins with the reminder to all caregivers that we are kind to ourselves and to the one suffering when we enter into a relationship with no expectation. Moreover, she advises people caring for others to try to create a safe space for potential experiences to unfold. In her presentation, she stresses the relationship between body and mind, and spirit. She addresses underlying trauma, habitual tendencies, tension patterns, and heightened alarm systems. When it comes to healing pain, she highlights a four-step process. 

The role of compassionate awareness is a skill we can all learn to practice, with ourselves and with others. She underlines the importance of asking kind questions and also of listening deeply. Her advice is that we respect the time and space that the answers to these questions may provoke. And again, she stresses the cardinal rule of never saying we are going to remove the sufferer’s pain. We can witness, acknowledge, but avoid any judgment. Her explanations in this presentation can help us to be kinder, more compassionate, listeners.

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Suggested Reading

Dudjom Rinpoche, The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, trans. and ed. by Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1991), vol. 1, pages 468–474.

Ngawang Zangpo, Guru Rinpoche: His Life and Times, Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2002.

Nyoshul Khenpo, A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage, trans. Richard Barron (Junction City: Padma Publishing, 2005), pages 41–48.

Padmasambhava, Legend of the Great Stupa, Berkeley: Dharma Publishing, 1973

Padmasambhava & Jamgön Kongtrul, The Light of Wisdom, trans. by Erik Pema Kunsang (Boudhanath: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1986-1999), pages 43-47 & Appendix 5.

Taranatha, The Life of Padmasambhava, Shang Shung Edizioni, 2005

Tulku Thondup, Masters of Meditation and Miracles, Shambhala, 1996.

Yeshe Tsogyal, Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava, translated by Kenneth Douglas and Gwendolyn Bays (Emeryville: Dharma Publishing, 1978, republished 2008).

Yeshe Tsogyal, Lotus Born: The Life Story of Padmasambhava, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2004.

‘The Life of Guru Padmasambhava’ in A Great Treasure of Blessings, The Tertön Sogyal Trust, 2004.