The Thorn in the Lion’s Paw

 In Stress Reduction, The East Texas Stress Reduction Clinic

A Lion, very early in life gets a thorn in it’s paw. The pain is so excruciating that the king of the beasts begins using only three of its legs and stays completely off the offending paw. It very quickly adapts to avoiding the pain and operating from a limited capacity.


What we are encouraging the Lion in you to do is to have the courage to stop and actually take a look. Where is the pain? It’s not in the shoulder, it’s not in the upper leg, it’s not in the joint or the lower leg. it ‘s not in the toes or claws. It’s in the paw, there it is. The pain is real.

Saki Santorelli, the Director of the Center for Mindfulness in his book “Heal Thyself” is quoted as saying “Keep looking at the pain, that is where the light comes from”. Sometimes by actually looking and locating the reality of the pain we learn enough to remove the thorn. Sometimes it means changing our environment (changing the cage). Sometimes it simply is not something that we can change, but by looking closely at where the actual pain is, we gain new¬†movement and ability to hold the pain in a new and different way. A new way of being emerges.

Bob Stahl, long term mindfulness instructor uses the metaphor of steering into the skid. When there is ice on the road and you are driving a rear wheel drive vehicle and the steering starts to skid if you avoid and turn away you are likely to spin out. The recommended course of action is to turn into the skid thereby making contact with the friction and regaining control. Freedom from suffering by holding it in a new and different way when often the old way is a story in our heads.


Mindfulness means we are paying attention on purpose without judgement to the reality that actually is, not the story in our heads.


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