By Jim Leonard
Vivation is a self-directed, feeling-level process for improving the quality of life. Most of what has been written and taught about Vivation over the years has emphasized one aspect of its power – its ability to increase emotional harmony through integration of feelings into one’s sense of well-being. But Vivation is also a potent tool for coping with physical pain. For some people who suffer from medically intractable, chronic, physical pain, Vivation may be the most effective (and least expensive!) way to find relief. Furthermore, each of us has physical pain from time to time. Vivation can reduce the suffering that healthy people experience from sports injuries, hangovers, childbirth and the like.
How it works
Vivation works at the level of your subjective experience. Vivation does not purport to heal the physical cause of pain. Instead it transforms your experience of the pain, even while the cause is still there.
There is an essential difference between pain and suffering. Physical pain is a pattern of neurological activity. There are two kinds of physical pain: acute pain, when your body is alerting you to something that needs your attention, and chronic pain, a short circuit in the warning system that keeps the alarm blaring. Pain is objective. Suffering, in contrast, is the subjective sense that your experience is bad, that you’d be better off if things were different.
Your subjective sense of well-being does not depend on what is happening objectively in your body or your life. People often suffer when there is nothing wrong at all, simply because they imagine (consciously or subconsciously) that things should be better. Even if you are experiencing physical pleasure, if you are not at peace with it, you suffer. Surrender can remove suffering from any experience – even the experience of painful death, as is widely reported by both observers of the dying and those who have had near death experiences. If you make complete peace with anything, including any physical sensation, then you no longer suffer from it. Vivation provides skillful means for making peace with any experience you have. The result is not only immediate reduction of suffering but also a greater receptivity to all the good things of life and an enhanced resourcefulness for solving problems and achieving excellence.
The result of focusing on something you feel and making peace with it is called “integration”. Integration of an emotion results in having a positive emotion about something you previously had a negative emotion about. Integration of physical pain means that, even if the sensation is unchanged, the pain no longer limits your ability to enjoy the present moment.
When you Vive, you generate intense Love Energy and pour it continuously into the sensation or emotion you wish to integrate. Your Vivation Professional teaches you how to create this Love Energy strongly, reliably and persistently and how to direct it into the exact areas of your body and psyche that need it most. In one moment the physical pain itself might be what needs your Love the most. A moment later, the frustration or fear associated with the pain might be more intense than the pain itself. You simply focus your Love Energy on whichever feeling is strongest in the present moment, monitoring closely any subtle changes in what you feel. You do this in a relaxed, non-controlling way (the only way to generate the Love Energy). Steadfastly pouring Love into something that has been bothering you causes a massive transformation in your subjective experience. This transformation, this integration, neither depends upon, nor necessarily produces, any physical change.
Vivation is a skill. You learn the skill from a Vivation Professional and then, with or without assistance, you apply the skill within yourself. The results you achieve depend on how skillfully you Vive. In some cases a single Vivation session may integrate pain permanently. In other cases, a session may give partial relief, or it may give complete relief that lasts for hours or days. Practice makes perfect. You can learn Vivation quickly and inexpensively, then use it as much as you want.
I have generally found that people with chronic pain learn Vivation easily. This is because most people who have chronic pain experience times when the pain is so overwhelming that they have no choice but to surrender to it. And they find a paradoxical relief in the surrendering. For this reason, teaching these people a skill of surrendering is easy.
Tips on Applying Vivation to Physical Pain
Although Vivation is actually one single skill, we describe it in terms of Five Elements. The Five Elements are applied simultaneously to produce the result. Here are the most important things to know about applying each of The Five Elements to pain:
The First Element, Circular Breathing, moves life force energy through your body in waves, which you can readily feel as a pleasurable tingle. In combination with the other Elements, you use these waves of energy to massage your entire being with Love. In applying the First Element to physical pain, it is particularly helpful to match the breathing rhythm to the sensation. This usually means a faster and shallower breathing rhythm while the pain is intense. Circular Breathing always produces better results when you imagine that you are pulling each inhale into your body directly through the strongest feeling.
The Second Element, Complete Relaxation, is very important in integrating pain, because tension and resistance make pain worse. Relaxation allows us to take the pain one moment at a time. Relaxation also allows the Love Energy to circulate freely. When dealing with pain, Vivers usually do better lying down.
The Third Element, Awareness in Detail, is essential both in generating the Love Energy and in directing it to where it is needed most. Focus on the exact sensation that is strongest in the present moment. Explore its every nuance and especially the subtle changes that happen from moment to moment. If your mind wanders, bring your attention back to focusing on the sensation. In life and in Vivation, if you voluntarily give your attention to something that is calling out to you, it may not have to call out so urgently. Continuously explore the emotions you have about the pain, too.
The Fourth Element, Integration into Ecstasy, means making peace with what you’re feeling. You change from a negative perspective, in which reality is compared to an imaginary standard, “how it should be,” to a positive one in which you accept reality exactly as it is. This unconditional acceptance is what puts the Love in the Love Energy. Some ways of making this shift can be stated in words and are called “Fourth Element Techniques”. I have identified more than 100 Fourth Element Techniques. Here are a few of the best ones for dealing with physical pain:
“Notice that what you are experiencing is not infinitely bad. Be grateful it’s as good as it is.” No matter how bad anything is, you can always be grateful it’s not worse. When you’re already focusing on how bad something is, it’s often easier to focus first on gratitude that its not even worse, then focus on gratitude that it’s as good as it is.
“Compare it only to itself.” A stubbed toe only causes suffering if you compare it to how it feels when it’s “unstubbed”. Compared only to itself, it simply has sharp, throbbing sensations that need not detract from the fundamental pleasure of being alive.
“Be open to enjoying it in an unusual way.” Life is a miracle that can be enjoyed in infinite variations. Most of us needlessly limit the scope of what we allow ourselves to enjoy. Many “painful” sensations can be enjoyed easily if we stop insisting on only enjoying “pleasurable” ones.
“Expand your compassion for all people who experience similar things.” Having pain increases your compassion for others who experience pain. Focusing on your compassion for others will greatly assist you in integrating your own feelings.
“Give all parts of yourself unconditional love.” When part of your body is hurting, it is especially asking for your love right then. Cursing your head when it hurts will only make it hurt more. Instead focus on giving it love, just the way you would give love and comfort to a crying child.
“Surrender to the fact that it is the way it is whether you like it or not.” This is sort of like saying to yourself, “What I am experiencing really is horrible, but it just is the way it is whether I like it or not.” This doesn’t sound very positive, and yet it does work to cause integration. You just give up resistance to the feeling.
The Fifth Element, Do Whatever You Do – Willingness is Enough, means that you keep focusing on your willingness to have a positive outcome somehow, even if you can’t imagine how there could be one. Bear in mind throughout the session that this willingness is far more important than doing the technique correctly.
The Three Points to Remember, the most modern, powerful way of applying the skills of Vivation, were originally created to help people integrate pain. They make staying in all Five Elements easier.
Application of Vivation to physical pain is an important, exciting aspect of this work, with great potential for serving humanity. I invite questions, comments and suggestions from Vivation Professionals, researchers and the interested public.
Jim Leonard was the originator of the Vivation process. During his life he conducted more than 45,000 Vivation sessions in 22 countries.