This can be done with emotional pain too.
One night when I was still new to meditation, I lay awake for hours in agony from a badly sprained ankle. Finally I decided to see what would happen if I meditated with the pain as my object. The result astounded me.
I recalled a teacher’s suggestion: “Get curious about your experience.” I had never before stayed with pain long enough to be curious about it, much less to investigate it. Whenever my knees or back hurt during meditation, I escaped into counting breaths or repeating my koan. I might notice when the pain stopped, but I noticed nothing of its nature. Was it burning, stabbing, throbbing, dull? Was it steady or intermittent? Were my muscles clenched or relaxed? What thoughts did the pain trigger?
Lying in the dark that night, I greeted the pain as a sensation I’d never met before, and explored each flutter and twinge. In time, the pain eased, and I drifted off to sleep.
– Joan Duncan Oliver, “Do I Mind?” (Summer 2007)