It's been said that the sensation of pain is one memory our brains forget. But, what is pain? The International Association for the Study of Pain defines pain as "An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage or described in terms of such damage." By definition, then, pain is a personal experience.

If we look at pain as the body’s signal that it has been injured or that something else is wrong. The pain of a twisted ankle lets you know that there has been damage to a muscle or bone, for example. It’s a warning that tells you not to walk on it. The pain of sunburn keeps you out of the sun and from further damaging yourself. If we didn’t have the ability to sense pain at the right time, we could harm or injure our bodies.

We also need to remember that pain has many components besides tissue damage, including emotions such as fear and anxiety. Sometimes, in order to treat pain, we have to pay attention to these psychological factors as well.

Pain is considered as bodily and mental suffering. Mental and physical pain influence each other. Physical pain leads to mental pain and vice versa. Mental pains, which include anxiety and worry, leads to physical ailments called psychosomatic diseases. On the other hand, physical pain leads to mental distress. Greater emphasis should be placed on mental pain over which one has greater control than physical pain.

Although the cause for physical pain is in the body, the pain is experienced in the mind. When there is a physical injury, the nervous system ensures that the mind is made aware of it leading to mental pain.

Similarly, pangs of hunger originating in the stomach are felt in the mind. The use of pain killers such as anaesthesia make it possible to break the link between the physical wound and the mind leading to substantial or total freedom from the pain. A concentrated and developed mind could also overcome the pain to a significant extent by giving total attention to another object.

In Burma, a meditation master underwent an operation for hernia without an anaesthetic. Similarly, there are meditating monks who have their teeth extracted without pain killers. It is also said that one could have relief from physical pain by engaging in anapanasati, the meditation on in and out breathing, which calms the mind.