Learning from Pain

Only this actual moment is life.” Thich Nhat Hanh

I have been in relatively intense pain for most of the past two months. It started out as the dull, nagging pain that briefly rears its head a few times a year, the mild twinge of an injury caused by a misguided and over-zealous therapeutic “adjustment” which tore my sacroiliac joint four years ago, and possibly triggered by a twisted ankle in June.

This time, though, the pain has stayed with me, and even worsened, lingering through several visits to osteopaths, acupuncturists and other healers, and spreading down into my hip and leg. At times it takes my breath away, until I can stop and focus a bit. I haven’t got to the deepest root of the problem yet, although I know where I’m looking for it.

All of life is my practice, and this pain has been a big part of it lately. I notice that it’s coming and going, waxing and waning like the moon, but less predictable. Although I’ve had numerous occasions to experience pain of different sorts in my life, I’ve learned a lot about myself and the idea of pain in these past two months.

I’ve learned that strangers can be an unexpected and marvelous source of comfort.

That breath is the most important and powerful pain regulator.

Breath is the most important thing, period.

Sleep is almost as important as breathing.

Laughing provides instant pain relief.

Silence helps too.

Being in a hurry to go somewhere worsens the pain.

Remembering that I am not this body – observing the body from a detached place – makes the pain more of a source of curiosity and less of an enemy.

Pain is a great teacher.

I often work with people in pain, and I am really humbled by what some people have to deal with, in some cases for years and years. My occasional and varied experiences with pain have allowed me to experiment with what I have learned and taught about pain and the body-mind. It works, and developing a sense of gratitude for the whole spectrum of experience turns a struggle into an enrichment.

“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”~ C.S. Lewis

Much love and light,