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What is pain to you?

David2010-07-04 12:17:49 +0000 #1
Have you ever noticed what a young child does the FIRST time they bump their head?

If you would have asked me what pain was a few years ago, my response would have been along the lines of, "Something that sucks and should be numbed as quickly as possible. I mean really, who likes pain except those crazy S&M folks?"

Over time, yoga began to provide me a new set of tools. In addition to a nifty rubber handled screwdriver, meditation, and pranayama, I vividly remember an episode where I attempted to open one of those hard plastic wrapped items with a pocket knife. I'm not sure what I did, but the next thing I knew, the knife had slipped and sliced into my thumb and index finger. I immediately gripped my hand into a tight fist and clenched up my entire body. It was one of those instances where you KNEW it was a bad cut, it was going to bleed a LOT, and hurt like a mouthful of angry bees.

But for once, I broke the cycle. My mind and body relaxed and I wondered, "What would happen if I accepted this experience instead of resisting it?" I calmly walked to the bathroom and gently opened my hand over the sink. Color flooded back into my palm and fingers and the torrent of blood began to exit my thumb and finger. However, instead of there being an intense "bad pain" I instead felt a "good pain". I marveled at the miracle that was taking place before my eyes and imagined the matrix of platelets slowly being built to stem the flow of blood. The experience turned out to be a good one and it was amazing how fast the wounds healed.

Since then, pain has taken on a new meaning for me. It's not something I fear or resist, instead, it's something I observe and accept. I've learned that pain is often a signpost and that my mind loves to label pain as something bad when instead it is a doorway to transformation.

What is pain to you?


Alix2010-07-04 12:32:26 +0000 #2
I'm chuckling a little here David. "A torrent of blood"????? EWWWW! David, there is a reason our instinctive reaction is to clutch a wound tightly, its because you need to put pressure on a bleeder so you don't bleed out! I know you were illustrating a point, I'm just teasing you a bit.

I feel a bit the way you do, but I tend to walk the line of practicality a bit more. If I cut the tip of my finger off while using my mandoline (done this...not fun) I am going to clutch it and do my best to stop the bleeding and deal with the pain as an afterthought.

If I experience OTHER pain, headache, joint pain etc I try to listen to my body and figure out what I've done to cause the pain and reverse it. Sometimes its as simple as realizing I haven't drunk enough water, and sometimes its that I've allowed the worlds cares to be piled on my shoulders and I need to center myself in the heart of my family and my practice.

Pain is an indicator that you need to address something in your life. How you choose to address it well...thats another story.

Oh, and as a tiny offshoot, some pain is uncontrollable, and it doesn't matter whether you try to ride it or fight it, it is overwhelming and takes over your whole being til IT decides to be done. (Yes, I've had babies, can you tell?)
Pandara2010-07-04 12:41:13 +0000 #3
Hi David,

I am not a great fan of pain, but has learned that it can be a great teacher as well. I think the Divine knew well not to give me a female body in this life, because I would have been the first to cry for the epidural!

Anyway, I would like to relate two episodes in my life to illustrate my relationship with pain in my life. I have been very fearful of pain for a very long time in my life. And for those who read this and wonder about the benefits of having a good teacher, pay attention now. Anyway, my own teacher of course realised this long even before I knew it and over the years under her gentle guidance she would push me ever a bit further in discovering why I am so fearful of pain. This all culminated last year in a firewalking session which was recommended (perhaps more insisted upon) by my teacher. You can just imagine my fear, but I did it, with much hesitation, but I did it! What did i learn? Like you, that I have control over my pain, I can stop the pain myself or I can continue to allow the agony of it to take me to a state of fear. This is one side of my story.

The other side is of course, pain are there to teach us as well, and we cannot ignore it. Last week I went to do some shopping and in my haste to get in and out of the shopping centre as quick as possible I bumped my knee in the parking lot against the tow bar of another car. I immediately choose to block that pain and went about my business effectively blocking the pain from the bump on my knee. Well, I forgot the pain until later that night in bed, boy, did I curl then of pain in my knee. Eventually got up, went into my meditation room, sat, centred myself and explore the reason for my pain. Ego, of course, the knee is our reminder that ego is somewhere rearing its ugly head and that I need to pay attention to it. After working through the issues surrounding my ego, amazingly enough the pain subsided and I could go to bed, much more at peace and no more pain.

I look at pain in my body and always ask what it is trying to tell me about a particular aspect of my life. I am great believer that each body part tells you something of your emotional and mental states and the pain in that body part will tell you more about the issues you have to work on.
Fin2010-07-04 13:30:44 +0000 #4
Dear David,

… in addition to all the comments posted so far (all of which I endorse), I would like to add that in the dim & distant past there was a tendency in me to objectivise emotional pain. By this I mean rather than feel/experience the many emotional pains (heart aches, loss of friends & family, challenges of climbing up the corporate ladder etc), I often wanted the pain translated into a headache or some other ache, with the view that this tangible pain can then be addressed with some pain relieving medication, voila pain gone! Of course we all know suppressed pain is never gone only deposited (in body/mind) & ready to resurface with interest! My journey of freeing myself of arthritis & other chronic ailments (all considered irreversible by modern medicine) by cleansing my body, mind & spirit attests to this. I believe many chronic ailments are a consequence of suppressed & stored pain, free/feel the pain & the ailment evaporates.

For me pain today, is a growth & learning device, I allow its full expression embrace it & strive to receive the many messages of the subtle body, needless to say if I cut my finger I’m NOT going to sit down & “enjoy” the pain of a cut finger ha ha!

Namaste,

Fin
David2010-07-04 13:08:27 +0000 #5
Quote:

Originally Posted by Alix

I'm chuckling a little here David. "A torrent of blood"?

Ok ok, so maybe I exaggerated a LITTLE bit. How about, "A geyser of blood"?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alix

Oh, and as a tiny offshoot, some pain is uncontrollable, and it doesn't matter whether you try to ride it or fight it, it is overwhelming and takes over your whole being til IT decides to be done. (Yes, I've had babies, can you tell?)

I think all pain is uncontrollable, we can only (sometimes) choose how to experience the sensation. Most of us (god knows I do) have that threshold you speak of where it is too overwhelming or where we haven't developed the necessary tools to make a conscious choice.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pandara

I am not a great fan of pain, but has learned that it can be a great teacher as well.

I hear that

For me, it depends on the type of pain. If you hit me on the knee with a hammer, I'm not going to be a fan of that pain. If I feel an unexplained pain in an area of my body that feels like a signpost to something I need to deal with, I get excited for the opportunity. If I feel like I am going to vomit (can we define that as pain) I'm done as I haven't yet developed the tools to properly observe, surrender, or whatever the heck I'm supposed to do with that feeling.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pandara

I think the Divine knew well not to give me a female body in this life, because I would have been the first to cry for the epidural!

Hahah!

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pandara

You can just imagine my fear, but I did it, with much hesitation, but I did it!

Awesome! Good for you

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pandara

I look at pain in my body and always ask what it is trying to tell me about a particular aspect of my life. I am great believer that each body part tells you something of your emotional and mental states and the pain in that body part will tell you more about the issues you have to work on.

What a beautiful perspective

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fin



I often wanted the pain translated into a headache or some other ache, with the view that this tangible pain can then be addressed with some pain relieving medication, voila pain gone!

Forget soulmates, you and I are pain mates. I was in the same boat

Much of that was due to social conditioning.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fin



Of course we all know suppressed pain is never gone only deposited (in body/mind) & ready to resurface with interest! My journey of freeing myself of arthritis & other chronic ailments (all considered irreversible by modern medicine) by cleansing my body, mind & spirit attests to this. I believe many chronic ailments are a consequence of suppressed & stored pain, free/feel the pain & the ailment evaporates.

I absolutely agree. The only difference is I feel MOST chronic ailments are a consequence of suppressed and stored pain.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fin

Needless to say if I cut my finger I’m NOT going to sit down & “enjoy” the pain of a cut finger ha ha!

Based upon what you've learned of pain, what WOULD you do if you badly cut your finger?

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