The title of this post may feel a bit counter intuitive. Or just confusing. But if you have chronic pain, or love someone dealing with it, I’m glad you’re reading this.
If you go for it at the gym or on a run, you may say to yourself or to friends the next day “Oh, I’m so sore.. it’s so good.” A feeling of acceptance, of gratitude even, brings its warmth to you heart. You see the purpose behind the pain. You are in alignment with it. Maybe even a little proud of it.
Many of you women chose or will choose to become mothers. You do so knowing there will be, well, more than a little discomfort in giving birth. You accept that reality. You see perhaps the most beautiful of reasons to allow for pain. That reason gets you past the fear of it, and you find alignment with it.
Most pain, however, isn’t chosen.
When you’re rushing to get dressed and out of the house in the morning and stub your toe on a piece of furniture, what happens? Mother-F*%#er that hurts! Arrggh. Shiiiiiitttt! We are arrested into the present moment and into our breath. For the first few seconds that breath for most of us comes through clenched teeth and a tight chest.
We take a quick look for blood or signs of more than just a good stubbing. Seeing none the mind quickly calculates that this pain will only last 10 minutes, with perhaps lingering soreness, and we relax into deeper breaths and an acceptance of what has happened. Our resistance to the moment fades. Helped along, of course, by a sweet rush of endorphins. We’re ok. A little high even.
Chronic pain, the loosely diagnosed kind with no end in sight, is a much different dance partner. Imagine trying to dance with someone while wearing a heavy black cloak. One so heavy you can barely stand. You can’t move in rhythm with this partner, much less hold her close. You’d have to be able to lift your arms for that.
The cloak is fear. There is a story around this kind of pain, and how it has affected the past and could limit your future. The freedom to enjoy life the way we desire is threatened by this story and the fear it brings. In cases like mine and perhaps yours, this fear extends to an inability to support ourselves financially. Full blown survival mode.
Writing this piece has been difficult. My dance with pain is a book, not a blog post. A twelve year journey through medication, side effects, radical diet change and detox. Once free of the meds but not of my resistance to the pain, I spent many thousands on every non-traditional healing modality available. I moved to warmer weather more than once.
These have been both the hardest and most beautiful chapters of my life. Letting go is like that. Surrender holds within it’s rendering a peace and expansion the mind cannot conceive of.
“Embrace the breath as you would something of infinite value, and you will know peace.” ~ The Radiance Sutras.
Along the way I picked up the tools of yoga and meditation. Getting beyond my mind and it’s story left me in the only place I could truly find alignment with my pain: my Presence in the Present. Attempts to fight, deny, heal or transcend my pain have been replaced with deep listening.
And what I hear there is enough. I don’t need my story, and the attachments it gave me. The cloak of fear comes off and I can meet pain on the dance floor and move with instead of against her. She’s been taking me Home all along.