Let’s face it, living with any kind of physical pain is a challenge. I understand that completely.
Our usual response is to fight. We put on our battle armor and spend every day in an effort to overcome pain so it won’t take over any more of our lives. We search for the right therapies and the right medications, trying one approach after another, with the attitude of defeating a mortal enemy.
If nothing works, we eventually exhaust ourselves. We wake up one morning with our anti-pain armour in a heap on the floor and find we have no more reserves to fight, so we leave it there. We just don’t have the energy to go into battle anymore. So, we swing to the other end of the spectrum, deciding that the best thing to do now is to ignore the pain we’re living with.
But this eventually never works.
I discovered that pain was asking for time. Healing simply wasn’t going to be rushed. My body didn’t respond well to being hurried or pushed, and healing could not be approached as another goal to be achieved. Pain kept its own timetable.
Allowing pain to take the time it would take rather than trying to hurry it out of my body allowed for a healthier emotional and physiological response that was far more conducive to healing. My body became more relaxed around the pain and I began to release stress, tension, and contraction. I breathed more freely, moved more slowly, approached everything in a more relaxed manner, and stopped obsessing as much about my healing.
I stopped pushing against the pain and pushing against the situation and began to trust the healing process. Paradoxically, when I allowed pain all the time it needed to heal, it began to release. When I demanded that it leave immediately, it dug in its heels, but when I related to it soothingly and with patience and love, I felt relief more rapidly.
I have found over my years of living with chronic pain, that these approaches are fundamental to creating more ease and grace on a daily basis, to releasing stress and tension in the body, and to relieving long term pain. None of them are guarantees of becoming pain free overnight, but all can offer relief, hope, and positive shifts almost immediately and, as those of us who have been living with pain for a long time know, any movement toward relieving pain is cause for major celebration.
I’ve gained valuable insights from my journey with pain as well. I’ve learned to find a place deep within myself, a clear place at my core that is resilient and eternal, a place I can draw on for strength and comfort in any situation. I’ve learned how to be kinder to myself and to others. I’ve learned how to find new appreciation and satisfaction in simple things and to celebrate the small joys in life.
Pain, then, has become something of a spiritual mentor over time. It has, in the end, taught me how to live more deeply, more authentically, and more wisely. Living with pain has not only helped me understand what really matters most to me in life, but how much I matter to myself.