Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wellness Wednesday.. Eliminating Pain

This week's Wellness Wednesday isn't about something I've overcome. It's not about something I've learned.

It's about something I'm learning.

I am in pain. Not excruciating pain. Nothing life-threatening or life-defying. Just a dull ache. It' s a dull ache created by the constant frustration of trying to communicate and of not being heard, of not feeling embraced by the world. It is about separation from my soul's home. It's the kind of pain that sits in the abdominal area and churns. It's the kind of pain that makes me question the purpose of my efforts, the purpose of the things I do to try to break through the invisible barrier that seems to separate me from others. I've "done" all the things I know how to do to "fix" it. I'm weary of the effort, of the disappointment, of the genuine absence of the kind of connections I need here and now.

I don't want to be separate anymore - but it can't be "fixed". It's not something that can be immediately alleviated so that I'll be comfortable again. I need to walk through this, wherever it leads.

I have to let go of "trying".

Which brings me to the topic of this post. We've been trained since infancy to believe we shouldn't feel pain, that it should be banished at all costs, no matter what we have to do.

Heaven forbid we should ever be uncomfortable.

We've been fed a pack of lies. The cultural belief (the ultimate dictator) is that pain should be completely eliminated. We go to a doctor to get a pill. We take a drink. We smoke some weed. We go find a temporary sex partner. We watch more TV. We have a right to have it numbed. It leads us to resist the pain when it's present which makes it more intense. But the truth is that pain is unavoidable. Just the process of being born into this world automatically means we will be in pain. There's loss. We get old and sick. We die. People can be disappointing. This is reality.

I think the real suffering comes when we don't allow ourselves to feel the pain, to be with it, to demystify it, when we resist it. We resist it, become resentful and see ourselves as victims.

It's gotten to a stage where most people don't entirely understand the difference between pain and suffering. I am in pain right now. I am not suffering. Suffering comes from the resistance, not from the pain itself.

Perhaps the real objective in experiencing pain is to use the pain as a healer. A true healer doesn't merely eliminate the uncomfortable feelings. He, she or it teaches us how to feel alive with all of our feelings, not just the good ones. We need to let it hurt, see where it leads us and know the sensation is merely a sensation. We won't die if we feel pain. We very well might if we don't allow it.

The point is to come to the full realization that true health means we do feel that aliveness, in pleasure or in pain. Our pain is real and I'm not the sort who will tell anyone that everything is really okay, it's going to be okay - that there will be a happy ending.

The separation from others most of us feel is very real. And it's as bad as we all think it is ~ in fact, it's probably worse.

At the same time, all is well. This is a path we have to experience in order to understand that we are creating it with our choices. We are creating it with false beliefs. If anything, the pain will help us to begin making different choices. At that point, we will all begin to heal.



Defiantmuse said...

wow. I could have written this post. You (much more eloquently than I would be able to) explained how I often feel. One thread I've noticed throughout my life is my inability to live with pain. It's something I've begun attempting to live with. To not ignore or numb. But to truly just simply be with it. I think the point is to feel. Period.

blooming desertpea said...

Interesting post, Chani. I can see myself in this. Not sure what I think about it on the whole but I agree on accepting rather than fighting it. We have been doing it for too long and it doesn't change which means that there is a reason for it ...

Anonymous said...

This was a good post for me to read right now, because I often have to remind myself not to distract myself from fear and sorrow when it hits. It is what it is, and I know I have to learn to just sit with it.

Anvilcloud said...

It seems to be the fate of some to suffer pain more than others. Two people can have the same or almost the same experiences but one will suffer more pain than the other. I guess it is suffering more than the pain itself.

Maybe it's this: for some, pain is less painful than for others.

flutter said...

I've had enough pain, I think. Uncomfortable is a way of life.

Now I'd like some joy

Gillian said...

I don't know if you read Corey's blog, Tongue in Cheek...but she is blogging about losing her father. She also talks about how her mother is grieving. With no apologies. Crying. Allowing. This is something to seriously consider, allowing the pain in, to transform us, to heal us. Ignoring or dismissing the symptoms of real pain can be more destructive. I say to allow the change in. I 100% agree with your statement about using pain as a healer. (Kind of like breathing through childbirth. Not one more LESS.)

jen said...

i've always been afraid of suffering, of the weakness i feel whilst i suffer. but i always go back to the only way out is through.

hele said...

I try to do the same with insomnia. To embrace it, to allow it to teach me that which I do not want to hear during the day. To accept the feelings of irritation and depression it shares. Because, like you, I want to accept that I am not perfect, that I need to be there with myself. Its good to share this journey with you.

ps. the new site is breath-givingly beautiful.

slouching mom said...

Heaven forbid we should ever be uncomfortable.

Yes. Feeling discomfort can be very helpful -- and can lead to growth.

Angela said...

Yes. Non-resistance is the key. Resisting only makes it worse and last longer. Love the new look!

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Pain, both personal and physical, is part of life and needs to be experienced. We are, indeed, a "comfortably numb" society. It's one of the things that intrigues me about Buddhist thought - the need to experience both sides of existence.

Carla said...

First, I want to say that I love your new header and blog look. Second, very poignant post. I personally believe that pain often leads to growth. We need to feel both the highs and the lows. If we always felt the highs, indeed it would probably not be very high and we would probably not appreciate it.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I realized a long time ago that I only learn from pain. When everything is rosy, I just enjoy myself, but pain forces me to confront my demons and to adjust to the challenges they present.

Pain is how we know we are alive. It also serves to highlight pleasure because without one, there cannot be the other. Pain is also a signal that something needs our attention, and if we ignore it, it only grows worse until we address it.

When we accept it as a natural part of us, we are open to the lessons it brings, and once we have learned them, the pain itself diminishes as it is no longer needed.

The only way through pain is through acceptance. Our lives would be empty and meaningless if we had no means to grow. Pain is our greatest teacher and should be thanked for making us stronger, wiser and ultimately, happier.

Of course, it's hard to keep sight of this when we are hurting.

we_be_toys said...

You are very wise!
I agree so whole-heartedly with you - our society is terrified of pain, and runs from it at all costs, never realizing the opportunity lost to dig deep and grow. I think you did a wonderful job articulating that.

Very cool picture, too!

we_be_toys said...

Oh! I almost forgot the perfect quote for this -

"Life is pain, princess. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something."
- Westley as The Dread Pirate Rodgers, The Princess Bride

Molly said...

Chani, have you ever read anything by Pema Chodrun? I think she's English, but she is also a Buddhist nun. One of her books is called "When Things Fall Apart." It's just a little book but with huge ideas. I think you would find her ideas helpful. If you google her name you can find an interview with her. A very interesting person.....

Chatty Crone said...

“And the day came when the risk it took to stay tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Anais Nan.