Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Gorgeous Power in the Moment of Pain

Pain grips everyone. From the pain involved in the physical illness or injury to the pain of the emotional kind that brings on depression to everything in between, this sensation gets our attention and distracts us from all else.

I have a consultant colleague who suffered spinal cord injury in 1994 and has since had partial quadriplegia. Though he can use his arms and hands he has a bizarre mix of sensation and mobility issues with them. His right hand, for instance, feels extra sensitive and the slightest touch is actually painful.

Pain is a fascinating thing; at least if we’re not suffering from it. But there’s the point—each of us does, and many times daily.

Pain is actually not only a very good thing—it’s a miraculous thing. The physiology of pain itself is a marvel. It confirms awareness and proves to us we’re alive a billion times over. When we look at the control system of the human body, the central and peripheral nervous systems throughout to the last dendrite and axon of each neuron, we’re infested with the power to feel pain.

What We Can Learn From Pain

Pain needs to be our friend as far as possible. The only disclaimer to this is pain which requires pain-killers because relief is needed. My thoughts are mainly centred on the sorts of minor daily pains of life which simply guide and goad us.

Most of these minor pains of life many of us aren’t really that aware of. Awareness is key.

The pain at the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels for the most part is telling us something. If we heed this ‘something’ and make changes to resolve (not avoid) further pain we’ve achieved the objective the pain was bringing to our attention in the first place.

Physical pains are relatively easy to feel and self-diagnose. Mental pain can be felt at the attitude/behaviour level via the matter of cognitive dissonance e.g. try driving without your seatbelt on if you’re conditioned to wear it. The cognitive pain tells us to put it on. Or more so, if we binge eat. Our full tummies reinforce with us pretty quickly we’ve done the wrong thing.

Emotional and spiritual pain is a little harder to diagnose and rectify at times, yet it’s no less important to attend to. Pain comes in the form of a rejection experience, for example, and we’re emotionally hurt and reeling. The emotional hurt impacts our spirits—we feel pain both ways. It’s a simple remedy, however.

The simple remedy is to not deny what’s happening and to face it full on. It simply takes courage to wish to be aware. Courage is created at the level of the will—it’s all in the mind, but the heart backs the mind up.

Pain is a very good thing if we listen to it in truth. Some people listen too much; enter the hypochondriac. Truth is critical. Becoming so self-aware of the actual stimuli impacting us in reality, in truth to how it affects our bodies, is the vital key in coming close to learning appropriately from pain.

The daily pains of life are our friend and we can and should embrace it at all levels. Pain helps us grow in wisdom.

For this reason there’s a gorgeous power involved in the moment of our pain. We feel the truth and an opportunity is presented. And life is hence all about taking opportunities.

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