22 Jul Pain in the…
I have recently experienced physical pain in a whole new light.
Today I became aware of the cocktail of emotions, thoughts and feelings which experiencing pain brought out of me: resentment, victimhood, self-pity, outrage, denial. Questioning and wishing for something else.
It is emotionally exhausting to sit through a procedure where someone is hurting me and yet I have the tempting ability to withdraw consent at any time (so I believed until I tried…..but that’s another issue). There were many times throughout the procedure that I almost said something to bring it to an end, even though my body continued to indicate pain and discomfort to the practitioner.
It took lots of emotional energy to restrain myself and bear it. Deep breathing could only do so much and my mind was running around as if on fire.
Pain consists of: the physical sensation, its anticipation, after glow and memory, and also the thoughts, feelings, emotions and associations we hold with it. And it is these factors, often on repeat in the mind, that contribute to making the experience even worse than the physical compoment of pain.
So I tried taking deep breaths through the procedure, clenched muscles, and did what I could. Afterwards, when it hurt to ridiculous amounts, I dissected all the feelings and emotions I was experiencing. While I am highly displeased with the practitioner, I eventually shifted the blame, accepted what happened, and addressed my own feelings.
Next time I have a serious bout, I will try to remember my mindfulness practice: acknowledge the physical pain, and then acknowledge the rest of the physical sensations that exist throughout my body, and explore all the bodily experiences to connect to presence: feet, hands, breath, shoulders, eyes – and then pay attention to my thoughts, feelings and emotions about the pain, and patiently sitting with them until they can soften, and be released, without hurting me more.
Pain does not have to mean suffering.
*Oh and in case the “procedure” part sounded invasive – it was a massage. Directly to my swollen, tender, sore, painful areas, making them more so. Another lesson to listen to my body and trust myself and intervene earlier.
**This week is National Pain Week in Australia. Resources and connections are here.