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Exploring Pain, Part I

Updated: Apr 22, 2020

What is pain?

What an expansive and perhaps impossible question to answer.

Pain is a human experience. Each and every once of us make contact with some sort of pain, whether it's tangibly physical, or emotive and inwardly rooted - or both. Because of our own uniqueness, pain is precisely and personally oriented. Yet, somehow it is still broad and dynamic.

I focus on the physical manifestation of pain, such as in chronic cases or spasms or injury response. There are endless reasons and causes behind the pain, but the experiences of these reasons are still called pain. This is analogous to a house having multiple rooms. The rooms are separate enough, yet all considered the house; any injury or discomfort is all considered, in the end, pain.

Important points to consider are:

  • pain is not only a tissue experience

  • sometimes pain is not a tissue experience at all

  • yet pain is not only "in your head"

Somewhere in the realm of everything that we are - reasoning, creative, moving, habitual creatures - is the consciousness of pain. The heart of it lies beyond any tissue and emotive states; the felt sense of pain is birthed in the network of our nervous systems. Here, pain moves from body to mind and vice versa.

The nervous system is our ancient and primordial protector, our most intimate and sensitive communicator. It tells us, instantaneously and in its own neurological language, how to respond to situations perceived by its primal radar as dangerous. This ranges from invoking a pain response after tissue damage from a broken bone or muscle strain, to a pain response when it "remembers" through it's neurobiological imprints how a certain movement previously was related to tissue damage, to a physical pain response when processing an emotional circumstance. What we feel and how we respond to and interact with life is based on messages from the nervous system. How understanding this creates more depth and dimension to explore in our pain! When we view pain beyond the lens of tissue state and without doubting its felt reality, we can accept that it is real, it does exist in our bodies as responses to nervous system messages, and we have the capability to explore it with professionals who are rooting for you. In all its complexities, perhaps we can find simplicity and some comfort in this sentiment.


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