Updated: Apr 22, 2020
Something that I find often in myself, in clients, and many people sharing their stories of pain and discomfort is that we often seek a fixed reason why it exists, as if the missing piece to the puzzle of solving pain is to mentally relive its origin. Countless times I've sat with my pain and in determined focus retraced the steps of my life, going back days, weeks, months, even years to locate that one specific moment in time where I moved the wrong way or a singular painful event happened to me to begin the cycle of chronic pain. Clients describe to me their suspicion of how their pain or injury came to be, and often they aren't too sure how it really developed. It always seems to me that the desperate seeking for this memory, this key to our present reality, is our way of controlling the situation. The pain itself seems out of our hands, but if we make a sensible link to it in the memory of our actions and experiences, somehow we can convince ourselves we have total control and analysis.
What if we consider this thought: A fixed origin story for it may not exist. What if we use a lens where the sensation of pain is a living narrative, woven within the architecture of physical self and the subtle body’s vastness. In this way it provides this gateway into our own microcosms. A microcosm, in a dreamlike definition, is “a world in miniature”. Worlds of ourselves. Consider the experience of pain not as an event, but as a unique and often evasive locus of symbiosis, terrain, history, and intangible memory. It reveals a vista into ourselves we've perhaps never seen. More sensations, emotions, hues free to be studied...a different world.
Pain is a messenger, and we can hone in. Sometimes we need help doing this, and bodyworkers, mental health clinicians, or other professionals you feel safe with are there for you through your pain journey. And that's okay! Listening, and growth from any form of pain, requires slowness, patience, and self-intimacy. It is something to dive into with compassion, to allow our bodies to exist in their needed form and synergy. You may seek therapeutic touch or counseling for the heart.
Remarkably, in my personal experience, pain has guided me further into connection with others. I never knew exactly where it came from, but I picked up on its patterns and learned to navigate those times with self-trust and confidence. From the doubt, exhaustion, tears, loneliness, epiphanies, and all the other complex feelings of my pain there has also been a relational component. It taps into a different kind of compassion reservoir and allows me to feel more called into bodywork.
So, what is pain? All I can tell you is that it is simply a messenger, waiting to be heard.