Postponing & Prolonging Pain

POSTPONING & PROLONGING PAIN

Trying to get rid of experiences that you don’t like

There is no better way to postpone and prolong pain then attempting to get rid of experiences that you don’t like.  What do I mean? Simply that we will do just about anything we can to not feel pain or discomfort of any kind even when its blatantly inside of our experience.  Whether the pain be physical, emotional, mental or spiritual in nature there is often an inherent aversion to all forms it.  Our aversion to, along with our attempts to get rid of, deny and prevent pain, are exhausting, depleting and prolong the pain that we ultimately feel.  

Why do we dislike feeling pain so much?  Well the most obvious answer is that it does not feel good, but it runs much deeper than that.  We have a tendency to create stories about what pain means and this is the real pain.  Most all of the stories we create are along the lines of what it is we feel we will lose if we feel the pain and acknowledge its presence rather than move away by trying to get rid of it or change it.  Common examples are that we are afraid that the pain means something is really wrong with us, that we won’t be able to do the things we want to do, that it will get worse, that we will always feel it and it will never go away, that it will interfere with our life, that we won’t be supported, that we are bad or wrong, that we are not important or valuable, that we felt hurt, that we might die, etc.  These stories keep us pushing away the uncomfortable sensations and feelings at all costs and propel us to try to get rid of or prevent pain whenever it comes into our experience.  

To state the obvious you can’t actually get rid of your experience.  You can attempt.  You can physically manipulate or alter the stuff of your body, and the stuff you put into your body, which may provide some relief of sorts, but more often than not the experience returns or remains, that is until you shift yourself.  Your experience of what is occurs in direct response to you.  Experience cannot occur without the experiencer, and you are the experiencer not the experience itself.  This is quite tricky to dissect out as we tend to identify ourselves as the experience itself, which is why we feel powerless or helpless when faced with challenging or painful situations.  Until you really get this you will seek relief (separation of parts of your experience) more than healing (inclusion of all of your experience).  You will attempt to get rid of, move away from or try to prevent certain experiences (which is simply another type of avoidance) because your only way to feel in some level of control is to try to manipulate your experiences.  As long as you don’t recognize yourself as the experiencer you will be victim to experience and your only hope in feeling better is if your experience changes.   

LENSES OF VIEWING PAIN

Widening perspectives 

There are many perspectives with which we can view pain.  The most typical, collective perspective that is chosen is that of “problem”, meaning the perspective that pain means that there is something wrong and thus we search to get rid of that which is wrong.  Even though this is the most culturally approved perspective it is not the only one.  More and more people are courageously challenging this perspective and choosing novel lenses with which to view pain when it arises in their experience.  One point of clarification that I’d like to make is that at times it is necessary to seek direct support for your physical vehicle and what I am about to share is simply in addition too (a yes and and approach) rather than a replacement for.  You can have novel perspectives on pain that don’t view it as a problem and still seek support at the physical level.  The distinction being that the seeking of direct physical support is in alignment with your new perspective and not as a way to get rid of your experience.  

One novel view is that of seeing pain as a message from Self to self to assist in remembering or realignment with our true nature.  Part of being human is the forgetting of what/who we are.  Due to this forgetting we make agreements with ourselves prior to incarnation to help us remember.  Pain is one way we do this as it speaks loudly and gets our attention typically more than anything else will.  So if we perhaps are either in a deep state of forgetting ourselves or life wants to help us remember ourselves at an even larger level, we might experience pain as a messenger to realign our lives, mainly our perspectives, with what feels good.  If we can pause our story of wrongness long enough then we can begin to see where we might have a belief that is out of alignment with our true nature or some way we are engaging with life that is outdated and in need of an upgrade.  

Another perspective on pain takes into account the emotional-physical body connection indicating that pain means something needs to be felt.  When there are feelings that we are not willing to feel or experiences which evoke deep emotions that we bury rather than feel, often our body will feel the build up of tension that this creates.  What isn’t felt binds energy and therefore we feel pain in the physical body.  It isn’t always obvious what we are avoiding feeling and often times subconsciously we don’t want to feel because feeling invokes movement and change that we may not be ready to make in our lives.  However as soon as we give ourselves the space to dive into ourselves we can access the emotions thus allowing them to run their course and keep moving through us.  This can propel us into taking much needed action in our lives and we begin to see the pain as the catalyst for necessary change rather than a problem.  In this way pain is a tremendous gift.  

Thirdly pain can be seen as an indication of reorganization.  When we are actively creating change and becoming anew in ourselves old structures need to destabilize and that can at times be experienced right down through the physical form.  The destabilization process can bring with it sensations or pain or discomfort as we become anew.

In summary I invite the seeing of pain as simply another part of experience.  The more you can dismantle your charge around pain the easier it will be for your physicality to repair itself.  That dismantling comes from changing and widening your perspective.  We must learn to work with ourselves in this way rather than against ourselves in fighting what is as that simply postpones and prolongs the experience of pain.  It is sometimes the hardest to get ourselves to surrender and allow the experience of pain, yet the reward is great when we do and the freedom that we feel despite whatever is occurring is revealed on the other side of it.  

Dr. Amanda Hessel, Chiropractor, Network Spinal Analysis & Somato-Respiratory Integration, Boulder, Colorado

Being with physical pain

Being with physical pain 

Types of pain

There are four primary types of pain each having their own flavor of expression. Physical pain is the most obvious being that of the production of unpleasant sensations in the the body.  It often deeply activates our survival mechanisms and more primitive, reactive brain structures.  Emotional pain is experienced when our feelings get hurt or we feel unloved or unloveable.  This is less connected with our immediate survival and more with our sense of a personal self and inherent worthiness.  Mental pain is the experience we have when we’re trying to force or insist that life to be a particular way,  when we argue with what is and can’t see outside of a limited perspective.  This is often connected with who we are in the world, what we want to accomplish and how we are perceived by others.  Lastly spiritual pain is that which we feel when we tap into the collective at large and feel the suffering of a group or community.  Spiritual pain is the least personal of all the experiences of pain, but it tends to invoke a high desire towards service towards others when felt.

Though none of the pains that we experience are necessarily easy to be with I find that physical pain can sometimes be the most challenging for us. Our relationship with physical pain is such that we feel the threat to our survival through its expression.  Most of us have subtle, or not so subtle, beliefs in place that to allow ourselves to feel physical pain may ensue our demise. Even if our higher brain centers know this is not necessarily the case, the lower primitive survival structures take precedence and rule our reactions.  

Due to the perceived threat to our survival that physical pain activates inside of our psyche we have a higher tendency to protect or guard ourselves from this type of pain.  This creates a hyper-vigilance which activates our sympathetic (fight/flight) nervous system, creates massive amounts of tension and hijacks our awareness.  In this state of being our capacity to recognize that we are not the pain and that the pain does not control us is quite limited.  We feel consumed by it and have lost awareness of anything else.   

Mastering the primitive nervous system

Coming back into connection with yourself

separated by wallUltimately we must become the master of this primitive survival response of our nervous system so that we can learn to be present with physical pain rather than consumed by it.  When we guard against physical pain we wall off our awareness from  that particular location within our body.  Walling off awareness creates a sense of disconnection from that expression.  When we perceive disconnection we feel powerless because the expression is something other than us. When something seems other than us the mind perceives it to be an external problem and often goes into trying to figure out the solution to that problem. This is a rabbit hole without resolve. You will constantly be looking for and trying the next best magical cure.  

When instead you begin to create a connection with this aspect of your self that’s expressing as a painful sensation you begin to realize your power again.  You realize that you can be with this expression too. That you can even move into and towards it rather than away from it.  That you don’t have to protect yourself from it, but rather that you can experience it. 

It is through this and through realizing your power and thus your capacity to work with these sensations that you can come back into oneness with yourself and with that which was previously perceived to be other than you.  This is how all healing happens in every category of pain.  In this way you begin to master those primitive survival responses of your nervous system.  Rather than letting them run the show of your life you develop greater awareness of your self beyond them and with that new options for how you can engage with these painful sensations begins to open up.  With that you stop seeing pain as the enemy that’s overtaking you and you discover how you can work with whatever sensation arises.  In this working together communication happens.  Vital communication.  Communication that is required for all systems to function and work coherently towards a common vision, in this case a physical vehicle that moves with ease.  

All healing happens through connection and coming back into oneness with yourself.  When we forget our wholeness we appear to ourselves to be broken. From the perception of brokenness no healing arises, only further brokenness.  To join with what’s present (even physical pain), rather wall yourself off from it, creates balance, harmony and an optimal environment for you to thrive within. 

Dr. Amanda Hessel, Chiropractor, Network Spinal Analysis & Somato-Respiratory Integration, Boulder, Colorado