PAIN

I choose to approach my physical and psychological pain differently. I choose to be with my pain, I choose to give pain the space it deserves. 

I clearly remember the first time someone wanted to teach me to be with, and look at my pain. At that point in my life, I suffered a lot with my pain. I have Crohn’s disease, epilepsy and had many problems with my left shoulder. And to be honest, my first thoughts were: “That woman is crazy! Feel my pain!? Breathe in to it…? That’s the place full of misery and sadness that I rather shy away from, so obviously I’m not going to ´feel it´”. I wasn’t ready to see what this could mean for me.

Years and years later I started my own research on ‘pain’. I was done with my resistance; the sadness, the suffering that pain brought me. I couldn’t and wouldn’t believe that a life of suffering was the life I was meant to live. My disbelief opened a door to other possibilities.

In my research I quickly realized how much of my physical pain was rooted in the way I think and feel. It became clear that you can adjust pain if you are able to direct your thoughts; turn down their volume, give them space, breathe, be with the pain…These insights didn’t mean I just flipped the switch  ‘apply now”.  I needed a lot of time, practice and more insight before I not only knew this, but also felt it. And still, as I write it now, I realize I did not consciously experience this in that way, at that time, in that moment. 

But now that I look back on it, having pain facilitated my practice in meditation, self reflection and being. Pain is obvious, unavoidable, pain screams. So for me it became a perfect motivation, an excellent driving force for change. I mean: if the only thoughts you have is whether you’ve watered the plants, you probably don’t feel the need to change your thoughts and beliefs. 

I learned to look at pain and the thoughts that come with it in a different way. For example, have you ever pressed on a painful area? I realize this doesn’t sound appealing, but stay with me. At first when you put pressure on pain you feel resistance, a stream of thoughts. What is this? This can’t be right? How can I stop this? Fight and flight; all natural reactions. But when you press on a painful spot and keep it up for a while, after the first wave of pain, the pain slowly subsides. Give it a go, try it on a bruise or small cut. Put pressure on it. If you can, breathe through it, stick with it. You will see that the pain experience changes. If you can grab this concept, you can gradually apply this to larger pain. 

I discovered more: Pain and the space you give it.  As mentioned, I have a bowel disease (Crohns). For years I experienced pain in my bowels. But your intestinal tract from start to finish is about nine meters. With saying that “I have pain in my bowels”, I gave room to those nine meters, nine meters of pain!But the reality is (as I write this) that there is a twenty centimeter inflammation in my gut. To make it visual, the short side of an a4 paper is twenty one centimeters. Nine meters is about forty-two a4 papers side by side. Give something the space it deserves, no more than it deserves. Does this make sense?

And then there is emotional pain that you experience as physical pain. Just a little warning: when you pull open that door, prepare for what could be behind it. For me, much of my physical pain was in my emotional layer. I can hear you thinking: “Emotional layer…? What are you talking about?” Well, in your life you have experiences; good, bad, traumatic and everything in between. These experiences can get stored in the different layers of your system. They continue to pile up if you don’t face them, clean them up, or have a closer look. This can be an explanation for your burn out, depression, or the many unexplained pain you have. Read more about this? click here.

Now I choose to approach my physical and psychological pain differently. I choose to be with my pain, I choose to give pain the space it deserves. I balance it through nutrition, meditation and lifestyle adjustments. I add a healthy dose of self-reflection and of course help from the people around me who are willing to look at their shit and can help me face mine. When it comes to pain or suffering, you have a choice (although it often doesn’t feel that way)

Pain is inevitable, suffering is a choice. 

 

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