There’s a rock in my shoe and it hurts. The pain is calling on me to wake up, pay attention, and do something about it. In this case, doing something about it is easy, but that is not always true. Sometimes knowing how to respond to pain is challenging, especially with emotional or existential pain. But the message of pain is always the same: Wake Up, pay attention, and do something about it.
There is great wisdom within our pain if we treat it as a message to wake up and pay attention. If we turn into our pain we can find it’s healing wisdom. If we turn away from our pain, avoiding, numbing or distracting ourselves, then the pain will continue, and probably get worse. The pain we reject often festers into anger or resentment.
The pain of physical disease can help us to understand that the way we’ve been living is out of alignment to our deeper nature. What do we eat? Do we get enough sleep and enough rest? Do we give the body appropriate challenges to our strength, stamina, flexibility, balance, and muscle control? Do we find joyful self expression in something we love? Are compromising our soul in order to make a living or get along with others?
The pains of the heart can lead us into looking at the shadow self, the parts of ourselves we have rejected and hidden away. Do we pretend to be someone we are not? Do we hide away parts of ourselves that seem unlovable? Do we speak up to defend ourselves when needed? Do we create enough space to feel all of our feelings, whether we think they will meet with approval or not?
Pain is powerful medicine if we let it in. The process takes time, but the fire of our awareness will slowly distill pain into wisdom. Wisdom is nothing but our pain distilled into life lessons. Realizing this, we can see the inevitable pains of life are not enemies, but allies in our growth.