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 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. So great is it’s transformative power that I have begun to wonder if we can ever develop wisdom without it. If this is true, then it seems there is no other option but to be grateful for the pain that comes into our lives, for it is the very source of our growth. If we are grateful, we will turn into our pain with joy for what new awareness and delight it will ultimately bring. Easier said than done, but what other choice is there?