Physical pain is a part of life. Small pains. Big pains. Chronic pain. In many cases it's unavoidable. I've learned it's better to spend my valuable energy on cultivating wellness than trying to avoid pain.
But wellness doesn't mean feeling pain-free.
Wellness looks different for everyone. For me it's a feeling of acceptance, presence, compassion, openness and gratitude for my life. Whether or not I feel WELL has less to do with how much physical pain my neck arthritis or anything else is causing me, but how skillfully or fearfully I work with the pain.
After revisiting Pema Chodron's teachings on suffering, meditation and freedom, I was given an opportunity to work with them this past weekend...
Pain is here. Stop. Breathe. Allow. Breathe. Gentle. Allow...by meeting the pain with gentleness, mindfulness and noticing any story I might be making up about the pain that is causing me to suffer (e.g. will it get worse, can I handle it, what will happen, etc.), I was able to be with the pain with less suffering, more compassion, less fear.
Pain is inevitable, yes, but the suffering is driven by our thoughts ABOUT the pain.
Pain is here, but wellness is also.
Practicing mindfulness to tap into my fundamental feeling of wellness in the midst of my physical pain definitely continues to be a challenging exercise, but it has been proven true for me (again) that genuine joy or a feeling that all is well is independent of what is happening to or around me.
I believe that not because I read about it or heard about it at a seminar or lecture, but because I experience it.
And from that experience my belief becomes knowing.
At those times when my response to life does not reflect the spiritual principles I study, the disconnect is not in my understanding of the concepts but in feeling the truth of them for me.
I invite you to look at any area of your life that is causing you pain - physical or emotional. Can you access a feeling of wellness or a knowing that all is well even when you would prefer life be different in the moment?
How can you use your pain to deepen your experience of life, your awareness, your compassion for yourself and for others in pain?