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Pain—What’s It Good For? September 27, 2010

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in A Spritual View, Personal Observations.
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4 comments

DSC_0010 I know, I know. It’s been a while since I posted. And many thanks to the thousands (well, maybe slightly less than that) who have missed my posts and asked if things were ok. In the month since I last posted I’ve been crazy busy, stressed, and in pain. So rather than write a post that reflects a less than productive mood I have elected to just let it percolate for a while. And as a result of that ‘sitting with it’ time, today’s post is on the tremendously uplifting topic of pain. Well ok, guess I have a few things to work through yet so let’s see what pops up.

Pain comes in all sorts of flavors: physical,emotional, mental, spiritual. Pain,the word and the reality, makes most of us shake in our boots because it’s so unpleasant. I mean who really looks forward to pain—unless you’re a masochist—but that discussion is way out of my field of expertise. So I’ll simply say that most of us don’t like pain of any kind and seek to avoid or alleviate it.

Inevitably, though pain comes to us. What we choose to do with the experience of pain has a lot to do with our level of happiness and resilience. There is pain and there is suffering. The Buddhists say that pain is inevitable as long as you are alive, suffering is optional.

So, let’s say that you are having stomach pain. Ok, your tummy hurts. But then you begin to awfulize about the pain. Is it cancer? Should you go to the doctor, the hospital? Is this like the pain that signals an attack of appendicitis? Before you know it the pain is not just a pain—it is a huge issue. You have begun to have as much emotional pain as you do physical pain. This is called suffering.

Instead of awfulizing you could get yourself checked out, go to an acupuncturist, alter your diet, or, or, or. The trick to moving through pain is to have faith that things will change/improve. Or that your ability to be with the pain will change/improve.

Everything in life is on purpose: the pain in your stomach, your sadness about a  lost friendship, your anger at being treated unfairly,feelings of loneliness or abandonment, your broken bones. But as with everything in Earth School it is an opportunity to learn and grow. So even in the midst of pain we can still be in the question, “What do I need/want to learn from this?” And often simply learning ‘the lesson’ releases you from the pain. Some have even gotten to the place where they see pain as a gift since it spurs them on to take action they would otherwise have avoided.

When in pain, look for the flashes of bright, clear joy that peak through– your soul’s true colors(or God’s sublime grace) springing up to the surface. Even when you feel like shit (spiritual term, that) you can remember that there is a joyful part of you that can be happy for no reason. And hold out the possibility that you are ok.

Hope this has been helpful to you—it has been quite helpful to me. And for today, it’s all about me.

–Amara