By : Nikki Savage
Pain is a hard thing to manage. It isn’t pleasant. And it comes in many forms. It can be acute like the pain of a broken bone and it can be chronic, like arthritic pain. And pain isn’t limited to the physical body. We can experience mental pain and anguish, emotional or spiritual pain like grief. Whatever the form, we can’t be rid of it fast enough. But we must understand, pain isn’t the disease and stopping ourselves from feeling pain doesn’t cure us. It just numbs us for a time.
So then what do we do with pain instead? What about being with it? What if we accepted it? Now I’m not saying to someone who has a finger dangling off their hand to just be still and accept the pain. They see the cause and it can be fixed. But for those who struggle with a deeper pain, who suffer in a pain that doesn’t seem to have a source that can be “fixed’, is it possible to allow it?
I see time and time again, what we resist persists and what we allow is transformed. What if we allowed our pain its space? What if we were able to hold our pain and move through it? What does that look like? How does that work?
Honestly, I cannot say. I, myself, am writing this today as I move through grief. I am grieving a loss of someone who was trying to escape their own pain, fresh on the heels of another loss of the same kind. And I know I’m not alone even though most people don’t like to talk about pain, our own or anyone else’s. But maybe we can change things if we start there
Pain is not a sign of weakness. It is not a fault of character. It is not a badge of shame. And the roads pain can take one down can be darker than we could think possible. So in the spirit of shedding light, I would like to share some information I’ve found helpful with this community. Just some ideas to help one live with pain, whether it be spiritual, emotional, physical or mental (or as in many cases, all of the above) or even someone else’s.
Try to allow it. There has been research that suggests allowing pain to be what it is and living how you wish to live despite it can be beneficial. The idea is to take the focus from avoiding and suffering through pain to finding what things are still good despite the pain. And then spending more time doing these things. Giving the positive perspective the attention.
Breathe. Connecting to our breath can do wonders to relax and destress, which allows us to better handle feelings of pain. Just pausing and taking a few mindful deep breaths can help us reset and gain clarity. There are even a number of yogic breathing exercises designed with specific outcomes in mind.
Move through pain, literally. Find a way to move if possible (*disclaimer: and okay by the doctor!) Bodies in motion, stay in motion. Even if it is limited motion, it is better than no motion. Find a way to move that makes you feel happy. Jog, walk, wog, lift weights, do yoga, play a recreational sport, dance, whatever. If there is a physiological reason not to move, we need to honor our limits. But if we are self-limiting because of overwhelming fear, anxiety or depression, it may be worth pushing those perceived boundaries.
Find support. Talk about it. We can’t fix what we don’t accept as broken and we can’t heal what we deny is hurt. The people who love us will love us just that same as we’d do for them. It can be uncomfortable at first to talk about pain or even listen to someone speak about their pain. But sometimes as we talk, we heal.
Give faith a try. I’m not looking to convert anyone. But there is something to prayer. Having a spiritual practice and deep faith can do wonders for a body. And it doesn’t matter what religion: Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Pagan or Love. Nurturing our bodies is great. Nourishing our souls too? Even better.
One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. ~ Carl G. Jung
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