(This is a re-edited, much better version of an older blog, and is currently being published in a magazine called Natural Awakenings here in Georgia! Thanks for reading and I hope you get something out it!)
How often do you check in with your body, ask what it needs and provide the necessary support? Do you welcome the subtle or not-so-subtle pain signals your body sends you? What is your strategy for eliminating pain? Every human being on the planet experiences some suffering throughout their lives, whether emotional, physical, social or spiritual…the question is, will you use your many pains as a guide to lasting health, or stifle them and possibly suffer major health setbacks?
Let’s say your back is hurting. What is the first thing you do? If you’re like most of the 65 million people that experience back pain every year in the U.S., you do something that makes no sense to your body! Can you guess? You probably swallow a sensory-numbing over-the-counter pain pill and just hope it will go away! Does it? Usually not, and it often gets worse. Way worse. (Think back surgery!)
Pain (no matter how you experience it) will only GO AWAY when the actual root cause is addressed and corrected.
As a Licensed Massage Therapist, Rossiter Bodywork Professional and Holistic Health Coach, I’ve witnessed all kinds of pain, from the acute physical to the chronic emotional. I’ve had a front row seat to the distress of my clients, but I’ve also had the enormous privilege of facilitating their healing process. My experiences have led me to the conclusion that if health and happiness is important to us, we must re-think pain and how we react to it.
This may go against the grain, but may I suggest we take a radically different approach to the norm and
make pain our friend?
I assume you’re an intelligent human being, so allow me to ask a question:
Do you think backaches are caused by a pain-pill deficiency? Or a sudden desire by the body to experience invasive, MASSIVELY PAINFUL surgery?
You know the answer: Of course not! So why then do most of these 65 million people try to cure their back pain with pills?! Maybe they never read the section in the operating manual entitled “Pain, And How To Deal With It.” Too bad you weren’t given a manual, right? Good news: you were! It talks to you every day, 24/7, 365…and it NEVER goes on vacation! It’s called your body; it has a built-in messaging system and it speaks to you the only way it can: through sensation, through your nervous system, your gut, through multitudes of daily clues aimed at getting your attention. And it WILL get your attention one way or another. I certainly don’t want to wait so long that my body literally has to bring me to my knees before I listen! What about you?
Please know I don’t blame anyone for taking pain medication. After all, no one likes pain. But allowing pain to relay its message is crucial to your health! My mission is to re-educate you on the absolute miracle that is your body. Pain is merely information. You inhabit one of the most intelligent operating systems on earth, engineered with intricate and powerful information systems designed to keep you healthy, happy and well. Your job is to pay attention, give the body what it needs and cease any actions that cause pain.
Pain is a warning system, and we are meant to heed its signals. Not doing so might mean DEATH! (Did you learn the hard way that fires burn, falls break bones or staying too long at the bottom of the deep end isn’t a good idea?)
I hope to empower you to take charge of your health and happiness by utilizing the most powerful tool in the universe: you!
Back pain can be from sitting at a desk all day, not stretching properly before working out, leaning on one leg instead of sharing the load between the two you were born with…any one of hundreds of possibilities as unique as you are. Most of us experience minor to moderate pain sensations every day: the urge to go to the bathroom; hunger pangs; indigestion; sore muscles; aching joints, frustration, heartache, etc.
Whatever the cause of pain, the solution is relatively simple (notice I didn’t say easy, I said simple).
To eliminate ANY pain from your life (physical, emotional, mental), you MUST:
· Identify the root cause
· Address the imbalances, and/or
· Quit whatever behavior/experience is causing your pain!
I urge you to accept and understand (even celebrate!) this fact: pain is a useful and necessary signal that allows you to identify unhealthy behaviors or imbalances in your life in order to reverse them and return to a state of wellbeing. Learn to listen to those signals and you will be light-years ahead of most people in terms of getting to the root issues that often block the path to lasting health.
Wouldn’t you feel unstoppable if you knew that any answer you seek about your health, happiness and wellbeing lies within you, right now? Well rejoice, because it does!
Here is my challenge to you: the next time you experience pain, choose to befriend it. Where is it? How intense, on a scale of 1-10? What does it tell you? Why do you think you’re experiencing ___? Here is an exercise you can do to find the cause for your particular pain:
- Listen to your body, your soul, your heart (whatever condition you want to address)
- Where does the pain arise? What does it feel like?
- Ask: “Why might I be experiencing this?” and/or “Have I been doing/eating/feeling/thinking/experiencing anything that may be causing this pain?”
- Keep asking one or both of these questions for each answer, until you reach a threshold of understanding for what CAUSED your pain in the first place. Pain is like a domino effect….you want to find that first domino! When you know the origin of your pain, and can begin taking steps to heal.
Everyone is unique, and thus your path to healing is also. In the case of back pain, the culprit is almost always a connective tissue imbalance caused by tight, restricted muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. Pain is the symptom and makes itself known in the back; but the cause is often nowhere near the back, more often found in the thighs or lower legs! This phenomenon is true of most pain, even (or especially!) emotional: whatever you’re feeling NOW is likely a symptom of a deeper, unresolved issue that has little to do with the present situation. Heal the original wound, and the current distress should subside. In this instance, once the legs are opened up, given space and nutrients, the back no longer has to compensate and is released, often immediately, dissolving the pain.
Other examples of this are: a toothache when you have a sinus infection; emotional overeating/inability to lose weight; fever trying to kill pathogens (a GOOD thing!); constipation/diarrhea when you eat foods your body doesn’t like; feelings like anger or jealousy when you are insecure or feel unworthy of love…this list goes on. These examples are highly simplified, and sometimes it takes some sleuthing to reach the original trauma. But I hope you are beginning to see the pattern.
One of the reasons I’ve had such great success with my clients is my respect for pain and allowing it talk. I never try to “kill” pain. Instead, I let it guide me to the original imbalance, and then set to work.
So the next time pain knocks on your door, welcome it and be open to its message. Your body will thank you! Reclaim your birthright as THE best specialist on you, better equipped than anyone else in identifying and addressing whatever pains challenge you. A lifetime of health and wellbeing is the reward, when you choose to be Blessed by Pain.