What is there to gain from pain?

PainPain is not a necessary ingredient to growth.

We can gain from the pain we find ourselves in.


By paying attention to our reactions.

An example:
Last year I felt a familiar twinge in my shoulder as I worked. 
I ignored it.
Another twinge and I react with anger at the weakness in my shoulder. I worked harder.
I must have become lazy and wimpy over the years. More pain.
My mind is stirred into a storm of rage at various people and past scenarios of unresolvable events, reactions and behaviors.
More pain and more time to justify my anger while I finish the job that is contributing to the pain in my shoulder. The job is done.

Now, I wait for the pain to go away. This is not the first time I have felt this particular pain. It happens frequently when I’m working really hard on my shoulder and every time it goes away in a day or two.
I am still in pain.

Teachers have sometimes tried to discourage people from entering on the Quest, for, by their own experience, they know what a long and painful road it is.

Paul Brunton, Overview of the Quest

It’s been a year of thrashing around in my mind and body to get away from the pain, to stop the pain, to wait for it to go. Recently, I somehow stopped, exhausted from my reactions. Able to pause and have a real look myself, a real meeting with my shoulder.

Now I am learning.
Previously, I didn’t listen. I didn’t respond. I reacted with anger, what else is new? So habitual is this reaction of mine that I live in it as “normal.” A teacher recently spoke to the possibilities of change that occurs when we settle our awareness onto automatic functions such as breathing. That seems simple compared to settling my awareness on my automatic reactions, especially to pain. But I’m getting there slowly, slowly.

This injury didn’t “just happen.” When did the pain start? Long before that day of overuse.

this pain is a gateway

This pain is a gateway.

It is a doorway into deeper parts of my Mind-Body-Spirit. Going through the doorway is painful. But now I see that I can meet pain with patience and kindness rather than anger and impatience.

My shoulder pain is generating a kind of actual change that I have been searching for in books, teachers, and classes for most of my life.

As usual, the answers are within me.
Pain has called me to the threshold of an inner gate. It’s time to enter.

Update – things have gotten much better! Click here for part 2

Update #2
A couple of acupressure points to help relieve shoulder pain

Cindy Black

Cindy Black is the Founder of Big Tree School of Natural Healing and the author of Meridian Massage, Pathways to Vitality. She is appreciated for her ability to make the complex accessible, fun, and practical.


  1. […] I was not eager to learn yoga after all my years of study and practice of Chinese medicine. But I was in pain, and desperate for help (a little of my story is here). […]

  2. Lindsay on July 23, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    There was a Free Webinar I saw on Facebook about relieving sciatic pain and different meridians, the difference between Chinese way and traditional (?) Way. I can’t find it now. I was interested in signing up the July 28 session.
    Please let me know or email me the info.

  3. […] I wrote that in October 2013. […]

  4. janet klock on November 3, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    Interestingly I have learned my greatest lessons from body pain and injury, many times things that made it absolutely impossible to do anything but stop and pay attention to my breathing or my heart beat… I too look forward to seeing where this shoulder is leading you… as always, love the blog! Janet ♥

    • Cindy Black, L.Ac. on November 4, 2013 at 9:25 am

      Thanks for the inspiration Janet!

  5. Sharon Yntema on October 17, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    A great/intriguing article, although I hope there is more to follow since it would be interesting to know what you mean by the last sentence. I also especially found this sentence promising: “My shoulder pain is generating a kind of actual change that I have been searching for in books, teachers, and classes for most of my life.”
    Thanks, Cindy, for being so generous with sharing your experience and knowledge.

    • Cindy Black, L.Ac. on October 17, 2013 at 5:57 pm

      I’ll keep you informed!

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