What is there to gain from pain?
Pain is not a necessary ingredient to growth.
But we can gain from the pain we find ourselves in.
By paying attention to our reactions.
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. 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 on 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 over use.
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