Hello SOTGC community,
This post was inspired a few weeks ago, during my acupuncture appointment. I believe it was mid “needle jabbing” and I was busy (in a fun and joking manner) whining about how much some of the needles hurt. Lauren sighed and said, “You know, it’s really interesting how some people perceive pain. And why are you referring to what you feel as pain?”
I’m not sure if she said this to shut me up (I wouldn’t blame her…no one wants to hear someone moaning when they’re just trying to do their job), or if it was to make me take a step back and really assess my perception of “pain” and why I view “pain” as a negative. Now I’m not saying that people should look down at an open wound or broken bone and think “Yeah….TOTALLY not going to associate this with a negative….” But I did spend about three weeks kicking this idea around in my head.
In this day and era, we have endless cures and remedies for any kind of pain we find ourselves in. We have drugs to make us feel better, we have drugs to helps us NOT feel, we have therapy and yet even MORE drugs to help with any ailment or emotional distress we find ourselves in. And at the end of the day, the only thing these drugs do is handicap us from processing these issues, and resolving them. Now, in NO way am I saying there aren’t necessary remedies and drugs for certain diseases or emotional states. I think there is a definite place for certain circumstances and certain necessities if you have a legitimate chemical imbalance and NEED some form of pharmacology to supplement that imbalance.. However, I do feel that most drugs are over used and are merely a band aid over a gaping wound (IE….NOT gonna help the healing process).
Based on the previous year, what I have been through, the loss and grief I have worked through, I would say her statement REALLY got me thinking. What I came up with, and what I threw out in a previous session was “I have been thinking about what you said….with people having a skewed perception of pain. And I have a theory.” Now here is where I step in and say that, NO,
Lauren and I didn’t take a huge bong rip before my acupuncture session.
Lauren: OK…what’s your theory?
Me: I think that you’re right regarding some kinds of pain. That we have been raised, or society has bred us to believe that pain is a negative and we should do anything we can to avoid it. However, after all that I’ve been through this year, the pain from all the loss I encountered, there was an AMAZING amount of growth that came from it, and to be honest, I wouldn’t be at the self aware place I am today if I hadn’t had to experience, process, and learn from the pain. So my thought is….”Is pain, an impediment to enlightenment?” In other words, for as long as we wallow and almost revel in the pain….will we be denied the enlightening experience or lesson that what brought ON the pain is supposed to give us? I know, for myself, this year, when I was in so much emotional distress that there were days that I would wake up and be PISSED that I hadn’t passed in my sleep, and I would have a “WHY ME?! WHAT DID I DO TO DESERVE THIS?! HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN TO ME!?” attitude. And for as long as I felt this way, there was no progress in my self awareness, my understanding, and my ability to learn from and develop from the experience. However, as soon as I stopped acting like a victim, and stopped throwing a centennial size pity party, that’s when I was able to grow as a person. So my thought about pain, is that it’s an impediment to enlightenment. How about you?”
Lauren: (taking several moments to think about and process my deduction and reasoning). No…I disagree. I can see where you’re coming from and I get it…but in my opinion….pain is a GATEWAY to enlightenment. You said that you had to have these emotionally painful experiences to get where you’re at right? (me, nodding, then wincing when I moved a muscle that had a few needles buried in it). OK…so then…these experiences really acted as a gateway to your newly found self awareness and empathy, right? So then, instead of it acting as an impediment…it acted as a pathway…”
Me: (pondering this for a moment while trying not to move any muscles since I had about 30 needles sticking into me). “Yes…but….for as long as I allowed myself to wallow in my own self pity, and to embrace the pain, I didn’t grow and learn. It was only when I decided to move PAST the pain…that I had my “aha” moment.
We then dialogued about these two ideas for a few minutes and finally came up with the theory that it probably depends on what stage of the “pain” you are in. If you are newly out of it, and have only newly come to a self realization point and are happy again, then you might view pain as an impediment. However, if you have gone through this journey and have been in a place of healing for a while, you may look back on it and see it more as a gateway…something to embrace and to appreciate. So how about you? Have you been going through a period of grief and of healing? Have you thought about what it will look and feel like when you pass the stage of “pain?” Have you made a conscious decision that while you will allow yourself to FEEL and to PROCESS…that you are NOT going to wallow in the self pity and pain indefinitely….have you decided if you’re going to let pain be an impediment….or a gateway to enlightenment….?