I’ve had a few experiences recently through which I’ve been reminded of the value of pain. I’ll say those last words again for effect (and slow it down for good measure)—the---value---of---pain.
If, like me, you’re coming from the west, this isn’t a typical association: value with pain. In fact, we go to great lengths to avoid pain; be it emotional, mental, or physical.
Now before we continue further I think a definition is in order. The pain I speak of is not of the masochistic order (though I’m sure that form has its place), but rather, the pain inherent in our choices, our life situation, and our physical disposition—the pain of life itself.
The Pain Of Life And Living
There is pain in life, and there is joy too. They are two sides of the same coin.
When we avoid pain, we not only distance ourselves from that pain, but also from the joy that is its opposite and identical reflection. The joy is just behind the pain, as the pain is just behind the joy. By numbing ourselves to pain, we numb ourselves to joy. So feel it! Every single bit of it.
Pain is a message, and our body is the perfect conduit to deliver that message. The hangover is delivering you a message. The stomachache we get after eating a particular food is a message. The pain in our neck we feel from 8 hours a day on the computer is a message. The pain in our back isn’t there for us to complain about; it’s there for us to transform, and it begins with our undivided attention.
And those are just the easy ones. ;-)
Pain and Its Message
The pain is our mind/body/spirit saying LISTEN to THIS. LOOK at THIS. Don’t run. If you run, it’s coming back. And again. And again. And again. Ok…I think you’ve got it.
Asana is simultaneously a facilitator of this pain-self dialogue, and a solution. The message of the pain we feel is, in many ways, a dilemma in our mind-body-spirit cohesion, and yoga serves to solve that dilemma. We must, after all, be whole as a person before we can be ONE with the whole.
Listening to the messages of pain is an act of courage, as pain can deliver hard-to-swallow messages like: this marriage isn’t working anymore, this job isn’t serving me, the goals I’m reaching for aren’t right.
So as we become comfortable with pain, we also learn to be open—to accept what life delivers us. This acceptance, then, becomes the key. This is the key that unlocks the pain unto the joy our heart desires.