I suffer everyday with chronic lower back pain. This occured as a result of a nasty fall. I often "blame" myself for this debilitating pain that I have to endure on a daily basis. I need to learn much and this article helped me with focusing on the feelings my pain brings rather than the actual hurt. Thank you.
this article describes accurately my struggles with pain and the emotional component during 10 day Vipassana retreats. when i was able to be curious about the actual sensations and remain equanimous, a tremendous release and opening occurred.
A thoughtful post. Life is about achieving that inner balance and I like the way you broke pain down into two distinct, yet closely related categories..the story is often the part i am more aware of, long after "the pain and hurt" has gone and sitting with my pain and exploring what it is all about does take courage and compassion.
I don't think the article's intention is to say you can meditate your pain away. My interpretation comes from personal experience. What it says to me is that by finding more balance in the mind the body has the space to breath and heal. I found when I went towards happiness and being more centered, many of my physical injuries started to not have a large of a presence in my life. It all depends on what we as individuals are dealing with, but the mind is a powerful tool in pain management in many cases.
I am coming out of a serious bout of vertigo, my second, my first was back in September 2009. A couple of days it was so debilitating that I couldn't leave the house. I had to sub out all my classes for the week. How can a full time yoga instructor and studio owner teach when she can hardly walk? Oh yes, the mind/ego will certainly have a field day as it takes you into its darkest corners... ha! Like Rumi says "this being human is a guesthouse, every day a new arrival...meet them all at the door laughing". These are the opportunities when all the years of practice and study are put to the test! No balance...modify the posture. Waves of nausea in down dog and forward bends...explore the edge of comfort. Can't move...meditate. But the real work IS the internal. The despair, the fear, all the emotional stuff that arises and must be dealt with. Therein lies the deep and meanful lessons of yoga...ahimsa, love, compassion, surrender and undying faith that the universe "is opening me up to some new delight".
Even if I agree that fear of the pain is as bad as pain itself, I can't agree that just mediation and having a different point of view on the pain can helps us live with it.
I feel pain in my hands, it's not because I can describe it by: heat/numbness/crush that it change the fact it's painfull !
I do think meditation is helpfull when your in pain. But it helps to be less anxious, to calm yourself, not to "erase" the pain. My pain is chronic, it's always there, meditation is helping me. But this article suggest that it should make is deseapear, or that I should not feel it like I do. I can agree to that.
Nowhere does this article say pain is nothing, or doesn't exist. In Cathy's case reduced mobility is part of the package that has come along with pain from the injury. It is the struggle against circumstances that are the truth in the moment which Christina is addressing. The desire to go to the store or to yoga, when that is not possible, is part of the inner struggle she describes. This sets the wheels of self-pity in motion, and is a big part of "optional" suffering, which only adds more grief to the story. I hope Cathy heals quickly, in the meantime, she has a chance to practice with, and appreciate those around her who have a lack of mobility as a full-time life challenge.
I am only 32 and suffer from very severe back problems, that have left me having to stop my yoga practice two years ago. I see this as a temporary transition.
However, I have kept up meditating and movement, only in a different way. This article is very helpful, especially the wisdom around the story of self-condemnation and how the emotional pain binds itself with the physical pain.
I have times when my pain is light and then a week-two, where it becomes acute and leaves me unable to work and stay upright for too long. Each time I jump back to a fearful place. Now with meditation I realize more and more I don't have to react with this downward spiral each time. I can find feelings of gratitude in me for the many things and people that support me when I'm in pain - such as the tool of meditation, the wisdom of books and articles as this one.
And I still have hope that I will be able to find my way back to yoga practice. Perhaps though I have lessons in mindfulness to learn first....
Thank you and Namaste
This article is so helpful. Thank you.
You are careless in your words. You said, we feel the pain and think," my foot, my back etc.. adn then the floodgates of ...open". This is not necessarily true for everyone. This is true for some sometimes.
Please give many of us credit. Many of us do NOT open immediate floodgates of complete doom. Some of us think about what to do, to ease the pain or to change the situation. Some of us- not all- are smart and have read Yoga Journal and already know that some pain will come and go andt hat our reaction toit is part of its ehaling or worsening.