Present Moment Pain

 

“Perhaps everything terrible is in its being something that needs our love.” -Rainer Maria Rilke

The last few days have been marked by an acute and relentless pain in my upper back and neck. It has prevented me from most higher level thinking and has awakened in me a deep compassion for those who live with chronic pain, as well as a profound gratitude for our ability to heal. There is nothing like illness or injury to make you realize that our health and well-being is our most essential blessing. Just feeling fine in your body is a miracle — or it feels like one when I think about it today.

Pain reminds us that to take our body for granted is foolish and the most ridiculous kind of arrogance. Especially as I approach my 50th birthday, there is no hesitation for me to see my body as the temple of my existence. Pain separates the wheat from the chafe in our thoughts; there simply isn’t enough room for unnecessary anxiety or negative distractions. Simply working with the physical cues and generating enough self-healing compassion is almost a full time activity when you are experiencing pain.

Rest is no longer a moral obligation, it is just the truth of it. I reflect on my habitual overdoing and worse still, relentless trying, and know that my next decades have to be lifted and aided by the ease and grace of finding flow. It is not about working harder, it is cultivating internal clarity that makes the doing effortless, or so I hear. These last days, the message is loud and clear in my shoulders.

I am grateful to have these forced moments of stillness. I am grateful for a quiet place to feel my own pain and take the time to care for myself. All the doing and aspiring sits down for a rest and I lean to the place of being. Pain brings you to your proverbial knees and I realize how many blessings of well-being go by that I don’t even pay attention to.

Our attention is everything. What we focus on shifts and transforms. Attending fully to others or yourself is what love is made of, it is the fuel for our heart’s capacity to open. The thought patterns that consume us work the same way in the body, but watching them with our full and tender attention is the cure. Just don’t expect it to be overnight. Like the mess of our politics, it takes the same amount of time to unwind as it did to wind it up.

Learning patience with pain is how we develop courage. As we allow ourselves to witness the discomfort we realize how strong we are. We learn the edges of our tolerance and gently get challenged to expand them. This is the lifelong process of growing up, growing older. Living in the humble presence of my body’s most powerful language, I bend and wait for the healing that I know is in me.

Related:
Embracing Rest
Gratitude Trumps Fear
Importance of Self-Compassion

20 comments

Alan Lambert
Alan Lambert3 years ago

Interesting...

Laura Saxon
.3 years ago

Another helpful article. Thanks for sharing.

Andy Kadir-Buxton

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Marianne Barto
MARIA B4 years ago

as we grow older, our body parts wear out no matter how active we try to be. i always said it was like an old car, too many miles, rough roads traveled, breakdowns.keep trying to fix them

Chad A.
Chad Anderson4 years ago

Thank you and I will try to slow down and take it easy today...

Jane Barton
Jane Barton4 years ago

"Learning patience with pain is how we develop courage."

No, patiently waiting for pain to go away does not develop courage. Courage is finding out the "cause" of the pain and doing something about it. Courage is "fighting", not wishing, hoping and "waiting".


Amber Beasley
Amber Beasley4 years ago

awesome!

Fiona T.
Fiona T.4 years ago

This to shall pass, if I'm ever in pain I meditate on these words.

Jessie Dijkstra
Jessie D4 years ago

thanks, some good reminders here. sent it to a few chronic pained friends. thanks :)

Carole R.
Carole R4 years ago

Thanks for the thoughts.