It is normal to have little sensitive points in our body. These points tell us about how the body is functioning. They are sore or sensitive not to tell us how we have failed. They are not there as a form of punishment. Making the pain along these points stop hurting is not our objective. It’s not that we can be healthier if they don’t hurt. I think sore points are our body’s way of saying This needs attention. There is a story here, and it wants to be told. And “this” is not just a point on your leg. “This” is a point on a map – the map which is possibly on a meridian line that runs through the gall bladder and up into the jaw, and that that point of pain is like a little push pin. It’s like a little light blinking, saying: HERE. THIS IS HOW YOU CAN CARE FOR YOURSELF, BY NOTING THIS, BY BEING CURIOUS ABOUT THIS, BY SLOWING DOWN, ASKING FOR HELP AND APPLYING THE INFORMATION YOU RECEIVE.
Pain is when I’m simultaneously reaching for something and smacking myself back for reaching for it.
I’d like to open up a conversation about talking about pain, talking about our pain with other people. Gosh, where to start? All kinds of feelings of shame and embarrassment come up for me whenever I am telling people these days about the most exciting and the most fascinating project that I’ve been working on, which is correcting my bite, so that my body functions like it was intended to function, and I am not chronically defended or clenched and body parts are not cut off from my awareness. And with some people I can approach the subject more easily. But with other people, they have this reflexive response to the mere mention of pain (you included, maybe). They think it is their responsibility to do something about it, when all I really want is to see if this is anything similar to what they experience. I mention that I’ve had pain and chronic clenching, and for me that is progress – cause for celebration, actually. But they reflexively wince, and apologize for my experience, which they are not in any way responsible for. I am learning about the pain from my childhood and how to put words on it and share my ideas with other people because my numbness is parting (subsiding). I am having moments of feedback from my body which is what I want, which is possibly what you want, too. So what I’m talking about when I say “pain” is not anything approaching suffering. Suffering is akin to victimhood…it’s got an element of powerlessness to it that makes it inescapable, possibly helpless. So for you right now, suffering might be the ongoing barrage of information about how you are not living up to some expectation that you or some other person put on you, or a chronic resistance to the changes that are going on in your world, or a non-acceptance of something that life has offered you (emotions included). Or it is you unknowingly fighting against yourself. So you just suffer (tolerate, and cope in whatever way you can) it.
I am thinking and talking about the pain in my neck or discovering from some therapist or another that this is happening in my body because of something I reflexively did to cope with my emotions as a child, and the last thing I want is to be that person who is obsessing about their pain, wallowing in discomfort – the person who talks about themselves incessantly. But I am longing to share my ideas with other people because this is such a vast topic and I really don’t think I’m the only person doing this, and I think it is incumbent upon us all to take responsibility for bringing our unconscious pain to awareness so we can properly care for ourselves and move past the pain and suffering; to move into the fully-lived embodied present. And we cannot do that alone.
Retreat from Pain
What is pain anyway, but information. It’s upsetting to me when I tell my dentist that my tooth doesn’t feel right. The tooth feels like it is being pushed out, I tell her. I feel frustration when even talking about what’s happening with my tooth because it doesn’t “hurt.” It is holding frustration. It feels like it is being pushed out by my body. When the dentist tries to pin me down for a better explanation, and she goes about tapping it to determine whether it “hurts” or not, I’m just like, “It doesn’t hurt, but if you don’t stop that I AM GOING TO SMACK YOU.” That’s NOT physical pain. It’s a flavor of sensation (frustration? despair?). Nuance. It is information wanting to be acknowledged, to be put into words. Heard.
For me, pain, right now, is information. It is necessary, it is desirable. I want to know about my body.
I notice that when I cop to having sensations I don’t have shame. But when I cop to being in pain or having been in pain for a long time or having chronically tensed muscles (against some numbed-out historical stressor), I’m slipping over into another territory, which people interpret as “suffering” and the moment people do that, I want to just retreat into my solitude because I don’t want to be that person.
Being Vulnerable Has Been Dangerous
So maybe that is why we have healers. Because good healers are naturally curious about the kinds of sensations we are getting because that’s what they work with. That is their medium. And when we talk to other people about our journey with pain (physical or emotional); our experience, and we are reaching for understanding; we are reaching for more information to help us emerge and know ourselves and overcome suffering, it’s scary maybe because being vulnerable has been dangerous for us in the past.