Pain is a messenger.
Our body has many forms of messaging; emotion, feeling, and sensations like discomfort and pain. These are the languages the body uses to communicate a message to our brain or our conscious awareness. The feedback system that we all know to be true is the most simplistic language of the body: I touch the stove, I feel pain, I remove my hand. The pain is a message "get your hand off of there or you are going to burn." It is pretty simple, our reaction is automaticWe do not question the purpose of this kind of feedback. We do not question the meaning or usefulness of our body's capacity to communicate in this way. This is the simplest form of communication. It is very cut and dry. It is very clear.
The messages also come from deeper and more complicated places. I see the example above as the kind of communication that happens on the surface of things. But the complexity of our body is as vast and uncharted as the ocean. So complex that there is not a person on this planet, even with all the technology and intelligence, who completely understands this complexity. There are experts on our parts, generally on the physicality of our parts. We have gynecologist, pediatrists, optometrists, dentist, neurologist, etc. There are people who know things regarding the energetics of our parts, like the chakras, the meridians, the energetic blueprint. No one is an expert on how all the parts (physical and energetic) work in relationship to one another AND the world around them. Needless to say, these human bodies are infinitely complex. So the communication from the body to our conscious minds can be equally complex. This is the language of the depths of the ocean. The meaning and significance can come from uncharted territory.
The majority of us, the majority of the time exist on the surface of this ocean. Generally floating in a boat we will call The Mind. So The Ocean is the body and The Boat is the mind. In our boat we often get messages, simple messages from the body that come through our thinking experience, like: "Hey, I am hungry!", or "excuse me, I have to go pee." Again, there is no difficulty in determining the deeper meaning of these messages, because there really is none. It is pretty simple, pretty surface, and fairly clear. What we don't realize, if we spend all of our time in the boat, is that there is a whole conversation; an exquisite, complex and very intelligent conversation happening in the waters beneath us. If we have never even put a toe in the water, then we do not yet have the capacity to understand the language. Fortunately, with a little practice we can learn a few words, enough to have a chit chat. And with a lot of practice we can become fluent. Every time we jump in we learn something new. Every time we swim we increase our body awareness and body intelligence. Each time we dive deeper we gain more acute skill in listening. Because of this we can often hear the whispers of the body before they become loud and intense. Like the heat sensation before you touch the stove is a whisper, and the pain when coming into contact with the stove is the yell. In this case, practice equals jumping in the water, getting out of the boat over and over again, to swim in an ocean of intelligence that is the watery depths of our own body. Sounds great, doesn't it?
But then there is pain. And when there is pain... the last things we want to do is swim towards it. We want to get in our boat, and we want our boat to have a fast motor so we can get the hell out of there. This is reality on the surface. If I put my hand on the stove and it is burning me, I am not going to stay there and contemplate the meaning of the pain!
For the swimmers in the room, the practice of being in the water has gifted us with many things; one being an increase in our capacity to listen and communicate with our body, and with that a known awareness that there is so much more here than what is on the surface. And it is not all pleasure and joy, it is deep and complex and often frightening. But is amazing and our curiosity is peaked. And because of this, when there is pain, we know, there is also more than the pain, we know it is a form of communication. And this can make all the difference in the world.
In the motor boat, we want to speed away, find someone to give us an answer, a diagnosis, a treatment. And all these are important, just like pulling your hand off of the stove is important. But, like I said, there is no one in the world that understands the complexity that is you. Painkillers are a lovely thing. They are even more lovely if they give us the respite we need so that we can jump off the boat, and find something more interesting in the depths. In this case, jumping off the boat, does not mean running away, it means turning towards. Pain is always a message. We do not always listen. For we can only hear the messages and decipher the meaning when our conscious awareness is at the level the messages are coming from. We can neither listen nor hear anything from the boat. And some messages come from a place so deep that we may never even hear them in this life. But if you practice swimming and deep sea diving, your curiosity will not be satisfied at the surface.
Get out of your head. Move your awareness into your body. Start feeling what is happening there. This can be as simple as taking a few deep breaths at the stoplight, or doing a body scan before you go to bed. Every day, find a way to dive in a little deeper. A daily meditation practice, present moment awareness, moving meditations like yoga, sitting in nature with internal awareness. Slow the boat, put your toe in the water, eventually dive in. Start exercising your swimming muscles and this will increase the depth and meaning in your life, increase your intelligence and allow you to hear the messages. These practices, over a lifetime, will keep your boat from being taken down by pain and suffering. If you are not in the boat and you are a really good swimmer, you cannot be taken down. You may become tired and weary at times, but you will not suffer. Pain does not equal suffering. Pain is pain. Suffering comes with being stuck in the boat and not knowing there is an ocean of possibility under the hull. Remember, the boat is your mind... full of stories of the past and worries about the future. The mind can be a beautiful tool when used to serve the deeper meaning and wisdom of our lives. But when not connected to full body awareness or the deeper sea of meaning, our minds generally take us for a ride. Kind of like a jet ski, not really going anywhere... just burning fuel and making a lot of racket. When we are being taken for a ride, this is our opportunity to jump ship, dive inward and get more intimate with your own body, its intelligence and its languages. In this way, we don't have to wait until our body is yelling at us... we can hear the whispers.