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Pain is functional

Photo by Oskar Holm

Last night I was lying awake in my bed with pain in my throat. I was already sick for a few days and the nights had been quite tough on me, with difficulty breathing because of a stuck nose and pressure on my chest combined with pain in my sinuses and throat. The result was that I was not sleeping well for a couple of nights. 

That night, feeling that it was taking too long to recover, being worried, feeling punished, looking for why I was sick… I started getting tense… I started fighting against the pain… I rolled myself close to the body of my husband and told him that I was in pain, he answered to me softly: "Don’t fight against what is, it will pass", while bringing me closer to his body.

In these words that could have annoyed me in another time and space, I found this time a different perspective to look at the situation I was in. As I was awake with no way to sleep because the pain was too intense, I decided to become more intimate with my pain. I couldn’t go away from it so I decided to dive into it…And there a world of wonder opened to me!

While I was diving into my pain, I could really feel that this pain was an effort of my body to expel something that was not beneficial for me at that time,  a virus or cold. I could see the contraction to push it out which was what I was calling pain, the inflammation to burn it, which I used to call pain… I could witness the body into an immense beautiful complex work to defend itself. So many actions were taking place in my body in order to regulate the situation that I couldn’t even encompass them all. I was lying down in pain and wonder. What I have been calling pain was in its depth so complex, so beautiful, so astonishing. While being there, I finally surrendered and found sleep.

In the morning, while sharing my experience with my husband, who is a specialist in chronic pain, he told me: 

"I always like to remind people that pain is functional. Our knees are swollen because we need to move slower or rest, we have a headache because we need to close our eyes and lie down, the body is creating pain, in order to give us a message for us to have the right position at that moment, for the body to regulate." Of course, we are both aware, as we both work in the therapeutic field, that pain signals can become dysregulated but at its roots, the pure function of pain is efficient communication to allow the natural, wonderful work of our body to regulate itself.

Photo by Jamie Street

The image of a road under work came to me. When people work to repair a road, they usually stop the traffic on that road for a bigger portion than their work. I felt the same for me, my pain was in my throat and sinus, the 'construction' or regulation work was there, but my full body was tired and painful for me to rest and allow the work to happen up there.

Observing pain is not always easy, sometimes the intensity reaches a degree that we feel it is unbearable, but I wish to share this experience as if we can observe any phenomena within us, we often discover a world of wonders that change the situation from contraction to release, from fighting to surrender.

Maybe you will feel this is an invitation for you as well in a moment of your life, if so we would love to hear from you.

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