The Language of Pain – strange topic, right? Or is it … why would you want to learn about the language of pain? I’m usually talking about pleasure ….
All of us have dealt with physical pain at some point in our lives. The common response to pain is to try to get rid of it or mask it, suppress it, or ignore it. When you walk down the ‘medicine’ aisle in any grocery store or pharmacy, and you’ll find rows upon rows of different types of ‘pain relief’, all promising to make you feel better and make the pain go away. And this is a good thing, right? You want to live a pain-free life, yes?
Well, yes & no. When you try to numb your pain through medication or other substances – or ignore it altogether – you are missing out on important information. Because that’s what pain actually is.
Pain is information, pleasure is too, but today I am talking to you about pain – it’s our bodies talking to us. It’s useful and should be listened to rather than hiding from it or just living with it. Your body speaks to you in the language of pain. The whole purpose of pain is that it’s a signal from your body that something is wrong.
If a child fell and skinned their knee in front of you, would you tell them to stop crying and get over it? Or worse yet, would you turn away and pretend you saw nothing? I certainly hope the answer is a resounding NO. And yet this is exactly what you’re doing to your own body when you ignore or try to suppress pain.
Pain is your body crying out for attention and help, like that child with the skinned knee. So please, for your own sake, stop trying to drown those cries in painkillers or ignore them altogether and start listening.
So, how do you do that? To be able to truly listen to your body, you begin by presencing yourself in your body. By this I mean the act of being present in your body and aware of your surroundings. I’m aware that Presence is normally just a noun, but to me it makes perfect sense to Presence Yourself as a verb. An easy way to do this is through meditation. I have a powerful, free 5-minute breathing meditation that I created for you, which you can access here. Having a daily meditation practice – even if it’s just for 5 minutes a day – will allow you to hear your body better and learn to understand what it needs.
Another way to presence yourself in your body is through movement. Of course, if you’re in pain, moving around is probably the last thing on your mind. If possible, do gentle, small movements. You could try restorative Yin Yoga, light stretching, or even just gently massaging yourself. Focus your awareness on these simple movements, and allow that awareness to go right into the edges of your body, into the tips of your fingers and toes. Pay attention to anything that hurts, twinges, or just feels off. Take this time to be in your body fully and avoid getting distracted.
As you become presenced in your body and listen to what it’s telling you, you can trace the pain as it zigs and zags until you’re able to identify the root of the problem. I know I’ve made some interesting discoveries about the sources of my own physical issues in the most unlikely of places, which you can read more about in my blog, ‘What, Why, and How?’
You may decide to seek outside help to address the cause of your pain, and who you see is, of course, your choice. All I will add here is that if you seek traditional medical attention, make sure they’re attempting to get to the root of the issue rather than just doping you up with painkillers. And as we’ve established, all this does is ignore your body’s pleas for help. Listen to your intuition, and make the choices that feel right for you.