Insights about pain

Sitting this morning, I noticed that when I sit, it doesn’t take long for pain somewhere in my body to come to my attention.

Could it be an artifact of how I usually pay attention? Beta waves? Intriguing concept, but I don’t have a way to know.

Anyone got a good used biofeedback machine for sale? I’m not joking. I’d love to play with getting feedback on my brain wave patterns.

Am I looking for the pain? I don’t think so. Maybe it’s more that when I close my eyes and my internal dialogue stops, I become aware of my body — specifically aware of the places that are feeling pain because those sensations are most intense.

And  yet they are parts of a whole body-mind system.

I reminded myself that there were vast areas of my body that were not feeling any pain. I gave some attention to them. What does it feel like to not feel pain?

At first, I didn’t feel much of anything. Just “normal,” whatever that is. Then I noticed that I particularly felt strong in the core of my body — from my sit bones up through the center of my torso, neck, and head, it felt as if a nice strong column was holding me up. Being yoga! Yes!

The areas that do feel pain are usually small. A twinge here, a pulling sensation here. Rarely are they larger than a muscle, and usually they seem to be part of a muscle or an adhesion in the fascia that separates muscles. Rather, the nerves associated with those places are what feels pain, or so I’ve been taught.

Learning about pain is part of yoga. If you stop stretching as soon as it feels uncomfortable, you will not lengthen your muscles and become flexible and open up your meridians. In yoga, with time, you learn to recognize when pain is telling you, “Hey! Back off!” and when it is telling you, “Just breathe and hold this a little bit longer, and that muscle will release.”

I suppose it is the same with meditation. Pain may be one of those frequent visitors to the guesthouse. How can we become more at ease with each other?

I feel grateful and astonished that I have a nervous system that works! What a miracle that is, one of the myriad miracles under our very noses all the time. Just like the miracle that most of my body isn’t feeling pain!

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