I‘ve started a daily workout program after a long absence of working out. Like most workouts they warm you up and then push you to go harder and faster. Suicide drills, switch kicks, squat jacks and then mountain climbers. The video calls, “pushup jacks” and I swear back at it and attempt as many as I can muster. My arms are my weak point so it slows up the rest of my body from doing more. After about 6, my shoulders are burning and I want to quit. My internal dialogue is fierce. What I notice is a very bitter relationship with pain. I enquire, “Is it true I want to quit? Is it true it hurts too much? Is it true that I can’t do another repetition?”
I’m noticing that my relationship to pain is similar to my relationship to feeling. How is it that working out pain is ok to feel and push through but accidental injury or psychological pain is to be avoided, medicated and treated as “trauma”? Is it the aspect of surprise that makes it a trauma? Is it the fact that it was not deliberate, expected or wanted? If I look at my emotional life, it is exactly what I have been doing. Sifting wanted and unwanted, expected and unexpected and labeling them acceptable and painful. If someone says something to me that sets off a chain reaction of thoughts that produce pain, I have a conditioned program that labels that pain something to be avoided and then a series of strategies are offered to defend, escape or excuse the pain.
I wonder what would happen if I treated accidental and unexpected pain like workout pain? What if I saw it as exhausting a muscle in order to stimulate the system to repair, build, and develop for more strength, stamina, and overall vitality. What if when I fell and hurt my leg (accidental pain), I felt the pain AND felt the miracle of repair and aliveness in the body? What if when someone accused me or yelled in my face (psychological pain), I felt the pain AND felt my emotional heart and intellectual mind circuit training? What if pain wasn’t to be avoided or anesthetized?
I’m not suggesting that intervention isn’t sometimes warranted to assist injury or pain. I’m just questioning whether it is always necessary. And if it is deemed necessary, can it come IN ADDITION to allowing pain to have it’s full expression to help me grow?
Declaration for the day: Let PAIN live, give it a voice, and feel the expansion.
It’s a good workout program too!