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The Wisdom of Pain

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” 

-Washington Irving   

Hello family. Long time no speak.

I pray you’ve been well and that life has been finding you easy as of late. Much is going on in the lives of those around me, and I feel compelled to share about my experience with what is possibly the most inevitable aspect of the human condition: 

Pain.

It’s something inescapable. But what is it really?

Is it a feeling, a thought, a state of being?

In a way, it’s a bit like money. It’s an economy of energy that increases in strength with focus, or it can be transmuted into something valuable – like the elusive spark of motivation that directs us to new habits and thoughts. Pain  has the ability to liberate, protect, and guide us – teaching us about our greater, hidden potential – or it can shackle us into fear, addiction, or neurosis.

The more elaborate a person’s mind, the more frightening and confusing the internal pain can be. The more intricate the labyrinth is, the harder it is to escape it. If the pain is too intense, it can cause a complete annihilation of everything we once held to be true, resulting in a full dissolution of our former identity.

But pain does not need to end in suffering. Once we find the courage to endure it, braving the experience with a detached awareness, we may find these moments to be wholly liberating. If we can welcome the pain and navigate its hidden message, we may eventually find an indomitable strength emerging from our innermost space, carrying us to heights and dimensions we’ve never been before.   

Ostentatiously enough, pain is one of the most important part of our human experience. It’s one of the vital signals that are constantly guiding us towards homeostasis. Physical pain protects us from danger. Existential pain forces us to look inward, giving us the courage to heal, learn, and grow.  Internal anguish ultimately invites us to let go of our dissolving parts to make way for new growth.

Pain notifies us of disharmony, disconnect, or of something awry. It can be a messenger of  change, or it can warn us to change. It helps promote a deeper level of empathy, as it is the most undeniable aspect of the human experience.

Simply put, it is an inevitable and natural side effect of our life’s evolution. Once a person masters her relationship with pain, she has the ability to use her newfound awareness to heal, connect, and understand herself and others in the most meaningful way.

We will have trouble, at first, with finding meaning in our pain. Our natural inclination is to simply reduce or eliminate it altogether. Finding the elusive comfort amidst our suffering can seem redundant and nonsensical. Why make sense of something that feels so close to death? 

But to succumb to this kind of nihilism is to forfeit one of our greatest human powers. We may re-discover our gift – the ability to alchemize our pain into something useful – as our crisis transforms into revelation. A diamond is forged only through sustained periods of immense pressure. The butterfly emerges only after the caterpillar fully dissolves its former identity. Strength exponentially increases after periods of weakness and aching and healing. Our understanding of love becomes more complete after experiencing the heartache of loss or unmet expectation.

Pain is also one of the main bridges between our emotions and body. Sometimes stress, exhaustion, and negativity manifest in physical form, making our bodies susceptible to sickness and lethargy. For this sickness to have its maximum benefit (as counter-intuitive as this idea is), we must learn what it is trying to tell us.

Is it pointing to an area of vulnerability that we must draw attention to? Is it asking us to rest, balance, and realign ourselves? Are we being asked to stop filling our body with poison? Must we re-evaluate our relationships with others, and with the deepest, scariest parts of our psyche? 

As humans, our natural inclination is to feel, and we constantly need reminders of our aliveness. If we’ve gone through a period of time where we felt numb, uninspired, or stagnant, we naturally get attached to any new sensation or experience that comes in our orbit – even if hurts.

The modern human has been craving an authentic feeling for so long that when she feels the sobering force of pain, she is inclined to self-perpetuate it, fearing that she might lose the one sensation that makes her feel truly alive. 

In that moment, pain becomes her primary identity. She’d rather feel pain than feel nothing at all. The pain offers her a strange sense of significance. She becomes accustomed – addicted, even – to the self-sabotaging story that sustains her suffering.

Of course, this all happens unconsciously, as very few of us would admit to intentionally seeking or holding onto pain.

Some of us might even believe that the pain we feel is not our responsibility. We may say to ourselves, “I don’t deserve this experience, and it’s not my fault I feel this way. So we blame the conditions outside of our control and remain in anger.

Indeed, taking ownership of extremely painful experiences requires a kind of willpower that borders on insanity. It’s much easier to forget that each of us wields the power to shape every one of our choices, feelings, and thoughts.

This burden of responsibility even spans across multiple generations, and our pain narrative becomes directly encoded in our cellular memory. Whatever is left over gets passed on, providing the inherited trauma for those next in line in our lineage. As if taking personal responsibility for our pain isn’t heavy enough of a burden…

Perhaps it might be helpful to know there is a greater utility to our pain – meaning there is a universal reason for its existence. Our internal pain is the sum of all our unresolved emotions and lessons rising to the surface of our reality, and its aim is to catalyze us towards action, and eventually be released from us.

This release, however, does not usually come with ease.

We often spend much of our energy trying to maintain something that is naturally collapsing, like trying to salvage an old building that is barely erect due to irreparable damage to its foundation. We fear the collapse of the old building and desperately try to keep it from falling, forgetting that a newer one is waiting to be created.

Instead of saving the old building out of fear, it better serves us to learn from the former blueprint and create a new structure. The obsolete idea then becomes refined, and we end up with a stronger, more effective construction.

Sometimes things in our lives do not work out because it is clearing way for a new opportunity: Our toxic relationships will rip at the seams in order to free us from its bondage. We go through a series of job rejections until we find the one that is most suited for us in that given time and circumstance. Old habits that were an inextricable part of our lives might suddenly lose their appeal, and our decade-long addiction simply melts away like an old scab naturally falling off freshly-healed skin.

We must allow the things that are not meant to be, disappear. Holding onto things that are naturally dissolving only creates excess debris and heaviness inside our hearts and minds.

The pain then becomes more real. It continues to throb and torment us, asking that we release it with responsibility and awareness. The pain will fight to stay alive as long as there are cancerous parts of us left inside. Our old self will dissolve as we allow transformation to occur; as our new Self is ushered as we allow, forgive, and open ourselves like an infant welcomes her brand new life.

Beyond all this, we must remember to hold ourselves with compassion. It is that which will salve the wound, bringing the effervescent spring of life back into our being. A soul in pain cannot care beyond its current suffering. It must be unearthed and held, like the gentle embrace of autumn wind. So let us be kind to ourselves, and witness our anguish evanesce into nothingness. 

…….

Sending love to All.

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