We all experience pain. It is part of the human journey. Pain can be sudden. Pain can be gradual. The causes vary and how pain manifests differs, too.
Tragedies, loss, or rejection triggers deep emotional angst. Memories, conversations, and realizations can also be a catalyst for pain. The spectrum of emotions that can spark suffering are infinite.
Of course there is also physical pain. Dancers, athletes, and aging bodies experience sprains, aches, and inflammation. For some of us, it’s a sign that we are overusing the vehicle that houses our mind and spirit.
Disease often fuels pain, too. I look at this, however, as DIS-EASE in our souls. (I do not take credit for that concept, but I certainly live by it. I would love to attribute that to someone; I cannot find who said that initially. But I wanted to share it with you.). For others, it’s emotional trauma that has imbedded itself into cells and our subconscious minds.
Pain does not discriminate. It affects us regardless of age, gender, socioeconomic, cultural, and religious backgrounds. We cannot avoid it. We will all at some point endure it. But we can certainly, if we choose to do so, learn from it.
One thing I know to be true? Pain is our body signaling that the light has changed from green to yellow. A sudden fall, for instance, may be a hint to slow the pace. I know a person who took one step forward, not a steep nor wide one, and broke her arm in multiple places.
When I reflect on this unexpected, jarring moment, I realize it perhaps forced her to pause. This person is a brilliant, independent, and active woman. And as always, this amazing person didn’t let it stop her from celebrating occasions and going to work.
From my perspective, she was given a gift of time. She was forced to slow down, and therefore she had more time with her incredible mother, who died just a few months later. But she had to be flexible and accept temporary changes. I can imagine how frustrating it was for her to depend on others. I can totally relate.
I had an experience a few years ago that still unnerves me. I was walking toward a store when suddenly a lightning bolt struck the pavement. It was inches away from me. I shook as I stumbled into the store. I questioned myself: Did that REALLY just happen? I’ve heard the phrase in jest, “Don’t get struck by lightning!” It wasn’t even a stormy day.
A few concerned, kind people surrounded me. They said “sit down” and “Are you ok?” I guess I did not imagine it. The lesson? Pause. I was serving on several community boards at the time, raising two young kids, having painful awakenings, and much more.
As my dear friend has said to me for years, “You never have white space in your calendar.” I used to laugh at her and say, “That’s how I roll! I love to help others and be constantly productive. We have to make the most out of every day we’re given!” I was admittedly one of those people who glorified “busy.” I felt the more I did meant I was living a fulfilling life.
The bizarre lightning incident was five years ago. In 2008, I had a huge warning regarding my health. I am fine now. I am strong, fit, and healthy. But do you think I listened to my body’s signals then? Did I pause more and go inward? Did I cut toxic people or situations from my life? No. I did not.
When we don’t listen to the yellow lights, which are the first, gentle cautions, the universe will demand our attention. For those of us who are constantly propelling and zooming through life, that signal will change from green to red. And this may occur without warning.
That happened to me. And quite honestly, as I write today, I can barely stand straight. I have been working dilligently and mindfully on pausing. Although it’s starting to get easier, saying “no” to others and “yes” to myself/my needs/my health is still challenging. Writing weekly blogs and launching “Every Soul Has A Story” has truly held me accountable, and I am finally practicing daily what I try to teach others.
So why am I in pain? Emotions can and do affect our physical bodies. I am learning more each day about mastery of the mind. The past few weeks, to be honest, I slipped back into my “old Dara overachiever–don’t stop ’til you drop” lifestyle. I didn’t even realize I was doing it.
My body decided to scream. It forced me to a screeching halt. I’m agitated. I’m impatient. I’m exasperated. I haven’t exercised in a week, which is part of my daily life. I am out of breath just going up the stairs. Last week I was lifting heavy weights and easily, briskly walking over an hour.
I went to a chiropractor and other healers the past few days. I’ve had detox teas, no sodium, I’ve been resting (yuck!), and more. My family has been incredible—I am so thankful for their care.
And this is not the first episode I’ve had in which I’ve suddenly become distended. As a result, my lower back is in a spasm. It’s been happening randomly (or so I thought) for the past 18 months.
Other strange, inexplicable aches have roamed around my body the past few years. This vessel that doesn’t consume gluten or dairy. This home that I keep physically strong and emotionally open/positive. I’ve done deep work, and I’ve searched for answers.
Louise Hay is an extraordinary, insightful writer. She’s written several published works. Her book, “Heal Your Body: The Mental Cause for Physical Illness and the Metaphysical Way to Overcome Them,” simply lists specific ailments and areas of pain in the body. So just now I decided to look up “swelling.” Hay lists this as representing “Clogged. Painful ideas.” Interesting.
I decided to go a bit further. She has a chart indicating the different areas of the back and spine. I located where I feel this recurrent spasm. Hay identifies this as “Stuck in childhood pain. See no way out.” For general spasms she writes, “Tightening our thoughts through fear.” Insightful.
She offers a “new thought pattern,” which is next to each “probable cause” of the pain. Here’s an example: “I grow beyond my parents’ limitations, and I live for myself. It is my turn now.” Whoa.
What have I concluded? Emotions and episodes in my life I repressed are now insisting on being seen. Why did I shove so much away for so many years? Survival. I chose and often still do to see only the positive. And now my body is shouting at me—even my knees sound like a 90-year-old Olympic sprinter. And I don’t run. I never have. (If you DO ever see me running? I’m being chased by something!).
Rereading Hay’s powerful words has explained much of my pain. Writing about this today scares me tremendously. As I’ve said before, I am a private person on many levels. But I awoke at 3 a.m. I realized that if sharing my journey can help someone else, then I am going to rise above the fear, let it flow, and let it go.
I have decided to embrace the pain rather than fight it. I clearly haven’t learned all it’s here to teach me yet. It is part of my path and purpose. And it’s forced me, for my own (and my family’s) health, well being, and longevity, to make extremely difficult but necessary choices in recent months. Although this week has been tough, all aspects of my life are evolving and improving. The decisions we made are not just refueling my tank. Our entire family’s engine is running more smoothly and peacefully than ever.
I will pay attention the next time yellow lights are flashing at me. I will heed the “proceed with caution” or “yield now” signs. I do not like to stop. I love to give. I love to move and “go.” I love to live. And I realize today that I must no longer resist slowing down when necessary. I am grateful for this lifetime warranty! I witness so many souls who end up in a heap or collide. Or worse—they crash.
And I can’t and won’t ignore when my system goes awry and warning lights blink on my inner dashboard. I didn’t attend a party last night to celebrate someone special. Today I am missing my son’s piano performance. I am sad. I am conflicted. But it’s the fourth day of swelling. When a car skids, you can resist it and spin further. Or, you can ease into the skid so it’s less injurious and hopefully the vehicle straightens out.
We cannot reroute the past, but we certainly can learn from detours and bumps in the road. We can grab the wheel and decide when to park and rest. And we decide when to steer ourselves toward or away from what or who is meant to join our path.