Making Peace with pain


The hot, sharp sear, cauterising your breath; that heavy, dull ache droning on, dragging your shoulders to the ground; the icy echo of isolation, or abandon, numbing your brain and slow-freezing the beat of your heart; pain takes on many forms.

At its most severe, pain may grab you by the back of the neck (as in my case) and lift your feet from the path. Suspended in its grip, initially your choices appear limited. You could try asking it nicely, through gritted teeth, to gently let you back down to the ground. Or you could resist its power, struggling to physically loosen yourself from the vice-like restraint. You can declare chemical warfare by downing a handful of strong medication, or stick your fingers in your ears and chant rude words and rhymes in loud defiance.

Or you can take a deep breath, and acquiesce.

When pain is movement-related, you can remain still. When it comes in waves, you can yield as it passes over.

In chronic cases, it’s easy to get caught up in the unwelcome familiarity, to wallow in the comfort of your discomfort, yet better to treat each day as an opportunity to choose a new, creative way of dealing with your situation.

Distraction helps! Immersing yourself in music, movies, or the beauty of the natural landscape offers you the quality of an ever changing vista to occupy your attention. For me, the pain momentarily disperses as I breathe in the oxygen from amongst the pine-trees in the forest, or exhale amongst the clouds, as I breathe out into the expanse of the sky from the mountain top.

When you close your curtains to the world, your mind to the TV, and your ears and eyes to your immediate surroundings, what remains is your internal landscape. It is only this world that is ever completely within your personal control, this is your reality. Filling it with the memories of special moments, the images of beauty, feelings of kindness and love, this is the art, the constant creation of the self. This is where your conscious experience of your life in the world starts, and ends, each day, in the quiet stillness of your unique, unlimited, unqualified, internal world.


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