If you have stubborn pain in your life – headaches, low back pain, pelvic pain – it’s very likely that there’s more going on than just a physical problem. Perhaps you suspect that there may be a deeper cause to your symptoms, but you’re not sure what it might be or what you could do about it, even if you did know.
This doesn’t mean that pain is all in your head, nor that it’s your fault. What it does mean is that your pain is trying to tell you something.
Our body tells us, by means of pain, that we need to address what’s really going on for us. If our body could talk, it would be saying, “Ahem. What you’re doing isn’t working. It’s time to look at your life and do a bit of inner work.”
Pain is a messenger, showing us that something is amiss. But it’s not usually immediately obvious what the underlying problem is, so we treat the pain as an enemy. We get locked in a struggle with our pain, trying to ignore it or defeat it, and giving ourselves a hard time for not doing better. All this does is put us in a state of feeling scared and stressed. But lasting relief and peace of mind come when we gently face and resolve the problems that gave rise to the pain in the first place. For many people it’s a major turning point when they recognise that this puts power in their own hands, because by learning new ways to deal healthily with their emotional life they can help to heal their physical body.
The first step is making a commitment to be gentle towards yourself. What might change if instead of always being self-critical you were to give yourself kindness and encouragement instead?
The second step is learning some tools around how to listen, in a non-judgmental way, to your inner world. A good way to start is with mindfulness, which helps you to cultivate the skill of paying attention to yourself with a spirit of kindly curiosity.
The third step is using that quality of listening to find out what role your emotional life is playing in your pain. As you become more sensitive to the way your body is communicating with you, you can start to release and heal stuck emotional patterns.
By understanding how to let the pain deliver its message, you help it to serve its purpose and ebb away. Most important is trusting that this change is possible for you. The more you do this inner work, the more you’ll come to trust it. Know that it’s your life that will change when you do this work, not just your pain.
The ultimate lasting solution for persistent pain is to really become more aware of your body and your emotions and what’s going on in your life, and to make the deeper changes that are going to lead to mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health. Pain relief is a natural consequence of doing that. So when we think about getting free of the cycle of pain and stress, we don’t have to settle for some kind of bland attempt to numb the pain and calm ourselves down a bit until the next flare-up. We can transform the way we relate to ourselves, to our lives, to our bodies, and to our emotional truth, so that we can not only soften our pain and find a way out of suffering, but also live with much more ease, because we’ve come to trust that we can be our own healer.
Claire has been practising, teaching and researching mind-body healing for over 25 years. For details of her classes, workshops, retreats and private sessions, visit http://www.claireseabrook.co.uk.