According to Buddha,
“When touched with a feeling of pain, the ordinary person laments… becomes distraught… contracts and so… feels two pains… just as if they were to shoot a man with an arrow and, right afterward, were to shoot him with another arrow so that he would feel the pain of both…”
The first arrow is our original experience of pain, whether it be physical or emotional, while the second arrow is our fear about pain. This second arrow can lead us down a path of chronic pain, distress, and anguish.
My hope for you is to have the opportunity to choose another path paved with knowledge provided to us by the study of neuroscience.
Although our experience may be that pain paves our way with suffering, the stones that make up pain are actually meant to support us on our journey. They are made up of signals whose intention it is to keep us safe and are an essential part of our survival system. The stones that are beneath our feet that are created by pain are there to signal us to know that part of our path has been altered temporarily by injury or illness. And although aspects of this pain may remain part of our journey, it is within our power to choose our path to recovery, honouring the stones that have kept us safe and paving the remainder of our path with knowledge and compassion.
There are three types of pain that may be the stones creating our current path. All three may be part of our journey, they may weave throughout the pattern of our path, or one type might be more prominent. One type is physical pain, that which occurs due to actual injury or tissue damage. Another type in emotionally based pain that is formed by strong, unresolved emotions that we have “stored” in the body. The final type is posttraumatic pain and involves stronger reactions to overwhelming, terrifying, or devastating events.
Neuroscience lets us know that all three types of pain exist in the same part of our brain and can become indistinguishable, making our path very challenging to navigate.
One of the most dreaded things in the human experience is pain, and the fear that it will become endless and unrelenting
Any kind of pain that is ongoing will contain an emotional component, some sensation or physical pain, and various thoughts and beliefs that can block recovery, and which often contribute to pain.
This experience has us building a wall with these stones that block our path to recovery rather than arranging them in ways that allow us to move forward.
One possible way to have you designing the pattern of these stones and continuing the journey that you were meant to wander is to reinhabit your body. To reintroduce yourself to those parts of you that are pain free and have them make their way back to support in your design and maybe to even get to know those parts that have you experiencing pain because they are trying to keep you safe. You might even get to know the pain parts well enough to thank them and let them know that you are okay and don’t need them to accompany you any longer.
I encourage you to consider journaling your experience with the Reinhabiting your Body script and maybe even writing letters to the pain free parts and parts that have you experiencing pain.
I also encourage you to consider sharing these stories with others who will receive your exploration with compassion. I imagine that it feels as though this journey you are on is your own and solitary but there are others on similar journeys and the pattern of stones become much more interesting and shored up when interwoven with the designs of others.
Please know that if you have read this far, you are already contributing to your wellness on this journey. With compassion, I find it necessary to let you know that I honour that your experience of pain is very real and I offer this breathing and mindfulness practice as one means for experimenting with reinhabiting your body.
I would like to honour information shared by PAIN BC and from Freedom from Pain by Maggie Philips