Saturday, March 24, 2012

Pain – finding strength in the weakest point

Today my yoga teacher gave a very good take on pain and discomfort. She said that every one of in our practice will come across a pose that is difficult and makes us feel uncomfortable. We usually react in one of two ways; we give up on the pose, thinking it’s not worth it, or we try hard to distract ourselves from the pain we experience. Every pose in yoga is about softening (stretching) and strengthening at the same time. As our bodies vary so much, we all have our stronger and weaker points. The challenge of yoga is taking the time and patience to develop and strengthen the weaker points; the challenge being we can never master the art completely.
My teacher said: “Can you just stay in this pose, feeling the discomfort and pain, and choosing simply to observe, without reacting?”

It made me think a lot about life and our own “pains”; both physical and emotional. I had had pains in my joints for a long time, which I choose to ignore and distract myself from. Instead of being kind to my body, and working on strengthening and stretching the short muscles, I pretend the problem is not there, despite the fact my body is literally aching for a solution. Of course, going to yoga and stretching the affected areas is no easy task, but I try to stick with it and breathe life into every breath as I work towards ease. As the surrounding areas are strengthened, I start to feel I can enjoy the hectic sport schedule I had before.

But what about in life? Do we acknowledge and notice pain when it comes in our life? Or do we just recognise its effects and choose to ignore? Pain is a feeling that truly brings us right into our body and mind, and senses, makes us see things very clearly. Pain occurs when the surrounding areas of our life do not support our goal. When something has broken down, has become weak and no longer can cooperate. It’s like running a two-legged race with someone; if they fall, it’s terrible hard to drag them along with you and continue to the finish line.
I think a lot of times, pain signals to us that there will be something we have to soften or strengthen, and that the process won’t be easy. And sticking through a point of pain, without reacting to it, is difficult. And uncomfortable. Sometimes we just want to soldier on and “harden the f**k up”. But pain always has a purpose and is an opportunity to strengthen those weak areas and make them strong, so we are one with our purpose. Pain is an uncomfortable, yet valuable teacher.

The worst kind of pain is probably emotional. It can manifest into physical pain, but by then you probably have numbed out to it. There are times in life when we have to acknowledge our weakness; cry, get angry, feel depressed, shout out – just persevere through the weakest part, to feel a sense of freedom that comes from being strong enough to face it. Once you work through a weakness to its end, it can only become a point of strength. You have “been there, done that” and seen that even in the darkest hour, you made it through.

Yoga teachers always call their craft a ‘practice’ – because you always practice on strengthening and softening, and you need to be in continuous ‘practice’ to get better. Life does not stop after one painful event, and you never master it, as you cannot yoga. Life is about being in continuous practice to be a better and stronger you – pain is just that teacher.

Written by Copyright © SoulSurfer 24 March at 7.12pm


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