Thursday, February 21, 2008

When is Pain Good, and When is it a Pain? (Part 2 of 2)

(Continued from Part 1 of 2)

The higher centers of our brain are what physiologically defines us as human beings. Our capacity for compassion and self-reflection, for faith and understanding, is housed in these parts of our nervous system that are only available to us when the non-defended side of the nervous system is in charge. So rather than avoiding pain or pushing it away, you would be better served to strengthen your resourcefulness in connecting with safety in your body.

As we are able to connect with the safety in our bodies, a whole new world opens up. Growth and healing is available only when your nervous system shifts away from defense. Your higher brain centers are able to engage, and you have access to your Self, and all that makes up your humanity. Indeed, it is our unique human capacity to reflect on past experiences, on emotions and sensations, and to give them meaning. And because of how compelling it is, pain is one of the most important things to which we can assign meaning. For many of us, the start of true healing is the experience of gaining perspective on pain, even for a moment, and realizing how much influence we really have over the charge and intensity of our pain.

But with all its gifts, pain can still be a problem. A critical example is when people seeking to heal start to seek out pain, start to associate the presence and degree of pain with presence and degree of healing! We start to think that we have to be in pain to grow, that there is literally no gain without pain. And that's when pain is just a pain. Healing does NOT require plumbing the depths of your capacity to feel pain, nor is re-living every trauma and injury from your past
a pre-requisite for growth. These experiences may occur and they may not, but don't forget that the purpose of pain is to signal us to pay attention, usually when we are far off-course. It is not the actual road to healing, and it is certainly not the only way to focus our attention!

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