Many of us live with pain day in and day out, and there seems to be nothing we can do about it. Maybe it is only lurking in a corner of our mind, maybe our entire life is subordinated to it. What is pain anyway? We probably all agree that it is something we want to get rid of. But why does it happen and what is it trying to tell us? Let us see what we can learn from it.
What is pain and what is it telling us
The online Oxford dictionary defines pain as a “highly unpleasant physical sensation caused by illness or injury”, and lists as its second meaning “mental suffering or distress”. Since pain can result from both physical and mental discomfort, it is clear that both body and mind are susceptible to it. Pain takes many forms. Scratch. Blow. Contusion. Illness. Sleeping disorder. Threat. Stomach pain. Hand or leg numbness. Pain can be severe or mild, but we always know it is there – and it is usually trying to tell us something.
Sometimes the message is clear. If we have stomach ache during the week but not on weekends, maybe we should change our job. We probably all know what sort of pain a night of excessive drinking causes. No matter what the message, remember that the human body is a superb machine, which works perfectly provided all the conditions are met. When there is a problem, however, it will sound an alarm – and it is up to us to hear it. Unfortunately, many of us are not prepared to do that.
In fact, pain is often the body’s last resort, the final means with which it tries to tell us that something is not right in our life, that we have strayed from our path of good connection between body and mind and are doing something wrong. No matter what we do with it, our body will always strive to preserve the best health and operate at optimum efficiency. But if we (ego) drain it (with work overload, excessive exercise, being relentless towards ourselves), we are abusing it and thus creating the perfect conditions for the development of disorders and illnesses.
How to eliminate it
What do we usually do when we are in pain, be it due to a headache, heartburn or strained muscle? We usually look for help in a medicine cabinet or go to a pharmacy. Much rarely do we think of our daily routine (daily chores, work, exercise, relationships) and that it might need changing. By resorting to pain- killers we are in fact telling our body, »Be quiet. I don’t want (or can’t) to listen to you. « Pain will disappear for a while, but it will come back stronger or in different form. We will then probably visit our doctor, get a prescription or an injection for pain. But make no mistake; this will leave the cause of our problem intact.
If we refuse to see our real problem (not enough sleep, persistent fatigue, poor diet, bad running posture, etc.) for too long, the occasional discomfort may develop into a serious health condition. It is therefore of paramount importance that we pay attention to what goes on inside our body and stay alert to potential warning signs. The solution could be very simple: you might just need a good night’s sleep or a day or two of absence from work. Do not allow yourself to think: »No, I can really not afford to do this (e.g. take leave from work, sleep longer, and eat healthier food). «
The solution could be very simple: you might just need a good night’s sleep or a day or two of absence from work. Do not allow yourself to think: »No, I can really not afford to do this (e.g. take leave from work, sleep longer, and eat healthier food). «
Think rather what could be the root cause of your problem, and do not shy away from changes that can only help you. Allow yourself to listen to your body, because your body only wants what is good for you, it wants to be healthy. And you sure need to play a major part in this.
Aleš Ernst, author of the AEQ method and AEQ breathing