As much as we want to live in a free world, and in the US we have the declaration of independence to lead the way, freedom is a concept that just does not exist for some of us. Our healthcare system has for too long been the focus of quick fixes which is not sustainable. Our government functions in the same way, although there is a trend in the Veterans Administration Health Care system to move toward a more alternative and wellness direction. This is very hopeful, as it is spreading to the profit sector as well.
For many, chronic pain has a way of placing a stranglehold on our lives, reducing our freedom to live as before. We become accustomed to chronic pain especially, as it becomes “familiar”, or “of the family” so to speak. We may become so used to our pain, we cannot imagine not having it. We may even look for it when we wake up, or in a quiet moment during the day, like a friend who has come to live with us. This true friend gave us an important warning signal that something was wrong, and the emotion of the event was part of what locked in the painful feelings related to the physical injury and the pain then became trapped in the cell. As the original assault healed, compensation patterns were created in other parts of the body and the original injury was glossed over as if it was all better. If not corrected, the compensations problems will add insult to injury and our entire system learns to manage what was once, a long time ago, an event that will not be quieted.
Emotional assaults cause physical holding patterns, and physical assaults cause emotional patterns as well. Without pain, what is there? Freedom of movement, greater mobility, returning to a life that has been restricted. Are we ready to do the work needed to rehabilitate, reinvent and integrate fully back into our lives?
Between the the compensation patterns that occur (the body is great at holding things together in an emergency, to reduce further damage), the ease of saying no to social events that are challenging, and maybe even being off work, healing seems like a chore. Stick with it, pleasure is around the corner! Kahlil Gibran says “the pain is the unbreaking of the shell that encompasseth our understanding”. What does pain teach us?
As we get older, the amount of time needed to heal is longer, as our cellular repair is slower as we age. But change is possible, and we become more thoughtful and involved in our inner world as we age. We can extend healthy years, if we focus on doing everything we can to prevent cell death. One sure way to age faster is to stop moving, stop interacting and stop living. Slowing down and becoming more conscious is not the same as stopping.
Spiritual teachers like Thomas Moore, author of Ageless Soul, and forty other books about the soul, cites “we need to allow ourselves the depth of our sadness as well as our happiness, and a lot of soul work happens during these times”. Pain takes the toll on us emotionally, and depression and sadness from the loss of our freedom to move and interact as before needs serious reflection. Who am I with this pain, who was I without it? Finally, we are stopped in our tracks, to evaluate our path. How to make sense of our world, and the meaning of the pain, sadness, and possible isolation you may feel? How does chronic pain relate to the soul?
There are plenty of methods to help you heal. Alternative methods of healing, like the Trager Approach, massage, Reiki, sound and vibrational healing, counseling, biofeedback, guided imagery, breathing techniques and even reading inspirational material may be helpful to change the pain patterns. Find some support, experience a new type of bodywork, draw your feelings, draw your pain body. Listen deeply to your inner voice, and pleasure will delight and surprise you. Notice the moments during the day when you smile without cause, or find yourself singing. Notice how often you are free from pain, even if for a moment, and how that feels. Take it in small doses. Move more slowly, in a way that feels good to you. You will develop a tolerance to pleasure, as you did the pain or the medication you took to subdue it. . pleasure is powerful medicine.
Make that declaration of interdependence today, and find a team to help you move towards greater freedom in your body, your life. Follow the freedom trail, and honestly, we cannot change these deep seated painful patterns alone, whether they have to do with our personal pain, or our societal pain. We need each other. Let’s look for ways in which things are working well, and celebrate that!