Friday, September 26, 2014


"Why do we feel pain? Do you know?"

The question jumped into my head from my son, who stood behind me as I was busy browsing something on my laptop this afternoon.

"What is our body trying to tell us through pain?", he continued.

It came too suddenly for me to respond coherently. And anyway, I need time to think through before a response forms inside. So I told him that while I thought about it a little more and found the words to share, he could tell me what he thought about pain and why we feel pain.

"I think maybe it is a signal....telling us that the body is protects us. I also think that pain tells us that the body is already starting to heal," he added.

"So you feel that when you get hurt physically, the pain that you feel is actually useful, because it is telling you that something is wrong, that you are hurt, and also that the body is already starting to heal?" I asked.

"Yes," he said.

And then we went on to talk about how each of us experiences pain differently, how we have different levels of tolerance to pain, and about the pain we feel inside when we feel 'hurt' because of what someone has said or done.

It was a lovely exploration for both of us. I liked what he said about pain telling us that the body is already doing what it can to heal itself. It left me with so many more questions - some that had come up earlier, but which had sunk back into some forgotten corner of my mind.

Why do we want to get rid of pain? 
Why do we go to a doctor? 
Why don't we trust our own body and its capacity to heal when we are in pain?
Can we ever get to that space however great our pain?

As these questions bobbed up and down inside, I realised that physical pain is actually something that I feel only in the moment. The greatest physical pain that I have felt up until now - labour pains and  pain during childbirth - is something that I have no physical memory of...that is, however hard I try to relive those moments now, I cannot remember and feel the pain now as I had probably felt it then. My memory of pain is only through my feelings, emotions, visual images or words that are associated with that event.

So then, what is pain? 
Why is it that I do not remember 'pain' as pain? 
Is that in itself telling me something? 
Is pain just a reminder for us to get back into our body, stay with it and trust it? 
Is it a way of letting us know that all we need to do is to be aware of the pain and our body? 
Is it telling us to just stop what we are so busy doing, to just slow down and 'rest' into life or what is happening?

I don't know the answers to these questions, and I am okay to not know. Maybe I will discover something about it as I go along and live my life. Or maybe not. As of now, I am happy to stay with these questions and see where they take me and my son. He will learn what he needs to about pain and so will I. And every now and then perhaps we will meet to check and share what each of us has discovered about it and ourselves. What a beautiful way to live that would be!

So what is your relationship with pain?
What is your story of pain?

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