Pain, Pain, Go Away
The issue of pain in the body has been coming around more and more these days, as clients continue to come to me with some type of chronic pain, be it physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. We seem to notice it more when it is of the physical type, as that is where it manifests in its grossest form. Seeking relief from pain in whatever form it manifests itself has caused me to do some additional studying on ways to look at pain, ways to sit with it and ways to relieve it. In fact, I have felt a strong call to develop a workshop around the subject which will be entitled, “Managing Pain Through Soul Awareness”. It’s not on the books yet, but stay tuned. In the meantime, here are a few thoughts on pain and a few things to test drive to see what works for you.
What Causes Pain?
Whenever the flow of energy (prana) or physical fluids like blood or lymph is obstructed, we experience pain. Pain can be caused by spasm, inflammation, congestion, or toxin accumulation. But because they all block the movement of energy (prana), this can cause complications and disease in the body.
Do you have pain in your neck, back or shoulders? Do you suffer from a repetitive stress injury, fibromyalgia, migraines, or osteo-arthritis? According to recent national studies sponsored by Partners in Pain, at least one person in almost half of America’s households suffers from chronic pain. Of these, 78 percent are so dissatisfied with their conventional pain-control medication that they are willing to try new treatments, and 43 percent would spend more money on such a treatment if they knew it would work. Over half report that pain affects their overall mood and disturbs their sleep, and 80 percent believe their pain is something they just have to live with. Yoga has a different point of view.
Yoga teaches us to welcome and accept pain, even while trying to relieve it. Nature intends pain to be a multi-layered message to us. Underlying the immediate directive – stop using that body part! – lies a request to look into our lives and see what we are doing to create this misery.
If you tend to ignore your body’s messages until pain overwhelms you, try to catch the problem earlier. Certain unconscious habits make us more susceptible to pain such as:
[if !supportLists]· [endif]Holding your breath
[if !supportLists]· [endif]Chronically tensing your muscles
[if !supportLists]· [endif]Suppressing your emotions
[if !supportLists]· [endif]Eating over-processed, refined food
[if !supportLists]· [endif]Ingesting too much caffeine
[if !supportLists]· [endif]Not drinking enough water
If you can step back and observe which of your activities and habits contribute to the problem, you can start to undo your pain naturally.
Systematic Relaxation The next time you’re inclined to pop a pill for your symptoms, spend 10 minutes doing a systematic relaxation in Shavasana (corpse pose) instead. This practice can reduce muscle spasms, relieve tension, and calm the mind naturally.
Massage Regular oil massage is revered as a highly effective form of therapy for all sorts of ailments. Massage helps reduce pain because it relieves joint and muscle stiffness, increases circulation, mobilizes toxins, and relaxes the body. Find a qualified therapist to work with at least once a month, or more often if possible. If money is tight, simply give yourself an oil massage daily.
Diet Food is a powerful healer, too. Follow a diet of warm, moist, mildly spiced, nourishing foods for a month and see if it makes a difference. The sweet, salty and sour tastes are all pain pacifying – just make sure you find natural, healthy sources of sweets (like ripe plums, pears or dates) and don’t over-do. Overeating sometimes aggravates pain.
Gentle Yoga Pain can discourage us from stretching and moving the way we normally do, but restricting your movement will only compound the problem. Toxins accumulate where there is stagnation and congestion in the body, and this causes pain. Contracting and relaxing our muscles with gentle asanas (yoga poses) relieves the stagnation by mobilizing blood, lymph, and synovial fluid. Even 15 minutes of stretching every morning will make a world of difference.
Aromatherapy Studies show that the essential oils of rosemary and thyme increase blood flow to muscles and create warmth, while peppermint and myrtle have temporary painkilling effects. Sprinkle a few drops into an aromatherapy diffuser, a hot bath, or your massage oil – and enjoy. (If you’ve never used essential oils on your skin, test first before applying broadly.)
Herbs Tumeric and ginger help reduce inflammatory pain, while valerian, kava kava, chamomile, skullcap, passion flower and hops combat tension-related pain. And since chronic pain is often a combination of inflammation and tension, these herbs are often sold in combination formulas. They’re available online and at many health-food stores.