Chronic pain can be seriously uncomfortable, so the search for quick relief is understandable. When the body feels broken and suffering, the last thing we want to do is explore the unpleasant feelings on a deeper level. We’re already hyperalert that something is wrong, and while awareness is vital to treatment, in this case, it’s not enough. The answer is not about getting more wrapped up in the condition or latest cure, but rather shifting our focus onto partnering with the body to off-load the distress.
Oftentimes, our coping mechanisms come at a cost. They compound the problem and alienate us from the source of our deepest strength—the body itself. We are hardwired from infancy to seek equilibrium. This primal intelligence is the healing remedy we need to get better. The urge to shake a leg, yawn, stomp our feet, grimace, or even growl is not as bizarre as it may seem. What appears to be fidgeting is actually a sign of our most root-level intelligence at work. Over time, however, we get socialized out of many of the natural instincts that we know to comfort and heal ourselves. More commonly, we are taught to avoid the uncomfortable feelings by turning them off rather than trusting in our bodies to fully respond.
There is a purpose to all discomfort; it’s a signal that something requires attention, care, and rest. Nothing is by accident—all sensations have insights to share. Our challenge is to tune in to, not turn from, these important cues. The body speaks in the form of feelings, sensations, and emotions. This dialogue often transcends rational discretion but can be accessed and translated through our thoughts. We must consider all physical prompts as powerful messengers, and use our thoughts to shape how we choose to address each need. When we learn to trust in our body’s wisdom (feelings) and tap into the power of our mind (thoughts), we begin to cultivate a more intimate relationship with our innate ability to heal. We find relief within, the lasting solution—and become more comfortable in our own skin.
- Stay curious. Shed the heaviness of excessive worrying by challenging yourself to stay curious. Meet the body’s cues when painful thoughts or sensations arise with the question “How do I know?” For example, you may ask, “How do I know I am feeling pain?” It’s not a trick question. You obviously already “know” (your head is pounding or there is a burning sensation in your chest), but by asking, you approach the experience with an open mind. Take a moment to experience the textures, tones, and temperature of the sensations, and meet those sensations with caring attention.
- Comfort zone. Instead of zoning out, increase staying power with uncomfortable feelings by defining what brings you real comfort and relief. Set the stage for healing by surrounding yourself with people, places, and things that support your ability to tune in and stay curious.
- Write your own healing story. You are the main character of your story. Explore the following questions: Why is it important to heal? How will you go about your healing process? What do you need to support you? When will you make time to receive this support? And where will you go to get it? If you’re stumped by these questions, simply tune in to the breath as the omniscient narrator, fact finder, and muse, and then allow the body to move or make sounds that express the whole story.