Relationship to pain

By Kathrin Seitz and Mark Felix | Apr 23, 2011

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

“Find ways to be with those who are suffering.”

-- Gautama Buddha

 

Tara in Waldoboro, who has just undergone heart surgery, asks about our relationship to pain.

 

Kathrin's perspective:

I became interested in my relationship to pain as a result of living with a fractured hip for four months and then undergoing surgery to repair the hip. Both moments involved pain. The curious thing about the first stage of this period is that I did not know I had fractured my hip for three months. I knew something was amiss and, as a result, I used a walker. But I stopped taking pain medication two weeks into the three months because I don’t love what pain medicine does to my body and psyche and because I found the pain tolerable. I continued my life, as I knew it, with the containment that came from using a walker. And I became interested in what this pain and this period of time might teach me. When I met the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me, he said that I had what our culture would call “a high tolerance of pain.” To me, that meant that I didn’t get anxious when I had pain; but rather, curious.

My attitude was: What could I learn? As Jean Forest, a local transformational therapist says: “Writers from various cultures and spiritual and psychological traditions (Jung and Rogers), encourage us to befriend pain. Befriending pain is turning towards it, breathing into it, opening to it, being compassionate towards it, being curious about it.”

So, I befriended my pain, figuring it was there to teach me something. A psychiatrist friend of mine in New York City, Dr. Joanne Intrator, says: “Pain is good.... It tells us something is wrong. Anxiety makes pain worse. We need to see pain in the context of its role in identifying that which needs healing.” And, I would add, the healing we need might be on a physical, psychological and spiritual level.

Then I underwent a 3.5-hour operation and entered into the life of the hospital and pain medication. I applied medication to myself by pushing a button (the continual feed of morphine by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain medication necessary as the brain of the injured controls the dosage). That was a new experience!

When I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, I was given medication every three hours. As I look back, I know I was still in a recovery zone, not quite conscious, but having to learn to negotiate with strict hip restrictions and three hours of physical therapy a day. The pain medication helped. But when I returned home, almost two weeks after the operation, I realized, with a bit of delay, that I no longer required the serious medication – I did not like what it did to my sense of consciousness and what it did to my body’s functioning. I had been schooled in the tradition of befriending pain. I talked to my pain, to my hip, to the titanium plate that was sitting on my right haunch.

Yet I know many stories of people who, in my condition, become addicted to pain medication, and, perhaps, to pain. So I researched the latest studies around pain, and discovered a world where everything is shifting. The latest studies on brain plasticity (see Norman Doidge about whom The New York Times says: “The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... with implications for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history”) teach us that the brain has an unbelievable ability to mold and change pain.

Add this research to that of Lorimer Moseley and David Butler (thank you to my physical and occupational therapists Mariah Grant and Jessica Dyer for pointing me to this research), who have published "Explain Pain", which reviewers say “encourages patients to move better and research shows that they will have less pain once they have understood its underlying cause." You begin to have a way to deal with your pain, and, in fact, a way out of pain.

I would encourage anyone suffering from chronic pain or pain due to an event of any kind, to study the newest research on pain. Perhaps you will find relief and, even, enlightenment.

 

 

Marc’s Perspective:

Since Kathrin has talked about physical pain, I’d like to balance out the picture by talking about emotional pain.

Everyone agrees that when you hit your thumb with a hammer or stub your toe or fracture your hip you’re going to have pain. Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. A broken heart can be more painful than a broken arm. In fact, emotional pain is so much more uncomfortable than physical pain that many people have given themselves a physical injury to distract themselves from their emotional pain.

Emotional pain has always been with us. The vocabulary may change. What was “shell shock” in World War I became “battle fatigue” in World War II and “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” in the Vietnam War; but it’s all still emotional pain. It’s still suffering.

I’ve learned in my practice that it’s the repression of pain that gets people in trouble. Pushing our pain away is exhausting and the emotional pain that we push away continues to steep inside us creating more and more toxins. Our bodies will become tense and eventually that emotional pain can result in physical illness.

Pushing emotional pain deeper and deeper inside you is like compressing a spring. Eventually you will have an explosion.

Popular ways that people avoid emotional pain is by intellectualizing, overeating, escaping into TV, drinking, smoking, shopping, taking medication, or becoming workaholics escaping into constant activity.

Pain is meant to be felt and expressed. Feel your painful feelings as they happen. Remain present. Welcome them. Find a mode of expression for your painful feelings. Write. Draw or paint. Pound clay. Pound a pillow. Dance. Make noise.

Pain is telling us that something needs to change, and we need to listen to our pain whether it’s physical or emotional. We need to hear its message, get the lesson it is trying to teach us. This is where a good therapist can be a great guide.

Often an early psychological wound is so significant it becomes the foundation for a lifetime of patterns. It might have been an alcoholic parent, an abusive sibling, a father’s absence, a mother’s smothering, the witnessing of an accident, a friend’s betrayal, or maybe a combination of events. All of us have suffered such emotional wounds, no matter how healthy our families were.

I now regard these wounds like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster: In an attempt to deal with the irritation the oyster coats the sand till it becomes the shining pearl. If we go deep into our wounds, and allow them to do their work without repressing them, then an emotional wound can become just such a pearl; a jeweled invitation to our soul’s healing.

 

 

 

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