Pain is a Powerful Messenger

Tiffany Wood in Uttanasana Yoga Pose
Photo by Lee Aldridge

All pain, whether it's physical, mental, or emotional, is simply asking you to make a correction. It is a sign that you have encountered a limitation in yourself. When you look at your pain as a powerful teacher, it can inspire the introspection necessary to uncover the hidden lesson that will lead you back to the path of peace and harmony. The ancient Sage Patanjali called thisTapas. Tapas can be translated as the acceptance of challenges as a means for purification. Tapas refers to the effort required to willingly embark into the uncomfortable and challenging in order to produce benefits that will enhance your life in time.

Give pain the respect it is attempting to command and give it a voice.

This life changing technique is referred to as Svadhyaya in Patanjali's Yoga Sutra 2.1. Svadhyaya is self inquiry and study of anything that will elevate your consciousness and bring you back to the remembrance of your true Self. Those who practice yoga are cultivating the means to look within and embrace all aspects of life. So, tapas isn't about a pessimistic resignation to suffering! Rather, it is about nurturing the intimate relationship with the intelligence that animates life. Instead of pushing away pain and labeling it inconvenient at best and debilitating at its worst, open to it and listen.

The voice of pain could be asking you to have the difficult conversation you absolutely don't want to have. It could be asking you to set better boundaries with your clients so that you have the down time you so deserve and need. It could be asking you to own up to a self destructive pattern such as spending money you don't have to buy things that only temporarily make you feel whole. Maybe that nagging headache you've had for a month now is asking you to stop trying so hard and realize you have nothing to prove. Your pain can and will get louder and louder until you eventually get the message and begin creating from new inspiration, or you hit rock bottom and completely surrender to the situation where you then get to build up from scratch.

Patanjali would rather us engage Ishwara Pranidhana, surrender to a higher power, not by hitting bottom, but from a place of consciousness. Once you identify the necessary corrections that will bring you back to the path of joy and bliss, voluntarily let go of your personal desires for the sake of the greater good. Devote yourself to uplifting humanity with your actions and watch your life take on a different view!

So, think of the pains you experience in life as seeds of wisdom that hold the potential to bear luscious fruit. Settle down into the pain and inquire patiently awaiting the lesson to reveal itself. Utilize your desire, your Tapas, to know joy and freedom by planting the seed of pain into the dark fertile soil of your intention to grow. Use Svadhyaya, self study, to discover how you can best inspire the appropriate actions and choices to keep you on track so the voice of pain doesn't have to become overbearing. Finally, remember, the tree never eats its own fruits. Ishwara Pranidhana beckons that once something has ripened, we allow it to be passed along.

Pain is a powerful messenger. Open to the journey, love what is in the moment. Identify the new behaviours needed and then willingly implement them, and finally, make your life an offering to the Highest set forth in gratitude. May you live in joy, health, peace, and clarity.