Our relationship to physical pain like all things in life is varied. Studies indicate that our level of pain does not necessarily correlate with the physiological happenings in our body. Or to put it another way, two people of similar age, sex, health and weight can experience the same accident and report their pain levels to be at opposite ends of the spectrum. It appears that how we perceive our level of pain is still a mysterious process.
Suffering and pain are often spoken about in tandem. If there is pain, there is suffering. Right? They are like fingers of the same glove. But are they, and do they have to be? What is suffering? Suffering is often associated with a sense of stress and loss. We are feeling that something positive has been removed from our lives and we may feel upset, annoyed, angry, anxious, sad, needing to blame some-one or some-thing. For example, if we are unwell, we may focus on the fact that we are missing out on life, via employment, income, sport, social activities, hobbies etc. Our sense of emotional well-being can diminish and we can have a feeling of loss of control.
Mindfulness can be a key in lessening suffering, even physical pain.
Recently, I had an experience that I will share. See where it takes you as you read the following. Do you feel neutral as you read it? Pity? Empathy? My friend and I were out in the magnificent sunshine peddling our bikes. A feeling of fullness was bubbling up inside of me and I turned back and called out “I feel like my heart could burst open with gratitude right now.” Life felt amazing and in that moment I felt blessed. I have an abundant life. A companion, house, family, friends, wellness, fulfilling work, wonderful hobbies, immersion in nature, lots of life options etc etc.
Five minutes later we came to a blind, 45 degree angle bend on the track and my companion whizzed round the corner first. I heard something like a low, “aaaargggh” and as I rounded the fenced corner, he was on the ground and I had no-where to go. (His back wheel hit a gum nut and had slid out beneath him) It felt like I hit him in slow motion. Over the top of him and smacked my left shoulder hard into the asphalt. I couldn’t move as I could feel the impact resounding through my body. ‘Don’t move,’ says my intuition. Slowly.
Footsteps were running towards us. An elderly gent out on his morning walk saw our fall. My immediate response was to see how I was feeling emotionally beyond the pain, because that is a practice of mine. The physical pain was intense. I was shaking and the shoulder, neck and ribs were burning. I was feeling a bit ‘out of it,’ but in that moment I was not “suffering.”
My companion was unscathed and quickly stepped into first aid mode. I had loving assistance. I felt a burst of gratitude. The elderly walker sat with me while my companion peddled back home to collect a car. My lovely house mate was home again yesterday after 6 months of being away, so I won’t be alone. I only had 2 clients to shift and I could rest for the next 4 days. Can you feel where I went? I was not focusing on the negative. All the factors of my abundant life that I listed as I headed out on my bike that morning, were still true. The bigger picture.
X-rays showed that I had fractured my collar bone and 5 ribs. I watched as love all around me came to assist my healing. Friends brought cooked food and helped me get into bed, shower me, drive me to appointments. My house mate checks in to see what he can do regularly.
A feeling of fullness bubbles up inside of me, I am truly blessed……