Physical pain and Creativity
– Part 1 of 3 –
Hello Life Artists!
Studies estimate that upwards of 75% of us suffer from chronic physical pain, with over 300 million dealing with anxiety, and depression yearly! What is going on here? Why are we suffering instead of thriving? Of course, we have many moments of pain, but how has this become our chronic state of being? We all know pain and as it is such a primary and diverse experience in our lives I will cover this subject briefly in three different videos.
In the first, we will describe the natural movement of pain, how it functions in the body, and why this primal instinct is needed.
In week two we will look at emotional pain
And week three we will discuss and train to release of historical pain or old patterns held in our body from past experiences that prevent us in our present life from moving forward.
What is pain for the body and how does the body uses and work with it?
As a basic definition, Pain ultimately is a sign for the body to take action, to move, to contract away from or push away in response to a potential or actual threat to our wellbeing and survival. Without pain we would be long dead. In fact, there are those born with no pain response, and they die early, they simply have no attention to what is dangerous or could injure them or for that matter what has injured them. Imagine if you never felt the pain of burning yourself, the fire would never be a threat. In other words: Pain also allows us to learn from our body what is safe and how to maneuver within our world as well as to care for our self when we are hurt.
When we experience pain, our bodies natural response is to move or as with fear to freeze and protect or defend. Fight or flight responses kick in and a flood of survival chemicals move through our system. Our muscles take action moving us away from the pain or in the case of freezing we get ready for action, we shrink back and protect our soft spots, our chests, bellies, head. We stiffen our backs and hold our breath and build a protective shell around us, very literally. And we go into a state of high alert and attention. This attention serves us to remain alert to further action and future possible pain. When the situation, in reality, does not bring more pain than in a short while this state of alert calms, our muscles and breathing relax and our movements become fluid again. We move back into states of connection and if there is injury, all this energy and attention mobilizes towards healing. Instead of retreating and pushing away, we relax, open up and get back to living. This is the ideal case.
So how does pain lead to suffering?
- Very simply. We suffer when the healthy response to pain, to something hurting us, becomes stuck and unable to respond to what is actual and needed in the present moment. We instead react through fixed and repeated patterns of contracting, holding, retreating away, and defending eventually leading to loss of health and movement and physical and emotional numbing. These held contracted states do not allow the movement that would return us to stasis resulting in chronic physical and emotional pain and suffering.
2. Our bodies are meant to withstand challenge, to deal with pain is part of being alive. We are unbelievably resilient and have amazing healing capacities and the body will repair itself magnificently if the pain is:
a. not too severe, and
b. if the pain is not ongoing, sustained over a long period of time.
3. We are the only animal that has “forgotten” its natural ability to return to physical stasis after danger/pain is over. Have you ever seen an animal who is hurt? They find a quiet place and they shake, they vibrate, rest and heal quickly. They know that if they are not up and moving, they are food.
This natural function of the body, to vibrate shaking off the excess effort, fear, tension, is the natural and very powerful “movement” to return our body to stasis. In hospitals now, after operations, they get the patient up and moving within hours of the operation because they recognize that movement is the body’s natural flow into health. Anything that is alive moves and the less we move the more we “die” emotionally and mentally as well.
Movement is the process that allows healing. Have you ever been really afraid, or in pain? your body shakes, your jaw rattles, this is your body mobilizing all that energy to heal, to find balance, and act within the situation at hand.
But so many of us, when we are in pain, repress our natural movements. Instead, we tend to try to overcome the pain, be strong, get by and hide or ignore the pain. This is expressed as contracting around the area of pain so as to not feel it, holding the area frozen, and trying not to think about or give the pain, or painful situation any attention. If all goes well, and it is not too severe, or not too long the body heals despite our efforts to ignore the pain.
But this effort to ignore comes at a cost, it takes great effort and energy to ignore pain, the effort that shows up in contraction and a consistent loss of energy. All that energy, which the body needs to heal, to be attentive to what is happening around us, to feel the situation and in doing so know how to move, act, and respond, we divert into our beliefs about the pain, shame and ensuing actions of overcoming, ignoring, avoiding and pushing away.
The longer we practice this approach to pain, the less able our body is able to heal. And more importantly, the more this habit and physical state of the body is solidified, the more this pain becomes a chronic state of contraction. And as we maintain this contraction we literally “hold on” to pain. Our experience is very literal. When we habitually and continuously contract around pain, we keep it and then our experience becomes full of held pain. i.e.: 300 million suffering from depression anxiety and chronic pain.
- Stuck pain is a movement of retreat or resistance that never completes itself instead of becoming frozen mid-way. Our numbed chests, our hunched shoulders, our contracted bellies are all vulnerable areas which we tried to protect in moments of pain which over time have simply stayed contracted, stuck in a perpetual state of protection.
What it looks like in our bodies are muscles, bones, breathing, and patterns of movement that remain chronically contracted and retreating, held and on alert although in our reality there is no longer a threat.
What it feels like in our experience is survival. Stress, anxiety, anxiousness, an undercurrent of being constantly on alert robbing us of quiet, peacefulness, rest and ultimately our creativity and joy. Our creativity does not thrive when we are in survival mode.
- Retreating, going inward, becoming passive all are natural flows in response to pain and very needed for healing. Remember that animals find a quiet place and become passive allowing the body to shake, energy to flow uninterrupted. This naturally happens when we are hurt, frightened, or unsure. If we can recognize this and be kind to ourselves, we can move into self-awareness and self-care.
This is the space where we could allow for moments of passivity and the natural vulnerability of meeting pain in all forms to flow. To cry, to rest, to grieve, to feel the pain that is there. Instead of contracting and defending away from it instead of hardening our hearts, toughening up and becoming rigid and defensive to ourselves, our body, the situation or others, we can release our beliefs about pain, drop the pretense, the physical holding patterns and emotional resistance, and instead allow something new to happen with pain. Allowing the pain to teach us, to let the unknown shift us, embodying a time to check-in with ourselves and allow solutions and healing to arise.
Pain will always be a part of our lives. Learning to respond to pain with movement, in the moment, as well as in the process of recovery from painful situations both emotionally and physically allows us to heal and return to flow. Moving with and through pain both in action and as a beautiful life metaphor is essential to our happiness, health and creative flow states.
And I will leave you with this; Do you know why cats purr? Cats are known for their capacity to leap great heights and distances. Landing on their bones creates mini bone breaks which they heal through the whole-body vibration of purring.
Be cat like in your response to pain. Leap, adventure, jump to great heights, and when you meet pain, and possible injury to your being instead of ignoring, contracting, and holding on to pain, learn to purr, learn to allow movement and vibration to heal you.
Making decisions – IN SUMMARY
- Pain ultimately is a sign for the body to take action – to move and to contract away from or push away in response to a potential or actual threat to our wellbeing and survival.
- We suffer when the healthy response to pain becomes stuck and unable to respond to what is actually needed in the present moment.
- Stuck pain is a movement of retreat or resistance that never completes itself – instead of becoming frozen and held indefinitely – creating our posture and chronic states of pain.
- Going inward, taking time out and becoming passive – all are natural flows in response to pain and very needed for healing.
- Pain will always be a part of our lives. Learning to respond to pain with movement, in the moment as well as in the process of recovering from painful situations, both emotionally and physically, allows us to heal and return to flow.
And remember –
You are the Creator – when you embody your creativity – you manifest your dreams!
NOW JOIN US IN THE COLLECTIVE
The place where we talk it out as a community – get involved, share your truth, your struggles, thoughts, and wins!
Answer this questions to yourself and comment your answers below!
Do you experience chronic physical pain? How does this affect your daily actions and creativity? What are your strategies when you experience physical pain?
How did the physical training change the pain that you are experiencing now and shifted your ability to move with this pain? How do you plan on implementing this training into your daily life?
COMMENT AND GET INVOLVED BELOW!
Creative D.R.I.V.E. in ACTION
Weekly implementation to deepen your practice! Simply do yourself a favor and while working with these questions – STAY PHYSICAL!
1. Describe the physical pain you experience describing such as depth, weight, size, texture, weight, and movement.
2. Practice the embodied practice of Willing – to shift and move your perception of pain.
3. Describe what you are experiencing and possibly learning from this pain in your life right now.