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Grow Your Spiritual Capacities by Turning Towards Your PAIN – Physical, Mental or Psycho-Spiritual

Our modern human instinct is to run in the opposite direction of pain, and when it does show up our reaction is usually to want it gone as fast as possible. 

To be clear, I’m not conflating the “pain” of working out or holding down a job you hate with the pain I’m talking about: the pain of disconnection, grief, loneliness, sorrow, heartbreak, loss, anguish; the physical pain of injury, illness, disease; the pain of doing hard things in relationships like confronting someone we love, asking for our needs to be met, setting healthy boundaries and taking full responsibility for our own choices, mess-ups and how we impact others. 

I don’t know about you, but no one taught me how to be with these types of pain, let alone how to enter into right relationship with them to the degree they no longer scare me. I had to learn this for myself, and the spiritual capacities I’ve cultivated (as a result of what felt to me like instinctive death leaps into the unknown) continue to serve me. These spiritual capacities are what allow me to even be here on the internet, doing what I do. 

By facing my pain – emotional, physical and psycho-spiritual – I’ve discovered a deep well of courage I didn’t know I had when I was younger; I discovered my life’s purpose, and a faith big enough sometimes I think it contains the whole cosmos. That faith is a faith in nature, in life itself, in my body, in my own intuitions and instincts and in whatever “life curriculum” is currently happening in my life, and out there in the world. 

I don’t know what gifts await you, but I do know they’re there…waiting for you to say “yes” to this grand adventure of discovery. 

This isn’t for the faint of heart; though I can tell you it’s 1000% worth the price of admission. 

Whatever pain you’re facing RIGHT NOW…whatever has your attention the most: that’s what you turn towards. 

Is it a physical injury/pain?
Is it mental/emotional pain?
Is it psycho-spiritual? 

Name whatever it is, and then describe the meaning or story you’re currently assigning this pain. Don’t be enlightened here, describe this in your most vulnerable authenticity. Usually our stories about pain are dire: we’re afraid it means we won’t get to do what we love anymore, or as we age; we’re afraid we’re unlovable, or we won’t feel fulfilled in our careers and we might die before we ever found our purpose…

Your story (or meaning) about this current pain indicates what awaits you on the other side of walking straight into it. For example: maybe your pain is physical, and you’re afraid you won’t be able to do your favorite activities anymore. Maybe this fear even has you wondering if you’ll be in pain for the rest of your life, doomed to years of misery. 

What you might discover, if you allow this pain to be your teacher and guide you towards new wisdom, is that you’re far more resilient then you ever imagined.

You might learn so much about pain during this journey that pain stops scaring you at all, and you know deep down you’ll live the rest of your life feeling capable of your favorite activities. But more than that, you’ve learned how it feels to inhabit your body – and life – with courage, curiosity and confidence that you can figure anything out, including pain. You start sharing what you’ve discovered with your friends and family, and pretty soon you’re influencing those around you to inhabit their bodies – and lives – with newfound confidence and trust in their bodies! 

This is entirely possible for every single one of you readers. This faux scenario perfectly describes my journey. At age 24 I was certain I’d be doomed to workout in a gym the rest of my life, never to climb another mountain (now, at age 39, this is laughable to me!) 

Will you share in the comments below which category of pain has your attention right now? 

Then, you’re going to make the commitment to turn towards that pain. That means two things primarily:

  1. Welcome the pain. Get curious about it. Learn to be with it, without wishing it away. Try to listen to your body/mind/soul and open yourself to the message that wants to come through. This is a lifelong practice btw – not a one and one! When you embrace this path, it means that whatever pain comes your way, you won’t seek to eliminate it until you’ve received the message.
  2. Educate yourself about whatever category your pain is in:

    Learning about your body, what it’s made of, how it functions, why and how pain happens…

    Or learning about the human psyche and our emotional landscape; diving into trauma theory, family dynamics or whatever else has your attention.

    Or, maybe you’re pursuing spiritual learning. I used the term ‘psycho-spiritual’ above because I believe sometimes these are related, and we feel a kind of inner angst when we don’t have a purpose, when we feel adrift or disconnected from a higher sense of self or world. I like to think of this category as the communication pathway between your “I” consciousness (awakened self) and god/universal intelligence/spirit (however you think of the greater wisdom out there in the natural world).

Please share your thoughts below, I can’t wait to hear from you on this one!

Elisha 

6 Comments

  • carol says:

    Thank you Elisha
    I know that I have all of these pain types in different amounts, and sure most of us do.
    I have been avoiding going down the rabbit hole
    My ms and resulting pain and the robbing of my physical abilities I feel is my body’s attempt to get my attention.
    I think maybe it’s about having the “courage”
    To sing out loud about who I am
    During this time I’ve lost my business, my marriage, although my children have always been my biggest fans.
    I’ve always felt that I could do more, be more, make the world a better place, if only…if only what?

    I also had a bout with trigeminal neuralgia, which is called the “suicide” pain
    There was no way to sit with that pain, so my face and brain were zapped so severely that I feel I will never be a whole person.

    Spiritually
    I have delved in ways similarly to you
    Deepak and his meta human
    Yes on David goggins

    At present I’m in a good holding pattern but I want to thrive
    I’m trying to get stronger so that when I do get stem cell I will be ready

    Well I feel in alignment with all you say
    Must break for now

    Carol

    • Hi Carol – thank you for watching/reading and sharing your thoughts. This isn’t easy work. It’s the bravest work I know of. I salute your courage. I love what you said about singing who you are out loud. YES to that!

  • Bertha says:

    I’m all in ,your explanation makes a lot sense .I think our pain cause and illness is a combination of the examples that you gave .It’s a gift that i’m giving myself by trying to practice everyday on my physical pain,mental- emotional and psycho – spiritual because I also feel they are related .Keep on sharing your knowledge and what you have experience in life .It sure gives a comfort feeling hearing from you ! Thank-You so much Elisha

  • Toni Smith says:

    Thank-you for sharing all of your knowledge and experiences. I have had migraines all my life with the past 15 years as chronic. Pain was not my friend and caused me to lose my job, friends, and recreational activities (long distance running, competitive rowing, volleyball, skiing, going to concerts). Pain from migraines is debilitating leaving you unable to think beyond just getting through it. There are times I wish for death when nothing else works. I eat healthy, am a healthy weight, am active when able, have a spiritual practice, meditate, subscribe to positive podcasts from people living with chronic illnesses. The story I tell myself is “I caused this” even though I know better; “I serve no purpose because I am unable to contribute to society through work or volunteering” (can’t make plans because you never know when a migraine will attack). Migraine dictates your life leaving you with absolutely no sense of control over anything. From that I learned surrender and acceptance. Surrendering , letting go of need to control and accepting that this condition is a part of my life and to “make friends with it” instead of hating what it took from me. I still miss my hyperactive lifestyle but learning to soften to the pain has made room for more participation in my slower paced life. I have learned to be grateful for all that I have such as a comfortable, safe place to take care of pain when it hits. I still wish I didn’t have migraines but I try to focus on the “now” not looking back or ahead just right here, right now. Thank-you again.

  • Maya Solis says:

    Hello Elisha!!
    I found your channel recently and all of the information resonates so much with me. I have been telling everyone I know who is in pain about fascia for the last 10 years and everyone who has taken the time to listen now understands their pain much better and how to get out of it. I unfortunately, injured my back at work when I was just 23 years old and ended up having back surgery on my lower back, laminectomy and fusion of l4,5-S1. I also had both of my sons by c-section which made it that much more difficult to build the muscle back after surgery. I was prescribed fentnyal, 3 patches every 3 days!! Can you believe that? I got myself off of all those horrible pain medications because I did not want to live my life in a fog. I have had a ton of scar tissue that has developed in my body, I have an internal bone simulator unit that was placed inside me at the time of the surgery that was without my authorization or knowledge. That is still inside me right now, all these years later. I was in a horribly abusive relationship with the father of my son. My son was diagnosed with Leukemia at 15 months and his father could not handle any of it. He decided that everything was my fault and that I needed to deal with it. all he did was terrorize me. I had to leave with the shirt on my back and my kid in my arms. He committed suicide 6 months later. My son went thru his treatment successfully and is turning 21 this year!! Spiritually I know I am here to save the world and make it a better place for all humans.I have survived some of the most tragic events a person can go thru and I am still here. I went down the rabbit hole a number of years ago and figured out that I have been living as a targeted individual the last 15 years and understand that I need to call more attention to the powers that be and what their intention is for all of us. The world is a very different place than what we grew up thinking it was and it is important that we all look at the reality of our situation and move forward accordingly with everything in tact. We are in a very important time for humanity and it will take all of us lifting up our hearts to bring about the change we need to see. I have lived my life in pain everyday and I am ready to own it and not run from it. I want to run to it and thru it. Thank you for providing this most important information for people. This is a much needed approach to pain and trauma!

  • Thanks for opening new doors-I I embrace the theory of making pain my teacher–it does resonate on many levels–Kathnell

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