We become sick because we act In sickening ways.
~ Louis Jourard
Modern medicine is based upon the notion of battle. We battle germs and fight for life. As soon as we feel pain or discomfort, we immediately try to change it. We feel we must conquer.
This way of being leads to a never-ending struggle. After one illness or problem is conquered, another arises. Usually we expect the doctor to take control and make us well. We relinquish our part in the illness, denying the fact that it is up to us to stop, listen, and discover the lessons the illness has to teach us. Healing from within brings inner peace with it. It arises from a different orientation towards all the experiences of life. We are taught to stop, pay attention, to respect what is happening – to see our pain as a messenger. It is as if we were re-focusing a camera, receiving our experience through a different lens.
See Your Pain As A Messenger Bringing Important News
Dialoguing With Your Pain
Usually there is a deep sense that when pain arises it is because something is wrong. This is a misunderstanding. Pain arises from lack of balance. It contains much needed information, brings many messages along with it. When we see our pain as a messenger and learn how to really listen to it, healing begins in all kinds of ways. Some would suggest there is no difference between our physical pain, our illness and the emotional, mental or spiritual suffering we are going through.
Illness often comes when we feel defeated and may not want to struggle or live anymore. Some become ill when they are overly exhausted, which is a way of telling themselves it is time to make changes in their lives. Looking at one aspect of our suffering, we are also inevitably, looking at the next. All aspects are interconnected. In some cases, for full healing to take place, a person may have to make deep changes in his life. It is important to stop and wonder specifically what the pain is saying to you, to dialogue with the pain, ask fundamental questions of it: "What do you want from me? Why are you here now?"
No matter what we are feeling there is only one pain and it manifests itself in various ways. If we do not address it in one mode, often it will come in another. It can come physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. In whatever form this pain arises, it is extremely empowering to turn directly to our suffering and interact with it. This requires turning around. Instead of tensing up, we learn how to pause and understand there is a lesson here we have to learn. As we do this, we often discover that the pain comes holding a gift in its hands.
Pain Often Comes Holding A Gift In Its Hands
Each Illness Has Its Own Story. The illness is the only way they can give themselves permission to stop, rest, and make much needed changes in their lives. Each illness has it's own story. The same is true with psychological or emotional symptoms that grow strong, demanding our attention.
When someone is in physical pain and suddenly understands what is troubling them emotionally, the physical pain often startlingly subsides. For full healing to take place it may be essential to make changes in one's total life. Cancer can be suppressed for many years, and then it returns. When it reappears we must ask, "Why now? What is going on in my total life?"
Sitting In The Middle Of Trouble
During the practice of Zen, students engaged in zazen (Zen meditation), sometimes sit for many hours on the cushion without moving. Sometimes incredible pain arises. As they continue to do this practice, they gradually become stronger than the pain. They learn to see that most of the pain simply comes from resistance to what's going on. It comes from refusing this very moment.
When we stop fighting, we experience joy. Once we start fighting again, we are cramped into agony.
The Best Way Out Is The Way In
The best way out is to make friends with the pain. Fighting intensifies it. If we can relax into it for a little while and explore, many new possibilities arise.
Natural healing is always available in all situations, but it can be cut off by fighting and by fear. When we let go and enter the flow of what’s going on at the moment, we became available to our greater source of energy, guidance and help.
Brenda Shoshanna, Ph.D, is a psychologist, speaker and well known author who is a long term Zen practitioner. This article is from her new book Living By Zen, (Timeless Truths For Everyday Life) http://www.livingbyzen.com The relationship expert on i.village, she is also the author of of Zen Miracles (Finding Peace In An Insane World,) Zen And The Art Of Falling In Love, (Simon and Schuster) and many other books. Her personal website is http://www.brendashoshanna.com