Thankful for pain – really!

Day 61 of #LiveWell2017


There’s nothing like a challenge – unexpected or planned – to provide the perfect opportunity to practice centering, patience, mindfulness, and kindness. Whether it’s climbing a mountain trail (like the one in the photo at Mt. St. Helens) or overcoming pain from an injury or illness, every challenge is an opportunity, an opening, a possibility.

Just this week, I woke up in the middle of the night with my neck muscles contracting in an excruciatingly painful spasm. It was as sudden as someone flipping a light switch. The pain was so strong, I yelled loud enough to wake my husband. For the next 15 hours, I couldn’t straighten my head or turn it to the right at all without the cramping and acute pain returning.  For a long time, the only thing I could do was lay still on the floor.

I have no idea what caused my neck to cramp and kink up, but I spent a good deal of the day focused in the present moment with my pain. Like most people, I don’t enjoy suffering, but I did see this as a beautiful opportunity to practice yoga, meditation, breathing, and acceptance. Not long ago, I read the book Still Here by Ram Dass and was struck by his stories of acceptance after he suffered a stroke, endured pain, and lost use of much of his physical body.

So I took my pain and viewed it through a new lens – as an opportunity to embrace what comes. It was an opportunity to take each moment – one at a time – and be in the present. It was an opportunity to practice metta – to feel loving-kindness and healing thoughts for myself and for all others who are suffering at this moment.

It was an opportunity to ask for help, to accept assistance, to practice centering and relaxation. It was an opportunity for me to be thankful for the kindness shown by friends and family. And now, it has given me an opportunity to tell a new story, one that I would not have been able to share two days ago. So, I am thankful for the pain, thankful for the opportunity it gave me to grow and learn and connect with others. Really!

What opportunity are you thankful for today?


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