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sometimes inspiring, sometimes personal meanderings of the Heart's opening in the every-day-ness of life...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Pain and "The Way of Things..."

The last few days I’ve become acquainted with pain and “the way of things” – as spiritual teacher Ram Dass calls it - which sounds much nicer than the dismissive phrase - “it is what it is” - that I have often heard in terms of the way life goes.

Today I was supposed to take my mother for her eye surgery.  But as it turned out my sister and husband had to take on that responsibility when my back went into spasm last Friday night, after another 3 hour doctor’s appointment with my mother and an hour’s drive on either end.  It was a pain worse than any I remember.  It went up the right side of the spine and around the right side of the rib cage.  Despite self-massage, back rubs, heat packs, ice packs, stretching, energy work, trying to find a comfortable position, praying my muscles would release their grip, the pain remained intense.  I finally gave in to pain medication at 5:10 am Saturday morning - after no sleep, and playing musical chairs all night.  The medication knocked me out for a couple of hours, leaving me feeling drugged – but the pain returned.  It wasn’t done with me yet…     

In the ensuing days I speculated that this must be my unconscious emotional resistance (and not so unconscious) J contracting against life as it is.  On the other hand, I thought, it may have simply been a matter of body mechanics, sitting in the car, and those uncomfortable waiting room chairs.  And on the other hand, if everything is exactly as it should be, then maybe this was a larger Universal Intelligence (which I would like to believe there is J) telling me I didn’t need to be in control, on top of things, always available, feeling responsible; that it was time to let go, to release this old role that tends to keep me in knots and a little “wired” as my mother and sister have recently alluded to, suggesting that my “presence” was not necessarily “helpful.” J That was an interesting reflection in the mirror. J

Or – just maybe – for the moment - it was just “the way of things”: Life playing Itself out as it does with no hidden meaning, agenda, or conclusion…  And yet I do feel like I was given an opportunity here to see things differently  – about myself and my assumed roles; as well as seeing the need to take care of myself both emotionally and physically and not try to be super woman for my family.  I also became aware that no matter how one *tries* to be “present” or helpful, if it cannot be done from a deep place of Presence, and only comes from the place of personality/ego, then it’s best to just back out of the way…  In this case, I was literally “taken out” – for whatever reason.

Pain has an interesting way of bringing us to our knees, dissolving defense mechanisms, and our self image: those lofty *ideas* we have of ourselves, like being “spiritual” or “helpful” or “present”, demanding that we surrender to the moment as it is – to look at things as they really are, including ourselves and how others see us – and being willing to see the truth of it.  Although will have to say I wasn’t that philosophical about it at the time.  I had no higher thoughts of “spirituality.”  I was just a person in pain, in the immediate experience of pain, tyring to do my best to ride the wave: sometimes resisting the pain, and sometimes remembering to breathe into the experience, allowing it to be what it was in the moment.   Resisting, allowing, resisting, allowing, again and again and again, all the while taking my pain medication with gratitude J, until the muscles finally let go of their grip - yesterday.  *I* was not the one “letting go.”  No matter how I *tried* to control the letting go by trying to relieve the pain, it had its own way, and its own time evidently.

And so it goes…  Pain, family dynamics, and life in the moment…  The way of things…

by Danna Faulds

“There is no controlling life.
Try corralling a lightning bolt,
containing a tornado.
Dam a stream,
and it will create a new channel.
Resist, and the tide will sweep you
off your feet.
Allow, and grace will carry you
to higher ground.
The only safetly lies in letting it all in –
the wild with the weak;
fear, fantasies, failures and successes.
When loss rips off the doors
of the heart,
or sadness veils your vision
with despair,
practice becomes simply bearing the truth.
In the choice to let go of your
known way of being,
the whole world is revealed
to your new eyes.”



Rain on screen through window
looking out at the back yard


  1. Christine I understand completely, I have had severe pain over a period of 5 weeks, refusing medication did not even come into it! I'm not one to pop pills but the pain went on through the night with little relief from the strongest pain killer the doctor could prescribe!! I went for endoscopy for the second time in 6 months! All was okay. The pain has now subside if not gone completely.... everything you say here I agree with especially not having 'higher spiritual thoughts at the time' and 'riding the waves'. I am still learning lessons from all of this...
    Thank you for this post and putting it all in context...
    Lovely reflection and I will copy the poem, such lovely words ;~)xxx

    1. Thank you Sue! Am glad you are feeling better! Sometimes those "mysterious pains" are the ones that have the tightest grip. Am glad it finally "let go." :)

  2. you know, although I am not glad you had the back pain, it sounds awful, I am glad that you were forced to let go and allow your sister and husband to do stage two of your mom's eye adventure.

    "I" adventure.

    Yes, I do think it is important to spread the responsibility out. It is overwhelming to care for elders plus a sister in your case.

    Probably it was good for her too to be needed.

    I too will copy the poem. Hope your back is better. Again, I am amazed at how articulate you are and how you can see so many sides of things. hugs, suki

    1. Yes, me too - glad it put me in this position. :) It was interesting to watch how this all unfolded. My sister is actually a *very* responsible person and quite capable of taking care of my mother. I think I needed to see that too :) And just to clarify, I am not "taking care of my sister." I did help assist her after her back surgery in 2010. We just have a very dysfunctional family system that sometimes leaves me feeling like I'm the "responsible" one :) But through this experience I am beginning to see that differently, and gaining a new perspective on "the way of things" :)
      Love the "I" adventure phrase - so true!
      My back is *much* better, thanks...

  3. So sorry you've been in such pain, Christine... I do like Ram Dass "the way of things," which does sound a sweeter take on what is happening presently. Pain, physical pain especially can be a real moment of truth to deal with, as it can bring up so much--even long buried stuff... Surrendering to pain, letting go can let go a lot of what ails us, especially inside. When things are bad, I feel it in my back. When things go wrong, I feel it in my back. When I'm resisting or denying, it will present eventually in my back. It is VERY interesting. It's a good place to start practice. :o) I'm wishing very much that you will find peace with the pain, and much else, soon... ((HUGS))

    1. Thanks Tracy... Yes, definitely a moment of truth that could not be ignored; stuff that cannot be stuffed any longer :) As well as paying attention to body mechanics :)

  4. Like Suki, I couldn't help but think that despite the pain, which sounds horrible, it sounds like the universe took this particular task away from you for a reason. You must have been very determined to do it given how hard you needed to be taken out. I'm glad you're back is recovering now!

    1. I think it is that deep sense of feeling "responsible" - no matter what; the self-image of being the "responsible one" that must take care of everything... :):):):) It certainly brought me to my knees literally! There was no way to ignore it anymore. Big message coming through :)


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