How to face pain

The first thing to understand is that many of us carry a lot of chaos in our minds. The chaos is partially the result of an externalized locus of focus, a fast paced environment, and inner conflicts that create mental noise. The kind of inner conflict that results from the incongruence between how we feel and how we believe we should behave can cause us to judge our pain and actually creates some of it. When we don’t know how to address our pain, we do our best to avoid it, sometimes even turning up the volume on our mental noise.

Basically – the first thing to do is to sit in compassion towards ourselves. Sitting without judgement – ie without mental conclusions about what the pain means, and without resistance – ie, without pushing against it to stop. This is a space that will assist you in transmuting the pain. It is important to dissolve judgements because some of us judge ourselves as being “less than” for experiencing pain in the first place.

By allowing yourself to experience love, regardless of the pain, in and of itself is incredibly healing. That may be the only thing you have to do. Sit or lie down, get comfortable, close your eyes, slow your breathing down in and out through your nose. Use the exercise for developing unconditional love found in the Refreshment Stand to create this loving space within you. The moment you allow yourself to be still in a seat of love, without the usual distractions – things should come up in a way that is appropriate for you to handle and process, and will be transmuted through the field that you create in the above exercise.

From a physiological perspective, using abdominal breathing stimulates the vagus nerve and activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This process triggers cellular repair, slows the heart rate, and brings down anxiety. Practicing abdominal breathing regularly can work to replace neural patterns of stress and pain towards those of relaxation and restoration.

Your emotions have a physiological reality, which impact the health state of your body. From the healing space that you create with your breathe and focus, you can begin to heal everything that is connected. There is a concept in Rolfing which teaches that by touching a single point on the surface of the body the deep tissues that are connected to this small point are also “touched’/reached because of the interconnected nature of the body.

Picking fights is a sign that you are avoiding pain. There is a tendency to become withdrawn and/or violent when we feel pain, in the way that an injured wild animal will become aggressive.

Building community and connecting with others is a way to support ourselves during painful times. There is a physiological reality to believing that you are supported, and also in receiving touch or simply believing that others regard us with kindess or even are praying for us. Kind physical contact, and feeling loved, protected, cared for by others is correlated with the presence of the stress protective hormone oxytocin.

Building community creates an outlet for releasing pain. Develop a support network of people who don’t argue with your pain, who don’t tell you that you should not be feeling what you are feeling, or who tell you to slap on a smile. This requires getting comfortable with being open and letting go of judgments about our pain – the above noted exercise will help with that too.

Sometimes the pain can feel like too much. When you believe that you are not alone with it (believe me, if you are suffering from something chances are pretty good that you are not the only one), you feel stronger and with reinforcement relative to the pain.

Write about your pain. Express it in a way that feels right to you and get it out through discussion, journalling or any expressive way that you relate to most. You could even hum it out for example. You may be surprised with what you learn. Your wisdom goes deeper than you know. By denying yourself facing what you don’t want to face, you also deny yourself your wisdom and courage to which you have access by going trough it. So let it out.

Once we’ve started looking at the fuller picture of our pain, we can begin the step of making meaning out of it. Making meaning out of your suffering can help you to resolve and heal it. When we learn that the journey IS the destination, we no longer feel like our pain is meaningless. Form this stance, every experience shines meaning more deeply. By making meaning out of the pain, we make it into a medicine to heal ourselves and share with others.


2 thoughts on “How to face pain

    • You are welcome! It means the point at which, or the location from which you have situated your focus. An internalized locus refers to a focus on our inner world going outwards (different from introversion) while an externalized one focuses on what is happening on the outside. Generally and internalized locus results in a feeling of groundedness while an externalized one can make us feel powerless and out of control as we follow external cues and forget ourselves as participants of our own experiences. Hope that helps! You can email at if you have more questions.

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