Move out of Pain and into Love
Yesterday I was playing with my 4-year-old daughter, Sabina, and she cheerfully stated “I love Sabina!” To which I replied, “Me too! What do you love about Sabina?” She said, “I love that she is funny and her cute little butt.” This made me laugh and melt. What genius children possess.
Loving ourselves and our bodies is our natural state, but somehow, somewhere along the line, we often lose sight of this. There are numerous reasons we could fall out of love with our bodies: appearance, judgment, comparing ourselves to others, trauma, pain, digestive issues, and many other ideas or conditions that afflict our humanness. Today, I am going to be talking about pain and how to manage it, so we can increase the love of our bodies and all that they do for us!
When treating pain in others and managing it in myself, I draw upon a wide range of approaches — bio-medicine, nutrition, psychology, yoga, and others. But my starting point is always the Chinese Medical principle: All pain is caused by stagnation. By the same philosophy, flow — unrestricted movement of blood, other fluids, and our vital energy (Qi; pronounced “chee”) — is essential to life and health. If we overeat and food is stagnant in our digestive tract, it hurts. If blood stops moving through the vessels in our heart, this hurts. If our muscles are irritated and taut, this is a form of stagnation, and it hurts, too. This principle is true on so many levels. Stagnant thinking, stagnant circulation, stagnant emotions … all of these are uncomfortable.
Here are 7 ways to move out of pain
Breathing: Breath helps mobilize our vital energy (Qi). It is said that Qi follows the breath. Therefore, breathing fully, slowly, and deeply can alleviate pain.
Exercise: Exercise not only mobilizes Qi and blood; it increases the Qi and blood-carrying capacity of the body. That is, it makes us more robust and resilient. If you have chronic pain, it is advisable to find movement that does not exasperate the injury, but produces enough movement to get blood flowing through the area. Even a short walk can do wonders to decrease pain.
Hydration: Water is the primary agent by which flow occurs in the body. After all, it’s most of what we are made of. When we are dehydrated, flow is hindered, and all systems may function below optimum. With pain, dehydration may contribute to poorly lubricated joints, dry, taut muscles and ligaments, and generally malnourished tissues due to insufficient perfusion of vital fluids. If you don’t drink enough water and you’re in pain, this is one of the first things you must address. It’s so easy, and it can make a big difference.
Electrolytes: Electrolytes are a related factor in the flow of water and electricity in muscle and nerve tissue. These minerals, particularly sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, are essential for the movement of electrical impulses. Without them, muscles become weak and/or cramped. You can usually get a sufficient intake of electrolytes by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, but if you’re sweating profusely or have diarrhea, or both, taking supplemental electrolytes is important. Additional magnesium can be especially beneficial for muscle pain and tightness. It is a safe and natural muscle relaxant.
Visualization: There are many ways to use visualization for pain management. Because there is always an element of stagnation with pain, a basic format is to visualize movement through the painful area. Imagine blood and/or energy coursing through this region, moving down and out the limbs. You can imagine pain, toxins, inflammation, cellular debris, fluid, or stagnation flowing out of the painful area. And you can imagine fresh, revitalizing blood and/or energy simultaneously flowing into the painful area.
Massage: If pain is stagnation, then massage, at its most basic level, is the practice of mechanically breaking up the stagnation and restoring proper flow. The great majority of pain can be benefited by massage, which is a more impressive claim than can be made of nearly any conventional pain therapy.
Although I believe there is no substitute for having someone else give you a massage, self-massage can often be enormously beneficial. I have saved myself from severe pain countless times by rolling on a small, firm ball.
Acupuncture: Acupuncture needles can do a lot of things, based on where they’re inserted and how they’re manipulated. But, like massage, at its most fundamental, acupuncture initiates change – it moves energy and blood to promote balance and alleviate stagnation.
When we take the steps to decrease our pain, an opening is created to experience our bodies as the amazing and loveable vessels they are. Let’s commit to loving our bodies more than ever in 2012. Get moving!
Briana Borten is a peace engineer and entrepreneur who works with people to decrease their pain, increase relaxation, optimize healthy, and become present in their lives. She’s on a mission to create a more peaceful world through more peaceful individuals.
Photo credit: Reavel