No Pain, No Gain

Yoga hurt today. I showed up to one of my favorite classes joyful and in pain, back pain, chronic back pain.

I grabbed a few of my favorite props, rolled out my mat, and searched for a comfortable position…never to be found…yet showing up was my intention. No pain, no gain…, right?

Moving gingerly with the flow, aching with each pose, “Breath into the pain” became my mantra.

We’re socialized to do anything and everything imaginable to avoid or escape pain.

Yoga, if we pay attention, gives us space to integrate our mind, body, and spirit, including our pain.

I remained focused and intent on breathing my way through the pain…and the class, “Keep pushing, even though it hurts. You can do this.”

At some point in the class, our kind and compassionate instructor posed a spiritual question for us to consider.

Yoga has that way about it. It invites deeper stretching beyond muscles. The question went something like, “Is it coming from a loving place?”

Instantly, my relationship with my body interrupted my pain mantra.

I asked the question repeatedly as I flowed through the rest of the class. With each pose, “Is it coming from a loving place?” became my new mantra.

No Pain, No Gain

I’ve treated my body badly; I’ve starved it, binged it, purged it, and deprived it.

Growing up in the “No Pain, No Gain” era, pushing, pulling, heaving, distorting, and contorting my body until it hurt, to gain the perfect physique, was common, even expected.

One more rep. One more set. One more bite. One more retch.

I’ve let others treat my body badly; I’ve not protected it, sheltered it, defended it, or secured it; I’ve allowed others to use it, violate it, objectify it, and take advantage of it, to gain love, acceptance, and belonging.

The pain that I’ve wreaked on my body and allowed others to impose did not come from a loving place.

It came from a place of fear, desperation, and scarcity.

I hurt me to gain distance from the pain of unworthiness, judgment, and shame. I hurt me to gain approval, acceptance, belonging, and love.

Back to my mat…

As I repeated my new mantra, “Is it coming from a loving place?” I stopped resisting and started listening to my pain, really hearing what it was telling me.

I paid attention to how the pain responded. Instead of fighting the pain, thinking I could stretch the life out of it, I softened, backed off, settled into it, and joined it.

I discovered that when I got still and quiet with pain, the fight between us ceased.

I discovered that when I stopped running from pain and started honoring it, I stopped imposing pain on my mind, body, and spirit.

I simply didn’t want to hurt me anymore. I was no longer hungry. I was no longer starving. When I opened my heart to pain, I gained wholeness. I gained me, all of me.

Pain is Part of Life

Pain is part of wandering around on this planet. Pain is one of the emotional threads in the fabric of our being. Pain completes our emotional architecture…Pain has much to teach us…if we allow it.

“Come in. Sit down with me. And don’t leave until you’ve taught me what I need to know.”

~Glennon Doyle Melton

When we deny pain, run from it, and try to escape it, we hurt ourselves, we hurt others.

When we avoid pain, we hide, depriving ourselves of wholeness.

Our deprivation shows up as anxiety, phobias, depression, debt, addiction, compulsion, impulsiveness, obsession, and violence.

Coming from a loving place when we feel pain transforms us.

When we open our hearts to pain, we gain emotional wholeness.

When we allow ourselves to sit with our pain and truly feel it and honor it, we’re no longer emotionally fragmented and separate.

We no longer need to blame, fight, defend, violate, resist, binge, purge, deprive, starve, numb, hoard, or live lives of scarcity.

We can live freer, softer, more at ease, more simply; We gain ourselves, all of ourselves.

No pain, no gain.

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