It’s natural to despair, be sad, feel powerless, and get angry in the face of intractable bodily pain and discomfort. These are part of the human spectrum of emotions. Fortunately it’s a spectrum, so there are also ones that bring balance and healing.

When there’s pain we tend to reject it, naturally. We contract both physically and mentally. Physically this is a way to not feel the pain or make it worse. Mentally it’s a kind of cringing or rejection; pushing the pain away.

In contraction there are fewer possibilities. In openness we have access to all possibilities. It saddens us to be in such discomfort and we cry, we fret. This is a healthy expression and outlet for our feelings. Over time however, it can turn into a wholesale rejection of specific parts of the body, which are still very much a part of our life. Often it feels like the entire body hurts.

loveIn the anger that sometimes visits, there may be feelings of being betrayed, that our body has betrayed us. The good news is that self-directed anger and contraction is solvable.

Love is the greatest healer. In making friends with our pained body parts and discomfort, we’re giving both our love. In loving our body, we love ourselves. Our body needs and wants us to love it. It wants a love-based relationship with us, not one that’s in conflict.

One way this can begin is to appreciate its design, functionality and wonder. Appreciate how it’s a perfect vehicle for our life. Appreciate ALL that’s in great working order in our body.

There’s a neutral state of observation that can be described as simply witnessing “what is.” There are no labels, expectations or judgments in this type of sensing and observing.

Here’s a method to embrace your body, its pain and discomfort.

Befriending the Breath

  • Lie down.
  • Let your body sink into the surface underneath you.
  • Feel your body settling into itself deeper and deeper.
  • Feel it becoming more and more comfortable.
  • Notice your mind follow in the body’s example.
  • Notice how your mind finds its own depth.
  • Make a conscious choice to withdraw your awareness from all external concerns.
  • Bring your awareness inside.
  • Let your awareness settle into that place you know as good.
  • Now, notice how your body breathes for you.
  • It works for your benefit 24/7/365.
  • Without changing the breath in any way, simply follow it with your awareness.
  • Feel the breath move in and out.
  • Notice the sensations of the breath.
  • Notice which body parts move as you inhale and exhale.
  • Simply observe your body’s natural breathing, without changing it in any way.
  • Feel the flow of the breath.
  • Feel the temperature of the breath.
  • Get to know your breath in every way.
  • Befriend it.
  • Stay as long as you want.

This alone will help to be kinder to our body and embrace its pain.

For greater benefit, go through the above and add the following after some minutes:

Breathing in, I am aware of my body.
Breathing out, I smile to my whole body

After some sessions or whenever you feel ready, add or use by itself:

Breathing in, I am aware of my body.
Breathing out, I smile to my ____ where it hurts.

And whenever you’re ready again add or use by itself:

Breathing in, I am aware of my body.
Breathing out, I smile to the pain.

Whether our whole body is hurting or only parts of it, as long we make pain the enemy there’s no way to get its cooperation. It’s natural that we may resent the pain or become discouraged because of it. There’s fear involved too: “Nothing has worked!”

Pain persists because it has an important insight and communication for us. What pain wants is for us to be there with it so it can tell us its story. Until that happens, it’s going to keep getting our attention in less than desirable ways.

Life Loves You! Life loves you enough to live as you, to breathe through you, to express itself as you. Life loves you so much! Honor, cherish, and enjoy life’s love for you. Sit silently and ask life to fill you with its love.

— Iyanla Vanzant

Words accompanying inhalation and exhalation are inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh

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Embracing Bodily Pain