Riding the Waves of Pain

…to give up all limited thinking, to take each moment into your heart, and to abandon all urges to call anything good or bad, “black” or “white”, right or wrong, enough or not enough. Instead, stand in the “sacred grey” and drop all offense/defense posturing and receive wholeheartedly, this one, holy life – as it is.

~Britt B Steele, Pilgrim: Living Your Yoga every Single Day



Why is it so hard for us to sit with pain? Why has pain gotten the bad rap in the array of feelings? Why is it difficult for us to embrace pain just as easily as we do joy or happiness?

Everyone knows that pain is a part of every human’s life. It comes and goes like fall, winter, spring and summer. It is inevitable. It is unpredictable. It doesn’t ask for our permission before unpacking its bags in our heart. Often times, we are the ones who roll out the red carpet for pain by the decisions we make. Then when pain comes, we indubitably blame ourselves for making the wrong decision. But what if it wasn’t a wrong decision? What if it was exactly the decision we were meant to make and there is a greater opportunity for growth than we anticipated –  and that growth is hidden in the pain?

Lately, I have come to a greater understanding of pain. I have resolved to welcome it.

How do I welcome it? I sit down with it. I say, “Come. Come. Come”. I allow it to move through me. I choose not to run from it. I choose not to busy myself with other things when it arises in my body or heart. I sit by myself and ride the wave. I take time to write about it in my journal. I choose to feel it. Every bit of it. I choose not to numb myself. I choose to view pain as my friend, just as much as joy. I choose to hold the hand of pain and not be afraid of it. I choose to acknowledge it as a part of me. I choose to attend to pain that comes.

In doing so, I have come to several deeper truths about this feeling we so often try to avoid. I have come to realize that it will not crush me. It is not there to destroy me. My world will not end because I befriend this feeling. It is there to teach me. It has come to make me whole. It comes to remind me that I’m alive. If I can hold it sacredly, then it can only strengthen who I am.  It is a part of me, but it doesn’t make up the sum of me or all that is going on in my life. Yes, it hurts and it is usually uncomfortable. Yes, it makes me want to squirm away and distract myself. Yes, it seems unbearable at times. But it only lasts a little while. It is only moments in my life.

I have found that if I shut the door to this feeling, then I continue to move away from my authentic self. If I am seeking to be authentic, then I will wholeheartedly embrace every part of being human. I cannot proclaim authenticity without embracing all that comes my way. Authenticity warrants a mindful state of being. Mindfulness warrants a constant focus on the present, experiencing thoughts, feelings and sensations without judging them.

It seems there are many going through a period splattered with pain this winter season. Not only have I been experiencing it, but I hear it in the voices of those I love and somehow I feel it in the air. Sure there are joyful moments mixed in, but it feels like one of those seasons where you just want to yell, “What the fuck”!

Some of us are hurting because our son or father died this year. Some of us are hurting because we want a deeper relationship with our child and it seems to get further apart. Some of us are hurting because we met someone who unearthed our soul and they happen to be married. Some of us are having to end a romantic relationship because we know that we need to have a season alone. Some of us are hurting because our efforts to find our dream piece of property are continually met with closed doors. Some of us are hurting because someone we love just found out they have cancer. Some of us are hurting because we can’t seem to move through the events of our childhood. Some of us are hurting because we cannot financially catch a break. Some of us are hurting because we feel trapped in the life we have unconsciously created. Some of us are hurting because we don’t feel heard or validated in our primary relationships. Some of us are hurting because we have fallen out of love with our partner. Some of us are hurting because we can’t seem to change.

Whatever your pain may be, I implore you to ride the waves of pain you may be experiencing. Find your pathway in knowing how to embrace pain. Or maybe you aren’t in that season right now, but someone you love is. Be available for them. Sit with them. Don’t try to solve their pain. Listen. Comfort. Take them out to a movie. Buy them some music. Go on a walk with them. Often times, it’s easier for us to care for others in pain and we neglect to care the same for ourselves.

I used to run to people first to help me with my pain. I no longer use that as my first lifeline. I turn inward. I sit with my humanness and embrace it. I feel it out and rejoice that I am an individual and alive. I feel that each of us owes it to ourselves to go deeper in ourselves. There are treasures hidden in each of us that are awaiting to be unlocked. Once I feel I have given worthy space to feeling the pain, I call a friend and get vulnerable. I open up and share my humanness with someone I trust. This is just as important, in the process, as holding space for myself.

Here’s to taking pain in and riding it out!


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photo credit – Jordan McQueen