Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Pain Portal

There's this phenomenon I see each day, working with people through all the ebbs and flows of life.  The phenomenon is so brilliant, that my Human Brain absolutely forgets it, and then has to be shown it again and again, constantly.

What I see in others, and from what I have experienced in my own life, is that pain is a portal into a (magical) world of Healing.   Don't believe in a (magical) word of Healing?  Ya, me either. Even though I see it everyday.  We in the West prefer to see our pain as the problem to be solved.  We have a harder time understanding that the pain we're experiencing in our lives is but a symptom, a rumbling up from deep within us, and an invitation to Heal.  What we need is a new perspective about our pain.  But how?

Let's first agree that our brains are Lamborghinis.  We have at our disposal one of the most amazingly engineered and powerful machines on earth.  And we have no idea how to use it.  There's an enduring myth out there that we only use 10% of our brains.  This does not seem to be backed up by evidence.  However, what may be closer to the "truth," is that we only understand a small percentage of what our brains are actually capable of.

What is the Human Brain actually capable of?  Well, the Sistine Chapel comes to mind, as does the Guggenheim Museum in Spain, the Brooklyn Bridge, Mozza on Melrose, WWOZ New Orleans Public Radio, the entire City of Portland, Oregon, those Lavender Shortbread cookies at Trails Cafe in Griffith Park, and about a billion other shimmers of magnificence.   But how does this evidence of our Lamborghini Brain help us Heal?  Well, the same mental power that fueled the Race for the Double Helix and led to a great discovery about our DNA, is the same source of ingenuity that forms thoughts, images, and ideas everyday in all of us.  Turns out, our thoughts, about Healing, and about everything else, are very powerful.  And "with great power, comes great responsibility."  We just gotta learn to drive our Lamborghinis right.

Now think about the last time you experienced pain.  It can be physical pain or emotional pain.  Whatever the cause of the injury, regardless of it's origins or expressions, wasn't the result some amount of Healing?  Whether it was a paper-cut or a broken heart, though the immediate sense was that of pain, ultimately, we tend to Heal.   Without our pain, we don't Heal.  That simple.

Our Brains sometimes confuse and complicate this.  The Brain is a chatty little thing, probably the chattiest 3 pound entity in existence.  It's in constant conversation with the Body, as well as other parts of the Brain, and other Brains it senses as well.  We just gotta clear the way so our 3 pound chatty Lamborghinis can really stretch out, and the rest seems to solve itself.

I see people everyday whose lives are transforming.  Their pain, their reason for coming into therapy, opens the door into all kinds of healing potential that would not have been possible by employing a narrow view of pain management or simple symptom reduction (though I'm obviously a fan of pain reduction whenever appropriate).  Many of us have developed a huge tolerance for our emotional pain, and not even know it.  If you don't want to Heal, that's ok.  It may either subside in time, or it may worsen. But if you're interested in Healing, know it's all there for you, through your most painful parts.  Our pain is not a sign of weakness, nor a fly to be swatted away, despite the cultural current to the contrary.  It is a portal into a (magical) world of Healing.

I'll see ya there!

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