Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Paradox and Pain

We always laugh at Wesley in The Princess Bride, "Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something." Buddhist rhetoric buried in a fairy tale.

No one wants to have pain. It's uncomfortable, distracting and makes most of us feel miserable. Chronic pain can lead to depression and stops many people from working.

No wonder we fight it. Or numb it. Or try to forget it. We're desperate to escape it.

What if it's all the fighting and avoidance that makes pain unbearable?

The third wave of behavioural therapies advocate accepting, rather than fighting, pain. A paradox is emerging. That softening our approach to pain, entering into pain is a step towards lessening it.

Does chronic or repeated pain make you feel tense or upset? Do you fight it?
Try an experiment next time. Instead of becoming distressed, notice it and accept it. Turn it over in your mind and describe it to yourself. Rest in it. Do a careful scan of your body, noting where there is pain and where there is no pain. Don't judge it, just focus your awareness on it.

Let me know what happens.


Brandee Shafer said...

I've heard of women doing this sort of thing during childbirth and having not only pain free labor but pleasurable labor. Seems to me: God's word indicates that labor will hurt like the dickens. Which is why I say, every time, epidural please.

Kath said...

I see your point there Brandee. Labour does hurt. A lot. My best (odd term) was the last one, when I was able to relax a little more, but it was still painful. I think fighting the pain increases it though. (Epidural is avoiding rather than fighting :) Possibly a very adaptive move.