Wednesday, September 7, 2011

"Pain is not normal"

Oh my aching neck! she says yet again. This weekend I found myself in the clutches of my new nemesis: Neck pain -- well, shoulder, upper back, and neck pain. I'd spent quite a few hours in the car, done some intensive backbending with minimal warming-up and planted myself in front of the computer (at the non-ergonomically designed desk) for a little too long, and my neck was letting me know it. Stiffness that went up both sides and culminated in inability to concentrate or think or even see clearly with the ongoing menace of a migraine ready to happen. It did not feel good.
Being in this predicament led me to remember two things. First, from the therapeutics training I took with Todd Norian a few years ago: "Pain is not normal" It simply is not normal to be in pain all the time, and this pain is the reminder that we are somehow out of line with what is most optimal. Which is actually a pretty optimistic thought -- because if pain is caused by being out of alignment, the way to get out of pain is to get into alignment.
And this brings me to my second recollection : this post from Certified Anusara teacher Zhenja la Rosa out of NYC. She's complaining of pretty much the same problem - pain in the neck when she realizes not only does she have to align, but every time she gets out of alignment she has pain, so she has to align ALL THE TIME. All the time.
All the time sounds kind of daunting. But after checking in with my MD and getting his assessment ("you need a really good massage") I realized that was exactly what I needed to do. Get on the mat, get into alignment, and stay the heck there at all times. Certainly easier said than done, but I can tell you that after 3 days of deep therapeutic and detailed work I'm feeling much better.
And that's the crux. Pain is not normal. Physical pain, emotional pain, even spiritual pain, NONE of them are normal. And the only way out is to notice when and where you are misaligned. If it is physical, what part of your body is tweaking and needs to come to Optimal Alignment. If it is emotional pain you're coping with, what part of your heart are you refusing to honor? If it is spiritual pain, how connected to your Essence Nature are you, and how much can you back off and let it lead the way? After you notice the misalignment the fix is simple: Align. Align early, Align often, Align always (as in, not just on the mat).
That way when the possibility of big pain comes... the heartache, the loss, the separation from Source that seems irreparable, some tiny piece may just stay glued in there to that space that is so deeply aligned you cannot be shaken. And while the loss may be real and the grief may be real, maybe some agony can be avoided.
As John Friend says it: Align with the Divine. All will be well.
(and yes, I will still take that massage!)

Contemplation: Where am I experiencing pain in my body, heart, or spirit, and what path could lead me into deeper alignment?

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