Massage & Bodywork

JULY | AUGUST 2019

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26 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k j u l y / a u g u s t 2 0 1 9 SAVVY SELF-CARE best practices Transforming Pain Into Opportunity By Heath and Nicole Reed One of our guiding principles of self-care is inspired by the Taoist proverb to "prevent trouble before it arises." We live this ideal by purposely organizing our days around feel-good practices that reinforce stability in areas of weakness and flexibility in areas of tension. We have learned to mine our personal pain projects to reveal hidden gems that channel transformative healing. We'd like to share some of these precious gems with you by exploring our own relationship with pain, identifying common pitfalls of being mired in our "pain body," and then sharing a practice that transforms painful experiences into a fuel source to ignite reliable and masterful self-care practices. WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT RELATIONSHIP WITH PAIN? Pain is subjective. One person's stubbed toe may feel as intense as another person's crippling migraine. We all experience and express pain differently. Pain is a cacophony of physical, mental, and emotional impulses and often holds echoes from the past. How we relate to pain depends on what's causing it, how we feel about it, and all the other stories we add to it. PAIN STORIES Have you heard people lead conversations with a pain story? Do you know someone who is sure to notify everyone around them about their previous injuries and limitations from pain? We wonder if people use their pain stories as a way to connect, relate, or even receive attention. But what if recycling the same pain stories only reinforces and amplifies the pain? It's not unusual for someone to build an identity and sense of self around pain stories. Even before we open our eyes in the morning, still lying in bed, we might go searching for it: "Is it still there? Damn! There it is!" Instead of getting locked into a hamster wheel of pain, we wonder, how can the pain of the past, and the inevitable pain of the future, spark our continued growth, expansion, and evolution? "Pain is inevitable—suffering is optional."—Buddhist proverb It's been said that there are two darts of pain: a physical dart of pain and a mental dart of pain. Physically, we experience pain as a signal being transmitted through our nervous system that something has gone awry. Our body screams, "Ouch! Stop! Get away!" Mentally, we experience pain through the interpretations, exaggerations, good-bad judgments, and other stories we make up about the physical signal. Optional suffering is the result of mental darts of pain outliving the actual physical tissue damage. They are often perpetuated beyond the physical darts by reinforcing stories we tell ourselves, like: "Why me?" "This isn't fair." "I'm never going to feel better." The first dart is inevitable—unfortunate stuff is going to happen, people are going to die, our body will hurt sometimes. The second dart is optional, even avoidable. We can stop amplifying pain and hurling darts at ourselves by transmuting the blame, criticism, and complaint we heave onto our hurt and transform these darts into opportunities to learn, discover, and find value from our pain. NEW CHOICE By changing how we think about something, we change how we experience it, including how much we suffer. The more we resist, the more it persists. Allowing and turning toward the pain creates space for

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