What is Pain?
Is it felt in your brain or in your finger when you poke it with a pin? Why pain, why not just a feeling of apprehension, why the white fire thrust of agony when a bone breaks? Well pain comes from our distant past when apprehension was the norm and pain would break us out of the norm and demand immediate attention.
Pain is more than physical. It also comes from psychological and spiritual sources, hence the expression a broken mind or a broken spirit. Physical pain, especially when we are in the process of damaging a part of our body is acute, while pain from past injures or from psychological or spiritual past damage is lingering and corrosive.
Most of us know how to deal with the acute and immediate pain. Stop doing what you are doing. If you are poking a stick in your eye, stop doing it. If you fell out of a tree and broke your leg, don’t climb back up in tree at least until you are healed up.
It is the lingering and corrosive pain that we all have trouble with. We are bound to have past injuries that plague us as we age in life. Most of us have broken something in our bodies, just as most of us have at times acquired psychological or spiritual damage along the way. These can flare up with a change of the weather, a turn of phrase or when we are mature enough to start asking the big questions (and be willing to stick around for the answers) like; “What am I doing here?”
Our brain manufactures natural opiates that help us deal with most background pain. A heroin addict, the first time they use the drug, is amazed at the quiet they feel within themselves. It’s almost like the quiet that is so profound when a noisy machine that has been on until you don’t notice any longer is turned off. As they habituate to the drug they stop producing their own opiates and when they stop it takes a few days for their bodies to remember how to make it and that is the agony called withdrawal. Our brains cannot tell the difference between physical, psychological or spiritual pain, if fact anxiety is processed in the same brain area as pain is. We have many strategies in dealing with pain, some work on inflammation while others work on elimination of the feeling of pain. Inflammation is the root of most physical pain, usually as arthritis affects some old injury and seems to be brought to a frenzy by the change of the weather. Applications of heat, cold and anti-inflammatory drugs can help but exercise can also be an effective prophylactic in keeping pain at bay.
Exercise works by burning off the go fast drugs that used to save us from the grizzly bear or by aiding us in catching the rabbit and then when we got away and were dining on raw bunny, we received a large dose of feel good drugs in our brains as a reward. These feel good drugs are our natural opiates and other exotics we create can not only deal with any pain we are feeling but also to set us up for a positive addiction, say for exercise. If we are addictive creatures we should choose our addictions carefully. Good sex, good food and good exercise are all addictive and all will do you wonders in the long run.
Pain is relative. Depressed people feel more pain for the same cause than non depressed people. The same goes for anxiety and fear. We are best to understand pain in context to our lives. It is like dealing with a rattle snake, if your attention is drawn to the rattle end you will get bit in the butt. Causality is an important concept in dealing with pain. Removing the painful stimulus is our prime response or should be. If it is a thorn in your toe remove it, if it is a bad relationship fix it or get out of it, if it is a spiritual hole in the centre of your being, fill it.
When dealing with secondary pain, pain that is now from a scared joint, a scared mind or a scared spirit is a little more tricky as the cause may be long gone. My recommendation is self knowledge, as knowledge is power. Therapy is a god send to help us find the root cause of psychological or spiritual pain. Exercise is a god send to help us stay strong, flexible and limber as we age, all the while dealing with the healed injuries that we have incurred along the way. Combining exercise with therapy can make the difference between a life that is worth living and one that must be endured.
Make good decisions, live a life worth living, become addicted to the good things in life and stay moving with some form of exercise. I cycle, you may walk, run or swim but the important thing is to do something that burns off the bad drugs you make so that you can access the good drugs you could make after exercise. Therapy will help you identify the root causes on your uncomfortable existence and help you deal with issues that have plagued you for decades. Go for it, you can stop growing when you are dead. Growth or decay are our choices so make good ones.