OUR BODY is a complex communication network of nerves that enable us to move, think and feel in myriad ways.
This system also makes us feel pain as a signal to our brain; it tells us that something is not right, or our body has been damaged in some way.
Acute pain is when the sensory nerves respond by firing off with an urgent message to be answered straight away.
It usually resolves within an expected amount of time and indeed the botanical pharmacy offers much to assuage this kind of acute pain and hasten healing.
Today though, we will examine chronic pain, when the initial pain receptors continue to fire after the injury.
It is pain that persists, nagging at us daily and corroding at our well being with its persistent heaviness.
It can be caused by a disease or condition that continuously causes damage. For example, with arthritis, the joint is in a constant state of disrepair, causing pain signals to travel to the brain with little down time.
Sometimes, there is no longer a physical cause of pain, but the pain response is the same.
In these cases, it is difficult to pin down the cause of the chronic pain and difficult to treat.
Any spiritual work that we do will be hindered and impeded by the presence of chronic pain in the body.
Of course, there is no shame using allopathic drugs to calm bad pain in order to find respite.
However, traditional herbal medicine can be a very helpful first port of call, to help subdue the aching, throbbing or gnawing sensations that won’t abate or allow us to rest so we can heal.
There are multiple herbal choices to help quell pain internally and externally. Plants and their extracts rich in analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, circulatory stimulating, rubefacient, infection-fighting actives to reach extensively beyond physical symptoms to the root cause.
Let us examine the metaphysical causation of pain
If the subtle always informs the gross, this means that the greatest leverage for healing will occur in the subtle realms of life.
The body is a map of every experience we ever had, as it bears the imprints of our entire past trauma, suffering and negative emotional states which lodge somewhere in our tissues.
As we bridge the mind, body and spirit we can better understand how trapped emotions block energy flow that manifests as physical ailments and pain.
The location of the pain gives us vital clues as to how we can focus our healing.
For instance, every body region is associated to a different energy chakra that represents different aspects of the psyche and awareness.
Pain is indeed a symptom of negative mental and emotional states that have not been differentiated or resolved.
Pain can be an opportunity to find true healing that will require deeper self-enquiry and the profound stillness from which its resolution can arise.
In order to emerge from our pain, we have to cultivate intimacy with it; in this way we start to liberate ourselves not only from our pain but also from the painful consequences of avoiding our pain.
Pain is like an anaerobic organism that grows stronger in the dark with no oxygen, light and little movement.
Forgivably, we try to suppress pain and mask its intensity with drugs, however sometimes it is helpful to focus the light of our attention into the pain itself to understand it for what it is.
It is futile trying to force pain to disappear, it won’t be bullied nor pushed away and neither can we block out awareness of it and pretend it doesn’t exist.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, in terms of the elements, often with pain there is very little expression of the air and water elements, representing fluidity, mobility and sattvic spaciousness.
Mostly it is the rajasic fire in inflammation and earth in a tamasic immobility and density that is present in dominant proportions.
We must set our intention to transform the elemental constitution of the body’s pain.
When we are in pain we often hold our breath, thinking that it might inhibit the pain, but we inadvertently fuel and perpetuate pain by not breathing into it.
If we let our selves breathe into the pain, it will often loosen its grip.
Imagine the body as not the solid thing we think we know but hollow at its core, something spacious made up of increasingly smaller Nano-particles that can be further nudged apart with the focussed attention and awareness of the directed breath.
Each breath breaks up congested clusters of atoms to create even more space and lightness, until there is no density, solid regions remaining.
The body and its sensations, be they pleasurable or painful, is always in a state of flux.
Nothing will ever stay the same, so pain will change too, and possibly move on, our task is to ride it on through.
Over time, the pain can begin to come undone and pass.
Cleverly constructed herbal blends can do much to assuage pain sufficiently, so we are able to accomplish this deeper spiritual work and bring about the longer-term relief of holistic healing.