Oh My Achin’ Back
By Pat Samples
A man I know complained of a painful spasm in his lower back. He was trying various remedies including rubbing the area and changing positions, and he was thinking about getting acupuncture treatment. I suggesting that he stop trying to make the pain go away and give it curious attention instead. Intrigued, he agreed to do so, under my guidance.
He lay down on the floor, and I invited him to simply observe what was happening in his back and tell me what he was experiencing. In the twenty or so minutes we worked together, several things took place. He discovered that the pain was not a constant nor stationery experience. Sometimes it was in the lower back, but then he’d notice discomfort above his eye and then in his shoulder and then his toe. The pain would arise and then subside in these various places while he was being attentive to his body without an “agenda” other than to notice his experience.
We carry strain and tension in many areas of our body, and they’re all interrelated. And they want our mindful attention. When we give it to them, with a willingness to learn, they gladly let us in on what’s happening, not as something for us to “think” about, but rather as an experience of ourselves. What we learn is subtle and not in our heads. Change happens without effort.
Very soon after we started, the man reported that he was feeling a lot more relaxed, as if he had let go of a heavy load, and he felt “expansive.” When we were finished, his back pain was greatly reduced and he experienced considerable ease moving through the rest of the day.
Part of the stress we have when we feel any kind of pain is from trying to make it go away. The pain is here to teach us something. This man, by observing, became aware of and emotional “heavy load” he’d been carrying, and in so doing, freed himself of it – without straining. He lessened his pain at the same time.
Our body is a wonderful teacher and guide when we become its willing students.
Pat Samples is the author of The Secret Wisdom of a Woman’s Body: Freeing Yourself to Live Passionately and Age Fearlessly and other books on body wisdom, creative aging, and inspired living. Samples helps people in midlife and older uncover the brilliance in their bodies and express their creativity. Learn more about her workshops and resources at http://www.patsamples.com