Reclaim control over physical pain by understanding its connection to emotional fear and stress
A friend just texted me because her back has gone into acute spasms. She’s in a lot of pain and afraid.
I knew exactly what she was talking about, since only a few weeks ago I had experienced a very similar situation and I was afraid, too. Why do we go to that place where ‘fear’ lives when we have an issue with our back? To answer this question, I began to connect the physical aspects of our backbone to our emotional ones.
The spine, or backbone, is made up of all these vertebrae that line up and work together to allow for flexibility. The backbone is what supports us and allows us to move and do what we want and need to do. It allows us to be physically independent.
On a spiritual level, we straighten the spine to connect up to a higher source.
In yoga, we call this connecting to our main energy channel or nadi, in this case the sushumna nadi. If the back is causing pain, we cannot elongate the spine and ‘connect’. We feel separated on our spiritual level; we feel alone and helpless. We are afraid.
A back can ‘go out’ for many reasons, both physical and psychological. Any form of acute trauma to the spine is dangerous. This can happen because of an accident we couldn’t have predicted — or could we? Stress is often a cause, and we know there’s plenty of that around! The more stressed we are, the more we activate the three major stress hormones that activate the fight or flight reaction into our lives: Adrenaline, Cortisol, Norepinephrine. The more stress we experience, the less present we are in the moment. We can be distracted and careless and accidents are more likely to happen.
On a certain level, we have many reasons to be fearful. It just so happens that almost none of them are good ones. It takes a lot of work and practice to get to the point where most of the reasons that cause us to be afraid can be seen as harmless. Some of us are more susceptible to stress than others.
What if we had ways to decrease how much stress we experience? What if it is actually a choice?
There are many ways to decrease stress, from meditation to yoga, tai chi, acupuncture, diet, sleep patterns and other habits and healing modalities. In yoga, we combine many different practices through the physical, mental and spiritual realm to achieve peace on all those levels. Pranayama, or yogic breathwork, can be extremely helpful. In the end, no matter which path you take, the bottom line is you have a CHOICE! Is it that easy? No, of course not, and REMEMBERING that we have a choice is, in itself, a practice. That means practicing every day, ideally all the time, though it is very unlikely that anyone can be that AWARE all the time.
To decrease your stress, start by noticing where you hold fear in your body. For some it’s a pain in the heart, a feeling of anxiety. Others might feel it in their stomach, or get a headache. For some, it’s the back. Fear and stress cause pain somewhere in your body. Figure out what it is for you and begin to recognize the signs, the clues. This takes awareness! So start by staying present to what you feel on every level: body, mind and spirit. Practice presence. The more you are aware of ‘you’ in each moment, the more you can adjust to your situation.
When you are present, you can remember that you have a choice in how you experience every situation that arises.
When you remember that you have a choice in how you react, why would you choose pain and fear? Take a deep breath and ask yourself, do I want to react angrily? Do I want to allow fear and or anxiety to paralyze me? Do I want to feel so much stress that my back ‘goes out’, or I get a migraine headache or gastro-intestinal discomfort?
Just to be clear, I am by no means saying all of these ailments are caused by fear and stress. I am saying they can be, and I have experienced them myself. There are certainly times when fear and stress are natural and even necessary for self-protection, like if you are about to be hit by a car, or threatened in some way, but it’s just not healthy to live in that state all or most of the time, even at a low-grade level.
My practice is is this: I try to REMEMBER to stay PRESENT in order to be AWARE of what I am thinking, feeling, absorbing — and when I am present and aware, I can CHOOSE what to do, say and feel, untethered by the past and without anxiety about the future. And you can, too!
You may also enjoy reading The Magic of Self Love and Positive Energetic Vibration by Karemjeet Kaur