Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Pain is not pathology

When sitting with a friend in pain, it may not be the moment to provide answers, but to hold them as you confront the vastness of the question together. They are not a project to be solved, but a mystery of love unfolding into form. At times, there is no apparent solution, but only raw, naked life, as it erupts in a sensitive nervous system. Care for them, hold their hand, make them some tea… walk with them into the fire of their immediate experience, trusting in its validity and intelligence. They are vast and contain multitudes.

The invitation is to stay in the complexity, the contradictions, and the energy of the opposites, for it is alive here and overflowing with a nonordinary wisdom. Dare to affirm with the earth as your witness: Pain is not pathology. Confusion is not pathology. Heartbreak is not pathology. Only path, this time appearing in a fierce and wrathful form. In ways the mind may always struggle to understand, at times grace will appear as darkness… but it is still grace nonetheless, come to re-order and seed meaning.

At these times, it is not usually answers that are most helpful, or strategies, techniques, and teachings. Give them the gift of a regulated, soothed nervous system, one that is not urgently scrambling for a cure. For it is your presence that will relieve them of the burden that they must transform, “get over it,” or “heal” in order for you to stay close.

Yes, something is attempting to break through, but just what that is cannot be known in a field of urgency, which is very unsafe, for it is not able to circle and provide sanctuary for the sensitivity, the vulnerability, and the tender unfolding of a heart in pain.

Slowly accompany them as they return into their window of tolerance. Contain the fire with the cooling rain of nonjudgmental, empathic attunement. Once some calm has returned, listen carefully as they attempt to make meaning of their experience, explore together the purpose of their symptoms, and stay close as they attempt to make sense of their life. Construct a crucible together in which the feelings, thoughts, and sensations can be held and integrated, weaved into a larger vision of who they are and honoring what is most important to them.

Within this sanctuary, which is alchemical by its nature, even pain, hopelessness, and confusion are revealed to be harbingers of integration, disguised messengers of soma and psyche who have come to herald new life. As your perception is cleansed, the purity of these ones will clarify, and their purpose will become known.

Photo by Johnny Franzen

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