Tuesday, August 15, 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. Dare to see that they are not a project to be solved, but a mystery unfolding into form.

At times, there is no apparent solution, but only raw, naked life, as it erupts in a sensitive nervous system. 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.

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. Grace has appeared as the darkness, come to seed new meaning.

During the most difficult times, it is not usually answers that are most helpful, or strategies, techniques, advice, or teachings. Give the gift of a regulated, soothed nervous system, one that is not urgently scrambling for a cure. 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 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 rawness, 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 the purpose of their symptoms, and stay close as they attempt to make sense of what is happening. 

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 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 psyche and soma, come not to harm, but as ambassadors of wholeness. As forerunners of creativity, rebirth, resurrection, and new life.

Photo by Johnny Franzen

My new book – The Path Is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – is now available