Friday, March 15, 2013

No pain no gain?

One of my favourite high school teachers used to say "We grow through pain." I didn't buy it then, and I don't buy it now.  I look at small children and small plants. They are wonderful examples of growth. And no sane person believes that pain makes them grow faster or better. It's the sunshine the brings out the crocuses, not the ice storms.

I think we all want to believe that pain causes growth because it makes sense of pain. Since we all experience pain, it's rather nice to think that we gain something from the experience. We are even motivated to make that seem true, motivated to turn our thoughts or our actions in a new direction after pain.

For the past two months, I have had the opportunity to explore pain from the inside. A yoga injury led to a back problem which led to problems standing.  I have become creative at manoeuvring through my day without being too limited by my limits. It does not feel to me like growth. It feels to me like being stopped in my tracks and forced to admit how much I want growth to happen.

Pain makes it hard to stand still. For me, this has been a literal truth. I still don't believe that pain is the only or best way to grow. I don't even believe that growth happens during pain. I do acknowledge that pain focuses attention on the parts of us that want to grow. And when I have provided enough of the good stuff to promote the growth, I believe the pain will move to the edges and allow me to focus more peacefully.

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