In all the discussions of pain meds, various approaches to healing, and alternative treatments and modalities, we don’t want to overlook a key aspect of the nature of pain.
Pain is a messenger. It is here because it has something to say.
Giving pain a voice can help it, in incremental stages, to complete, release, and move on.
What does it mean to give pain a voice? You may already be familiar with journaling and telling your pain story as a way to relieve the emotional ramifications of living with chronic pain.
The Inside Story
For example: the next time you decide to journal, instead of writing about your own feelings and experiences as your personality self, try taking a deep breath and stepping into the pain. (I know, at first you may think, yuck, why would I step into my pain? It’s already hard enough to live with it. But bear with me.)
From the experience of being within the pain, begin to write what pain wants to say.
Write as if you are your pain speaking. Write about what pain itself feels like to be in your body, what pain wants, what pain is trying to accomplish by being there. Don’t try to figure this out in your head. Just go into a slightly altered state of consciousness and let the words flow, even if they seem like nonsense at first.
Ask pain questions, and let it respond. Who are you? What are you? What are you doing in my body? What do you really want? How can I help? How can I soothe? How can I heal?
If it’s difficult to step out of your thinking mind and you find yourself trying too hard to come up with answers for pain, try writing with your non-dominant hand.
I Have Something To Say...
Experiment with other ways to let pain express too. Instead of journaling, you can try speaking for pain. Designate a chair in the room as pain’s chair for a moment. Then go sit in it and speak into the room as pain (or do this from bed if you aren’t mobile right now). Just let the words flow.
Pain may surprise you. It may express as very angry about being stifled all the time. Or very tender. Or confused. Or incredibly sad.
Don’t try to analyze it while it’s happening. Just let pain express as pain wants to, however that is. Right now, even though pain feels like a nasty invader, it’s living in your body and it’s a part of your experience that needs to be heard.
It’s part of you expressing as pain.
Humming, Vocalizing, Singing, Lamenting
Again, take a breath and go into the experience of pain in your body, and then begin to hum from that place. Experiment with very high and very, very low pitches. Let the hum express the sound of pain.
Then, if you're feeling adventurous, let the humming morph into other sounds: moans, groans, high pitched whines, sobs, sighs. Whatever sound wants to come from the pain in your body. It's most freeing to just let them come out in whatever form they want to take, whether loud or soft.
If you're self conscious or there are others in the house you don't want to disturb, you can make the sounds into a pillow. Just make sure you're listening. You are the most important person to hear the sounds of your own pain. It is a way of witnessing, validating, and releasing the pain you're in.
Do this for as long as you want (or until the dog starts howling.) If you're musically inclined, you might want to make up a song of lament, or a song of freedom. Give pain the stage for a few moments.
It All Helps
Resting often. Reducing stress and staying as calm as possible. Releasing held or restricted breath and allowing its life-giving and healing force to move more freely through the body.
And giving pain a voice.
Remember, since chronic pain is multi-layered and complex, probably no single thing you do to heal, soothe, express, or release your pain is going to be the whole story of your healing. Yet all of the simple, yet profound practices we put into effect on a daily basis have a positive cumulative effect. I can testify to that.
Disclaimer: Nothing in this article is meant as medical advice.