For most of us, it's pretty difficult to stay cheerful and pleasant when we're in pain and, honestly, I'm not sure it's particularly healthy to try. We do, however, have to keep following the best path we can for ourselves.
We find ways to laugh, to keep a mostly hopeful outlook, and to keep searching for new alternatives and looking out for any light we can perceive in the distance.
Despite our generally positive attitude, however, over time we often find ourselves feeling worn down. We've tried everything to heal our condition, and to relieve our pain, yet we're still in it.
A Daily Act of Courage
Over time, we can sink almost imperceptibly lower and lower emotionally into a kind of ever-present depression, where life seems gray and lifeless and it becomes a major act of courage just to get up and face another day. I think of this as a kind of seeping loss of hope that can drain whatever remaining well being we have, if we're not careful. Giving up, giving in, abandoning hope, and abandoning ourselves may be just around the corner.
When I feel like this, I have to remind myself that every day I'm alive I'm in some kind of process, or practice. I'm either moving toward more wellness of whatever kind I can manage, physical or emotional, or I am allowing the pain in my body to decide for me how I feel about myself and about life.
If I insist that pain must leave completely before I can be happy again, then I am making it the master of my emotional well being.
The Practice of Finding Balance
Certainly, living with pain is not a path anyone in their right mind would consciously choose as a spiritual practice for themselves. It is a difficult and lonely path that we walk out of necessity, quiet and internal, but it can also be surprisingly deep and rich.
It's not that being in pain is inherently spiritual, despite the fact that some religions consider suffering to be a holy sacrament (a concept I don't embrace). For me, it's certainly not the suffering or the pain or some kind of sacred martyrdom that gives a spiritual quality to the path through pain.
It's how we are with the pain. It's what we do and don't do with it and through it.
Standing With The Self Through Pain
And that standing with the self, believing in the self, not giving up on the self, whatever that looks like for each of us, can be incredibly hard to do - to not take the path of hating life, of hating who we are, of hating the circumstances - that standing with the self through the difficulties, is the path.
And when we find the bitterness, the anger, and the hatred rising up - toward ourselves or toward the circumstances - we can feel it and let it pass through. We choose to honor what's coming up, but we choose not to live there.
It's a daily spiritual practice to constantly return to openness to whatever good the day may bring, to be present with ourselves no matter what the circumstances may be, and to express.our inner spirits, however little and however much we can manage to do authentically, despite the challenges and through the challenges of living with our pain.
And doing that is a very deep spiritual practice. It takes courage and fortitude, resolution and determination, and an inner choice which we must constantly renew (despite pain's insistence to the contrary) to stand with ourselves, and remain the center and the heart of our own lives.