by Sherry Scheideman, MA, Registered Clinical Counsellor.
Pain can help us become less prejudiced against people and situations in the world around us.
When physical or emotional pain is strong or persistent, it’s hard to not tense up and wish it weren’t happening. But the more we practice re-framing pain as sensations, and relaxing into those sensations, the more skilled we get – and the less pain is in our life.
I’m starting to think that prejudice originates in the body: by labelling some physical and emotional sensations as good while rejecting others as pain, we are practicing discrimination — passing judgement on what is acceptable/tolerable and what is not. This is a closed-minded, narrow perspective.
If we have a closed-minded and narrow perspective on the inner workings of our body, we are likely to have a closed-minded and narrow perspective on the workings of the outer world. After all, our body is where we really experience the world.
So, if we aspire to be more open-minded, accepting, and tolerant on a social or political level, we need to be open-minded, accepting, and tolerant of our own physical and emotional bodily experience.
Illness and injury can really help us become more open-minded, because they relentlessly present us with physical and emotional sensations that are easily judged as painful. When we work to welcome such sensations as valid parts of our life experience, rather than judging them and building walls against them, we drop old prejudices. We open to the goodness and instruction that is there.
With this process of acceptance going on in our own body, we see the world through accepting eyes. We see abundant goodness and kind instruction all around us.
Our bodily experience is our way of living in the world. We can’t control everything that happens in our bodies, just like we can’t control everything that happens in the world… but we can work to experience it kindly. Our reward is to then see kindness everywhere.
Thank you, pain, for challenging us enough to make it worth our while to develop kind eyes.
If you’re having trouble with this process, come in for counselling and I’ll work on it with you.
by Sherry Scheideman, MA, Registered Clinical Counsellor, Victoria BC.