Changing Our Perspective of Pain

The very essence of Shoshin is to approach our lives and our practice with a beginner's mind. In a beginner's mind all possibilities are open. We approach our physical system with a curiosity and inquisitiveness when we come to the mat.  

Shoshin Yoga is an inquiry into of some of the deepest and most subtle aspects of the physical, emotional and mental body. It's a highly sensitive exploration that uses asana (postures) to create sensation or vibrations of feedback from the system. Sometimes during practice, past injuries and trauma the body has stored over time can trigger thoughts, memories and emotions. When new to the practice and when new to yoga in general, these sensations can seem completely foreign and unexpected. 

We always want to practice with ahimsa, or non-violence towards ourselves. Our practice should never been aggressive or threatening. We want the nervous system to always feel safe, and the movements should be small, soft, and subtle. It's a gradual process to uncover and release the layers of tension that have built up over time. The practice can touch into parts of the system that don't typically get accessed–specifically the tissues and joints, where trauma is deceptively hidden. If you ever come into a yoga position that feels unsafe or threatening to the nervous system, you should immediately lower the level of intensity. If you lower the level of intensity and you still feel uncomfortable, you should leave the pose and lie down to rest until everything neutralizes. 

Let's explore the word PAIN.

Pain is a highly charged word in our society., something we typically tend to either identify with or avoid. It comes with a lot of perceptions, definitions and maybe even for some, it's is an all too familiar part of day to day life. We all have experienced both physical and emotional pain at some point throughout the course of our life. 

What if we removed the word "pain" entirely from our vocabulary and replaced it with the word "FEEDBACK?"

Rather than: "I'm in a lot of pain."

We replace it with: "I'm receiving a lot of feedback from my system."

These two statements feel entirely different, and its highly probable that whichever statement is repeated, validated and believed in again and again, will create two entirely different experiential realities. 


Let's look more deeply at each statement.

Statement A: "I am in a lot of pain."

Automatically, this statement refers to the sense of self as "I" the body, whether that be the physical, mental or emotional body. Yoga helps you to become more soft and intimate with yourself—not ‘you’ a body, but rather, ‘you’ the conscious awareness that is noticing the body, thoughts, emotions, sensations and breath. Pain is typically associated as something negative or unwanted. By affirming "I am in pain," thought (mind) mistakes pain for the Self. 

Statement B: "i am receiving a lot of feedback."

In order to experience our true nature, space must be cultivated between 'you' (the conscious awareness) and the body-mind. When we replace the word "pain" with "feedback," we invite a new perspective and relationship into our experience. Feedback is interpreted more positively than pain, and generally would point to some kind of intelligence or insight. In this new perspective, we are training ourselves to shift our fear and avoidance, or our identification with pain towards trusting and embracing our body's natural intelligence and ability to respond and heal. 

All sensation is inherently neutral. Alone, sensations are neither good nor bad. Sensations created from yoga postures are just vibrations of feedback from your system’s own intelligence. The sensations don’t appear in your body, but rather, they appear to you as the consciousness that is aware of the body.

Consistent practice of cultivating this new perspective on sensation, pain, and feedback, will create more freedom in the mind and in the body. If we want to live an undivided life, if we want to know the totality of our being, then we have to meet ALL of ourselves. Not just the good things but also the pain, the tension, the fear. We all have it but it’s not what we are. We must hold our pain in the light of awareness. 

The pain that we’ve either been identified with or trying to avoid, is a sacred messenger of wisdom, insight, and clarity. It carries an intelligence that can only be revealed when fully met, fully allowed, and fully embraced. Pain is communication. Pain is feedback.  

Your life - all of your life - both pleasant and unpleasant - is your path to awakening. By resisting or not dealing with its challenges, you stay asleep to Reality.

Keep paying attention to what your system is attempting to communicate to you. 

Ayla Sarnoff