Pain, My Teacher

Last week, as I was completing squats, my neck seized and went into spasm.  Hurt like the very devil, but did I stop? No, I  finished lifting, went on to yoga, and then topped off with some cardio.  The pain and stiffness got worse and worse until I could hardly move my head.  As I was lying in bed, trying to find a comfortable position, I began thinking about what I could learn from my situation.  Here is what came to mind…

 Pain is the body communicating.  What was my body trying to tell me?

  1. When did I decide that it was okay to ignore my own feelings?
  2. Was I too prideful to step out of a situation that wasn’t serving me?
  3. Why do I think that doing is more important than being?
  4. How can I determine when I should push through or step back?
  5. Why am I so inflexible?                               

 There’s clarity to be found in getting still and quiet.  What lessons did my curiosity reveal?


  1.  Pain is the ultimate wake up call.  It only occurs after I ignore more gentle warnings.  
  2. Comparing my performance to others is ignoring my own progress.  The phrase compare and despair comes to mind.  I will never be enough if I think my worth is based on how well I perform compared to others.  Work to be my best me, not anyone else.
  3. Ego is a great teacher.  It’s wonderful to challenge myself, but pushing and pulling never gets me where I want to go.  My ego tells me I should be able to take on any challenge on any given day.  That’s a perfectionist attitude.  It doesn’t leave room for listening to the cues of the body.  Have I had enough nutrition?  Did I get a poor night’s sleep?  Is my form compromised due to a sore muscle?  Listen.  Progress not perfection is the ultimate goal.
  4. Doing more does not make me a better person.  Being a human being makes me uniquely special.  I don’t have to prove that to myself or anyone else.  I am, therefore I have value.
  5. Listening to the cues of my body will tell me what I need to know.  Pain, stress, and resistance are all cues that I am pushing too hard.  Rest, relaxation, and recovery will lead me to greater gains than pushing, berating, and ignoring.
  6. Cultivating mental flexibility creates more physical flexibility.  It’s great to have a schedule or routine.  However, I need to allow for the wisdom of my body to tell me when I need to modify it for that day.

Are you struggling through a painful situation?  Are you ready to get quiet and to use curiosity to guide you through the resistance?

What are your challenges here to teach you?

I’m listening…




6 thoughts on “Pain, My Teacher

  1. What an important post! Thank you for sharing this experience. I, too, have ignored gentle messages at times only to be given a message so loud and clear (pain, whether it be physical or emotional) that it could no longer be ignored! The lesson for me at times like this is exactly what you said – get still, just be.

  2. What an amazing blog, Barbara! I needed to hear this so very much! My favorites are “Compare & Despair” and “Doing more does NOT make me better”. Thank you for speaking to my mind and soul today 🙂

  3. I really enjoyed this blog on pain and listening. It spoke so clearly to me. Comparing is one of my difficult areas. Feeling less. I especially liked being reminded to be quiet, still and to listen. Thank you so much.

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