Our physical bodies are but one aspect of our human existence, and yet they scream and demand our attention from time to time, shouting “I’m in pain. Do something!” So we do something. Sometimes we feel the need to see our physician. We take various medications for the physical, the mental and, often for the emotional needs, hoping that will take care of it. Sometimes we go to bed and pull the covers over our head hoping the pain will just go away by itself. And, sometimes those tactics work well.
Sometimes they don’t.
The pain continues to tap us on the shoulder. “I’m here,” it seems to say. This is not because you are doing something wrong.
“I’m still here, waiting for you to listen to what I what you to know.”
So now what do we do?
Ah… now is when the real work begins. Now is when we take a few deep breaths and begin to listen to what the pain is saying. We remind ourselves that pain is a brilliant messenger, here to remind us that something within our physical bodies needs our attention, not out of punishment, not out of a badness within ourselves, but just as a th-thumping noise under your car alerts you to a problem with your tire, you know it is a good idea to stop the car and attend to the flat.
Listening, real listening is an art form, requiring patience, focus and a willingness to practice the art over and over and over again. I suspect there is a part of us that is sending important, even critical, messages to us all the time. Many people call that Soul Speak. It doesn’t always come in the form of words, however, so our job is to open our inner “ears” to a different language, one that comes in the form of feelings. The precious elder in my book used to call them “chill thrills,” that sensation we’ve all experienced that produces goosebumps from your scalp to the soles of your feet. When I feel that extraordinary awareness I have learned to trust that I’m on the right track for my highest purpose, my highest good.
The next time you experience a pain, whether physiological, psychological or spiritual, take a moment to get quiet within your mind… and ask the pain: What do you want to tell me? And, then listen intently to the answer. It will be there the moment you ask the question if you are willing to hear it.
You have nothing to lose.
About Kelsey Collins
Kelsey Collins is an acclaimed author, elder advocate and vivacious speaker acknowledged by her peers for her expertise in elder care and her life’s work towards redefining the caregiver-caregivee experience. Kelsey is regularly invited to speak to caregivers and their institutions at local and national conferences, exploring issues facing aging populations, the implications for healthcare systems and service providers, and the changing roles and responsibilities of family caregivers. Kelsey recently spoke at the Oregon Hospice Association Professional Practices Exchange focused on the challenges and opportunities hospice and palliative care providers face in providing end-of-life services in an ever changing environment.