Thursday, January 3, 2013

Phantom Physical Pains and Spiritual Awakening

spiritual photo, spiritual flowers, spiritual awakening, spirituality
One of the often discussed, but rarely understood topics of spiritual awakening is the pain that many people experience in their bodies as they embody this awakened awareness. I've seen plenty of long lists of so-called symptoms, but generally speaking, there's a limited understanding of what this pain is about. There is also the unfortunate reality that people with actual medical issues may avoid seeking appropriate help by immediately trying to assume that because their issues are on an awakening list that they no longer need to do anything with doctors. This is not true. Western doctors are as much a part of this world as energy healers and other healers.

But with all of this said--and a firm encouragement to seek out help if things ever get too painful--there is the very real truth that you may feel discomfort to intense pain during a shift from the unconscious to awakened state. If you truly are in this transition, there will be nothing actually wrong with your body, and for those who have gone to doctors and been told that there's nothing wrong, you can simply trust in that assessment. You are transitioning into your natural awakened rhythms. A lot of old pain is coming up. It may continue that way for sometime, but you are not imagining the pain. It is real, so don't ignore it. Face it, and give it space to release.


Forms of Resistance to Awakening

In regards to the spiritual path, pain is often a sign of resistance. Consider that you are an ice cube transforming into water vapor. The energy needed to move you to the water vapor state can be intense. A lot of energy is needed to excited all those molecules into a faster vibration. That's not necessarily comfortable. But what's worse is that we're usually committed to different states of awareness. We say, "No, no, no. I was happy being an ice cube." So we resist the shift, which exacerbates the pain. Anywhere that we resist this shift, there will be an intensification of pain. There may already be pain and discomfort, but active resistance makes it worse.

I'd say that there are two main forms of resistance we all have:

  • Active resistance
  • Passive resistance
Active resistance is when we are making a decision to fight something inside of us. Passive resistance can be the resistance within us that we are unaware of. As we become more aware of ourselves, we often see new levels of passive awareness. Say for instance that you've always thought you believed in yourself. Then as you better understand yourself, you see that you have huge self-worth issues that you've covered up with an arrogant ego, which was what you considered believing in yourself to be. When you see that self-worth issue, you can then see other ways that you've been resisting this process. Once this is in your awareness, you can let go of this next level of resistance that you didn't even know you were doing. Then you bring in more awareness to see even more about yourself because often these types of passive resistance are layered. One layer hides the next, hides the next, and so on. This is where humility is vital because you will suddenly be confronted by truly how little you know about yourself.


Karmic Resistance and Past Lives

I'd say 90% of people will have more than enough work to do with the first two types of resistance (and yes, I totally made up that percentage). However, some of you will have karmic resistance and resistance stemming from past lives (although I'd call them concurrent lives. There is no time. Everything is happening all at once. Think about it for awhile. It's a good way to make the ego mind go to mush because it thinks so linearly). Invasive past lives interfere with your growth and develop in this lifetime, and that kind of resistance needs to be met as much as the other forms of resistance. I don't talk about past lives too much because there are people who are more interested in escaping the difficulties of this world or spiritual thrill-seeking than actually doing work. But I've always found that clearing past lives is a pretty simple matter of becoming aware of what the attachment is with that life. Then I create a visualization with a giant pair of scissors to cut that cord. That's worked for me as far as I can remember, and as always, there are people who can help you clean up this kind of issue if you need it.

General karmic resistance is kind of like the black mold in the garage or basement of the spiritual path. We don't really know how long it has been there. We don't really know how it got there or what caused it (okay, so we do know the causes for mold. Just go with the metaphor here. Imagine this is some kind of unexplainable mold). But it's here, and it's uncomfortable or down-right painful. For me, I know I'm dealing with general karmic crap build-up when I really have no feelings, thoughts, or stories coming from it other than general discomfort. The discomfort can be anywhere in the body too. So you can imagine that this old, old issue is lodged in your voice. Your eye-ear-noise-throat doctor says nothing is wrong and tells you to suck on some more lozenges. But that's not getting at it. I've found energy work and visualization in my meditation helps. But mainly it's just about being aware of it, and that awareness is like a beam of light. Over time, it burns that old karma away. Then it releases, and much like my blog about releasing pain, there usually follows a whole new level of opening in your life when something so dark, deep, and uncomfortable releases.


Mystery Body Pains Remain a Mystery

So for the karmic junk, many of the pains you will have felt in your body will remain a mystery. It's not a conclusion I recommend running to. All the other tools that I recommend on this blog (journaling, meditation, spiritual healers, spiritual teachers, spiritual community, etc.) are aimed at helping you to know your space. That's really the big thing about spiritual awakening in many ways; you are suddenly getting to know you. For many of you, that awareness brings the awareness that you are living in a lot of pain. Many people unfortunately try to blame the awakening as the generator of that pain. While awakening is kind of like a flood that pressurizing everything, what is it that is being pressurized? It's you and all your resistance to...well, to you. In many respects, the illumination of enlightenment shows you how much you don't like you and have fought yourself your whole life. Seeing that reality under a big spotlight by itself can be overwhelming for many people, and when it comes time to clean up your inner space, the accompanying pain may feel excruciating. I felt divorced from my body for about a year and a half. It was a terrible feeling, but there was much that I didn't know about myself. Until awakening, I was pretty much a mystery to me, which is a sad thing to say. And then I learned about me.

With that said, there are some things that you will never really know what they are. Some phantom pain in your chest, your ear, your left foot, and so forth comes and goes. You feel better, and not just better, but it's like you're renewed when an issue leaves during this time period. There is a big difference between relief and release. When someone feels relief, it's just because the issue isn't being activated anymore. The issue, however, is still there. So when another similar situation arises, that issue will cause more pain again. With release, similar situations can arise, but you won't be in pain anymore. If you truly released your issues with your mother that were lodged in your heart, when she suddenly tries to start running your life again, you won't be bothered. Your body won't resonate with what she's saying. You may actually feel love and compassion even if she's being cruel.


Listening to the Stories of Your Body

But most of all before we start blaming karma or claiming all body pains are mysterious, it's important to listen. Listen to your body. We live in a culture that abuses the body. Your body may have a lot of pain simply because you've been abusing it this whole time. Maybe your whole brow ridge is sore constantly not because of a third eye/6th chakra opening, but because you've been plucking your eyebrows for most of your life. Now, that you're listening you can hear your body yelling, "OW!" Sometimes, it really is as simple as that. Your body is saying, "What you did hurt me, and I don't want to do that anymore." For many women, they've tortured their bodies their whole lives, and awakening shows them this truth. Men do it too, but generally speaking, not as much for beauty. More commonly, men torture their bodies emotionally. Many men are walking powder kegs of pent up and unexpressed emotions, which can lead to all kinds of physical discomfort. Most men in Western Society seem to wait for a heart attack to actually tell them how emotionally wounded they are.

The main message here is to start listening. Maybe you need to journal about it. Maybe you need to ask for forgiveness from your body for whatever you've done. If you've been into contact sports, imagine all the times where you've hit someone. That shared pain is stored in your body. The body may want you to remember and release that pain. There can be so much pain stuck in the body, and it is important to remember that the body is a sacred vessel. So to embody the awakened self means that you need to allow your body to heal the old wounds and pains that you've experienced in this and other lifetimes.


Problems With Sexuality and Sexual Pain

One of the darker aspects of this culture is how we ignore sexuality, but the body does not do this. Sexuality and sexual organs are as much a part of the body as fingers, teeth, and hair. For anyone who has had sexual abuse, these issues are often even more greatly repressed. The resulting pain memories that surface as awakening dredges all things up to the light from the bottom of the river may be really intense. Some people lose the ability to be aroused because it's like the body is saying until you know how to heal this space, you can't use it. A lot of things can go on down in this space, which is why I'm such a strong advocate of a personal spiritual sexual practice to loving reclaim this space. Sexuality is not segregated from spirituality, and it is unfortunate that this idea ever took root. So if you are having phantom physical pains in the space of your sexuality, then now more than ever is an important time to develop a personal practice to lovingly and mindfully bring awareness to this space.


Releasing of Phantom Pain, Arising of New Pain

As you integrate the awakened self, you will notice that almost as one phantom pain dissolves, another arises. This is natural. Your body is finally doing the healing it has been trying to do all your life. Because most of our lives we've learned to ignore, avoid, and repress pain, we've built up a nasty backlog of pain and discomfort. It's not that awakening and integration is meant to feel painful. It's that we've stored up tons of pain through neglect. If we have two broken legs that we've walked on our whole lives, we have to heal them before we can start running. And that may take awhile depending on how much damage--conscious or unconscious--we've done to ourselves. Hence, many of you will go through intense healing cycles before you can really expand into the awakened presence. It's normal, natural, and healthy even if it isn't a whole lot of fun. But this kind of inner purification will also make everything so much clearer in your life, and it becomes increasingly easy to just do what feels intuitively right.

I'm not going to list out all the pains you can have and associate them with awakening. Ultimately, I encourage you to go within when a strange pain arises. Ask yourself a couple of questions:

  • "Is this just physical in nature?"
  • "Do I need external help to heal it?"
  • "Do I only need to be present and lovingly aware of it?
  • "Do I need to dig into it to understand it and release it?"
  • "Is this something I am actively or passively resisting?"
  • "Do I just need to rest?"

Then listen to your first intuitive answers and trust them. More often than not, I've found that rest is the most important part of the whole process. Given space, your soul and body are an amazing team. They can figure it out. So as fear arises that something might be horribly wrong, just let that go. Don't let the fear take hold and create new issues. Release that. Be present to how you are feeling and do what feels intuitively right for you. It is all part of a sacred process of integrating and holding the beautiful light that you already are.

The photo comes from my friend and reader, Becky Stiller. You can check out her beautiful work on her flickr link.

You can watch this video for more on physical pain and awakening:
 
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