How to Relax Even in Pain
You cannot stop them
You cannot torch them
Invincible creatures of torture
That cannot define nurture
Surrendering cripples torture
Invincible creatures of torture
Human life is entangled with pain. It is interwoven in the fabric of human consciousness. Statistics reports that thousands of Americans suffer from pain, and millions of dollars are lost in treatment and production because people cannot work in times of pain. Dr. Richard Steinback, author of “Mastering Pain” reports that: “Chronic pain affects 30 percent of all Americans, and about one half of two thirds of these are either partially or totally disabled for periods of days, weeks and months, and some permanently.” Americans suffer from pain in various forms and degrees, ranging from acute to chronic pain. But, in whatever form it comes, it cripples our effectiveness, it destroys our brain cells; the capacity to think rationally and finally kills us. Pain is a killer. But, even in the face of this disaster, we can relax even in pain.
Pain is a sharp ache or hurt that causes discomfort or mental or physical anguish. Although medical research tells us that pain is a symptom of sickness inside us, yet, pain still grips our lives. Pain is a puzzle; enigma interwoven in the fabric of human consciousness. But we must still learn to relax and live productive lives in times of pain. You ask how can I do that?
First, recognize that your body is made of two parts – the mind or soul or spirit and the body. We shall use the mind in this article. Your pain comes from your body, not from your mind. Your mind controls your body. Sometimes, your pain comes from your heart or chest, but not from your mind. Do not succumb to the pressure of the body to crumble in times of pain for the mind controls the body. The mind regulates the activities of the body. The mind is in charge and should tell the body what to do. So you should do the following to alleviate of eliminate pain and still relax.
Learn to relax in times of pain. We live in a high-tech; high economic scramble; high social frenzy; high capitalistic production; high divorce rate and unemployment; violence and fear. People are always in quest for something; inquest of fun; inquest for the material. It seems the modern scientific discoveries rob us of our spiritual inner – wholeness, and we are like a brood of chicken groping in darkness looking for their mother. In this case our mother is the “Spiritual Wholeness” which the material has substituted. The trauma is causing a lot of pain for many individuals across the country. Few know how to relax. Few know that the body needs relaxation. So when the body is overworked, the muscles suffer pain. Sometimes, the damage is so crucial and fatal because the body has been abused for a long time. When there is a great mental and physical pain, still, learn to relax despite the cause of the pain.
What does it mean to relax? To relax means to relinquish one’s grip, to let go, to release, to be still, to be quiet, to be calm, to be free. When the muscles are overworked and disconnected; when there is a chronic pain; you must relax to give the mind control to regroup and restore the body. At this point, your body is like a car whose parts are disconnected. It has no life. It is unproductive. Then the mechanic puts the part together; puts oil in the parts; cleans the car. After the service, the car runs great. So is the human body. .
How profound the interest and service we give to our cars, yet, little time is given to the relaxation of the human body, which we cannot exchange like cars. The human body must be serviced, oiled and restored at all times. You must relax. Be still. Be quiet. Let your muscles, your mind, your whole body be free of problems, distractions, be free and enjoy the freedom of peace and quietness. Turn your TV off. Don’t be afraid of quietness or solitude. It is healing. Sometimes, people go on a long holiday only to come back home more tired and pressured – paradoxical, is it not? Because they never relaxed and don’t know how to relax. In relaxation, you relinquish every activity of the mind and body. Yes, you have pain; yes, the pain is excruciating; you must let your mind control your body and relax. Life is a warfare. You must battle to win. You must battle to maintain balance over your mind and body. There are things the body wants which the mind realizes are a threat to the body, so the mind refuses to grant the request to the body. The mind is the thinking part of us. Remember, the mind regulates the body, so the body must listen to the mind and learn to relax in pain. That means put one’s head down; release yourself: mind and body, problems, distractions, whatever and be quiet.
Secondly, learn to forgive those who hurt you. An unforgiving spirit causes great pain in our heart or chest, and is the cause of many diseases. Anger, bitterness and fear are all parts of an unforgiving spirit. These things have a paralyzing effect in our lives. They cause heart attacks, high blood pressure, cancers, etc. The pain from unforgiving spirit can trigger muscle imbalance and all kinds of diseases in our bodies.
A story is told of someone who was intensely hurt by his best friend who slept with his wife. He couldn’t forgive his friend. He grew so bitter and bitter over the problem. His bitterness developed into rage and mental obsession. He plotted to kill his friend. First, he moved far away from his friend so he would be eliminated as a suspect when the deed was done. But unfortunately, his anger has taken over his life. He could not concentrate. He lost his appetite and zeal for life; he lost his job and ended up in the hospital dying with heart problem and high blood pressure. Because he did not want to die without reconciling with his friend, he asked the doctor to call his best friend. As the best friend stood beside his dying bed, he feebly grabbed his hand and confessed his bitterness, anger and his failure to forgive him. He closed his eyes and lapsed into a long coma. He was unconscious for a whole 6 months. One morning, he woke up and was completely healed from his pains.
How rapidly our torn homes will heal! How rapidly our social lives will heal! Above all, how quickly our pains will diminish or disappear should we lean to forgive those who hurt us. Sometimes, people deeply hurt us and I know that, but through the grace of God, we can learn to forgive. It liberates us to embrace the future and live in the present, not in the past: so many of us live in the past. We are wrapped in the past. Like a spider in her cobweb, we are shrouded in the past and we have no illumination but darkness. So our bodies become riddled with pain that comes from bitterness. We lose our inner vision and insight; we become hopeless. We see only our problems; the people who hurt us. That can cause a lot of pain. Also, don’t be angry over what you cannot control: death in the family, loss of jobs in this economic hard times or whatever causes bitterness or anger. When you do, you will relax even in pain.
Thirdly, give up bad habits or life style – lying, cheating, stealing, smoking, drinking, envy, etc. Think positively. Meditate and think godly thoughts. You say Uche, I can’t stop these things; I have tried several times. You can do anything you set your heart to do by the grace and power of God. First, when you live a bad life style, your conscience is disturbed. That causes a lot of restlessness and fear. You can never relax when your conscience is bothering you .because you have done something wrong. That can cause grievous pain. You can accomplish what you want through a wrong life style, but you may not live to enjoy your achievements. There is no torment greater than a guilty conscience.
When Macbeth and Lady Macbeth conspired and murdered King Duncan of Scotland, their lives shattered. They could not sleep anymore. Listen to what Macbeth said after the murder::
Macbeth does murder sleep
Glamis hath murdered sleep
And therefore Cawdor shall sleep no more
Macbeth shall sleep no more
Macbeth – Shakespeare
Then Lady Macbeth was so disturbed in her sleep and revealed the murder she and her husband Macbeth committed.
Here is the smell of the blood still
And the perfume of Arabia will not
Sweeten this hand
Oh! Oh! Oh!
Macbeth – Shakespeare
Finally, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth were destroyed by their wrong style of living. Fear, guilt, and secret sin crowded their lives- something that can eat you up and give you tumors and cancers. Give up wrong life style. It causes a lot of pain and you can relax even in pain.
Fourthly, learn to exercise. Again, let your mind regulate your body. It means let your mind tell the body what to do, not the body telling the mind what to do. Take control of your life by the help of God. I found out that when ever I am in deep pain, if I exercise, the pain stops. There is something unique about the human body. Like a car, it needs tune up or it breaks down. For example, when the human intellect is not exercised, it lies dormant until awakened: so is the human body. You must exercise it to keep it functioning properly, especially, when aging creeps in. You say “Uche, you don’t understand, I am hurting terribly.” You must exercise. “Uche,
I am constantly in pain.” You must exercise. Let your caregiver help you straighten a little bit or move you slightly. That makes a lot of difference. There are numerous stories of people paralyzed and doctors concluded they will never walk again. Some were constantly in pain and tending to paralysis. But they exerted their minds over their bodies; and won the battle over paralysis: and walked by the grace of God. There is something unique and special about the human mind. It is not just matter as philosophers have told us for centuries. The human mind is made in the image and Spirit of God. It has been created to exert power over the body, but many don’t exercise it. More importantly, when spiritually awakened by the knowledge of Jesus Christ, then the human spirit or mind can rise in complete control over what happens in the body through the grace of God.
Wounded, shot, kidnapped and suffering from paralysis and chronic pain, Leslie Meyers, age 31, determined she was going to walk again. She exercised aggressively with her Occupational Therapist. She sums up her problems in these words:
I look up to the future, not to the past
And it could have been worst
I could have been dead
When asked how to get a long without the use of her legs, and how to deal with chronic pain:
You have to ignore it
To learn to live with it
The Oregonian Staff / Writer
The exercise she aggressively does gives her relieve from pain as she lets her mind or spirit control her body. She was already making an effort to go back to work and train her mule. You can relax even in pain. Just exert your mind over your body. The mind regulates and controls the body.
Fifthly, take long breaths and live in clean and well ventilated homes. Let there be fresh air in your home. Let your caregiver take you out if you cannot go to the beaches. Take long deep breaths when you have pain. Hold your breath as long as you can, so you can let in more air into your lung. It also holds the pain off or releaves the pain. Practice this again and again. Let your mind control your body. Again, you can do all things with the grace of God.
W. H. Davies, an English poet says this: “What is this life, if full of care. We have no time to stand and stare.” Get out of your pain and stare: stare at nature; stare at the tranquility of the ocean; stare at the flowers and trees; stare at the little children; stare at anything that interests and amuses you. Get out and get some fresh air. Don’t coupe up in your chair or at home watching TV all day long focusing on your pain. Get out and get some fresh air. You will be amazed the magical effect it has on the mind and body, just some fresh air. It relaxes your muscle as you stare with gladness and joy in your heart. As you breathe in fresh air into your mind and body, you will relax even in pain.
Lastly, eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. Drink lots of fluids, for they flush your system and help the food digest easily. Any food that reacts negatively to your body, don’t eat it even if you like it. It can cause a lot of pain, stomach pains, and headaches. Some food can hurt you so much. I found out that each time I take white sugar, I immediately have a strong negative reaction to my teeth. So I don’t take white sugar because it causes pain in my body. I take brown sugar or raw sugar. Eat what you like so you can relax even in pain. Food gives us a kind of pleasure that is delightful. When I eat Fugi apples or raw cashew nuts, it gives me deep joy. Don’t eat too much, or ostensibly. Eat simply and don’t consume too much food or alcohol or too much wine. Eat moderately. Eat lots of fruit, fruit, fruit. Fruit contains all kinds of nurturing - natural inbuilt nourishment like minerals and vitamins vital and crucial for the body. All the vitamins and minerals are found in fruit and vegetables. Eat fruit voraciously.
As you grow older, you can look at yourself and feel uncomfortable because you have added so much weight. You have never looked ugly before. That can cause a lot anxiety and pain. Worry can cause a lot of diseases and pain. Eat selectively as you grow older. This calls for great discipline. Jane Hobbs was a beautiful woman whose waistline remained tiny even in her 40’s. But one day, she looked at herself in the mirror and was shocked by what she saw. Her stomach was bulging and she gazed at the mirror in disbelief. She did not succumb to depression. She quickly changed her diet and began to exercise. That is what you might want to do to maintain your health and beauty as you age. The radical change that takes place in old age can cause a lot of pain, fear, and anxiety. “The National Geographic on Aging, November, 1997 says this on aging:
Vision decline as the lenses thicken
the ears lose their ability to hear higher tones pitch and low pitches too
Senses of taste and smell grow dull
skin becomes thinner and begins to sag as the underlying scaffolding of structural proteins become brittle and collapses
muscles waste away and fat accumulates as specially around the abdomen
bones become riddled with cavities and prone to breaking, while joints where out
the heart grows weak and can’t pump as efficient as it once did
And virtually, every other organ goes into a gradual tailspin, specially the kidney and lungs which for some reason wears out quickly
The change that comes in aging can cause a lot of pain and anguish, but if you change your diet and exercise; and remember your body can’t function anymore like when you were younger, then you can avoid the pain that comes from aging. You must also accept aging and don’t fight it. When you do these things, you will relax even in pain.
I have struggled extraordinarily with pain in my life: cancer pains; laid aside because I fell down; mental and emotional pain caused by the death of loved ones; back and neck pains. But I have learned to analyze my pain; I have learned to let my mind control my body in times of pain; I have learned to forgive those who hurt me; I have learned to live well; take exercises , breathe well, take long walks; I have learned to eat well. I have achieved these things with the grace and power of God only.
Are you struggling with pain - acute or chronic pain? Don’t let pain destroy your life. I know the way you feel. This was the way I defeated pain and learned to relax even in pain. God will enable you to find the same freedom by the grace of God. Here is a poem on pain that can encourage your heart written by the writer.
The best moments of our lives are mingled with pain
A fact if accepted diminishes the pain we bear
For pain is inextricable to human consciousness
And will be over at finality of death
There is someone who sustains us in times of pain
That person is our heavenly father
The Lord Jesus Christ
Rev. Uche Ikpa
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