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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Where does the pain go (when you know it is still there)?

Sometimes when I wake the eye is hurting already, the lid swollen, sore and on the verge of pain. Other times it is okay until I start to read or use the computer. Either way I have a choice, or so it seems. Read more, write more, do almost anything that requires the eye to move.

I am bored, I want to write a post or answer email, I want to check and see if you have been here, maybe even sending me a comment.

I do whatever the choice is. The discomfort is there, on the periphery. "Just a few more minutes" I say to myself or outloud. "Just a little bit more."

I go on, the pain builds. Just another paragraph, just one more email, just one more sentence. Then I promise myself I will stop.

Instead I persevere. The pain is there but as my interest builds in what I am doing it ebbs and flows, in my consciousness, outside of my attention, in and out it goes.

It is a strange thing. Sometimes I feel the pain but as I become more and more immersed in what I am doing I become unaware of it. Finally I finish what I am doing. The pain is overwhelming, to the point of nausea.

How is it that the knowledge of it got away from me, that the feeling was bandaged by a high level of concentration? How is it that it is really there, that the stopping of what I am doing acts as the fast ripping off of an adhesive covering? How is it that I am now in exquisite pain, pain that seemed not to be there not more than a second or two ago? (And what an oxymoron - exqusite and pain together.)

It is said you do not remember pain. Women who have children tell me it is a lie that you forget the pain of childbirth.

I no longer have the horrendous face splitting, knife cutting pain that is the 'tic' of trigeminal neuralgia. I could remember it but the idea of even trying to induces a panic in me. No. No. my mind screams at me. Don't you dare go there! I obey, knowing that remembering is the last thing I want to do. Why invite in a pain that is gone, even if the invitation is only to memory? I do not want to go there. I do not need to go there.

But the opposite seems to be the case when it comes to, I cannot say not feeling the pain, but maybe not acknowledging it. The mind lets you be free for a while as you do what you normally cannot. Reading too long, talking to a few people at once and watching them with only the movement of your eyes, writing a blog post. The pain is there, and growing, whether I am aware of it or not. Maybe the unconscious protects me from it as the conscious mind proceeds, at least for longer than is good for me, to let me do what I want.

Maybe it is like hypnosis.

I am a hypnotherapist. When I work with clients I describe hypnosis as being a state where your relaxation level allows the conscious mind to step aside while I talk to your unconscious mind. Usually trance state takes you to level of inattention, like when you do not know how you got from point A to point B while you are driving and then you suddenly became aware. Your conscious mind has decided it is time to become attentive or it sees the redlight or stop sign.

Maybe the pain is the red light. Maybe at some point the pain becomes so in need of attention that it can no longer stay hidden in the background.

I do not know, of course. One of the biggest issues for me, in dealing with the pain, heck, in dealing with life, is finding explanations, or coming up with a theory, any theory that might explain how, why?

For tonight this one will have to do.


  1. Jackie writes:

    Interesting question, with many aspects -- biological, philosophical, meditative, e.g. -- to consider.

    It made me think of a scenario with hearing: You're having a discussion with someone in a public place and they excuse themselves to go to the restroom. It's only when they're gone that you notice the sounds of things going on around you -- perhaps other people talking, music playing, birds chirping. Then the person returns, you resume the discussion and the background noises fade again.

    Or the noises are still there, but your perception of them has changed. I think this is similar to what happens with hypnosis and mindfulness?

    Back when I was younger and knew everything, I used to think the old question "If a tree falls in the forest and there is nobody there to hear it, does it make a sound?" was just stupid. Now, I think "hmm, interesting"!

  2. Jackie, what a great analogy. I think it is, I do not know enough about mindfulness but in hypnosis it is very focused concentration (the instruction is you do not even need to hear my voice, in fact the sound of my voice ( and any other sounds you might hear (so if someone drops something or a truck backfires, it is a good thing)takes you even deeper into relaxation.)
    lol. Ah to be young again and not see all of the gazillion possibilities of philosophy.