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Leaving Pain in the Past

June 25, 2013

By Jacinta Hin

“The first thing we want to do is change our language” responded the Maori healer to my explanation of what was wrong with me. “We want to leave your pain in the past, where it belongs. So we must talk about it in the past tense.”

Pain had been my constant companion for months. The idea of leaving it in the past was a welcome one.

Apparently the healer’s message was lost on the person next to me. He was still very much in the present with his pain, screaming for the entire hour our sessions lasted. I, on the contrary, now knew that any pain I was about to feel was just a memory. I felt a little proud to be the “advanced” patient in the room and bore my session in solemn silence.

When something in our system is out of balance, it can take a while before we know what is wrong. I woke up one day with a stiff left arm. A few days later I could hardly move it. Then the pain started. And I just lived with it for weeks, believing my arm’s lack of motion was caused by a sore muscle that would soon heal.

But the pain only got worse, keeping me awake at night and exhausted throughout the day.

Eventually, I found my way to help and learned that I had a frozen shoulder of the worst kind, one that was in danger of becoming a chronic condition, courtesy of my stubborn refusal to seek out medical aid sooner than I did.

A frozen shoulder is a painful and disabling disorder in which the shoulder capsule becomes inflamed and stiff, greatly restricting motion and causing constant pain all the way through the arm. The pain can last for months as it did in my case. Full recovery can take up to three years.

Living with pain and uncertainty is unsettling. Even when I knew what was wrong with me, I could not see beyond the pain. I felt vulnerable and lost, even desperate at times. The lack of sleep did not help: an exhausted body is hardly a vessel for an upbeat outlook.

Life had temporarily come to a halt. But once I eased into my months of limbo and started to accept my situation, I welcomed the interruption as a chance to slow down and get in touch with the total story behind my condition.

We flow in and out of balance all the time. In-between we have the opportunity to explore what is going on and make the changes needed to get back in balance. When drastic adjustments are required, our wholeness – body, soul and spirit – may conspire to get our attention. Issues around neglected emotional needs or key life questions could show up in physical illness. Physical imbalances, when undetected or ignored, can increase in intensity or spread to other parts of the body, prompting lifestyle changes.

The past few months have been tough and deeply challenging. I still have a long way to go, but the darkest days are behind me. The severe pain in my shoulder and arm is gone, and motion (albeit still limited) has improved. I know a little bit more about myself and am already making changes in the way I live.

We need these periods of rebalancing now and then, and mine was long due. Next time I only hope for a less painful lesson. Or perhaps I have the take the Maori healer’s words more to heart and realize that pain simply refers to what has already passed.


About the author: About the author: Jacinta Hin was born in the Netherlands and has been living in Tokyo, Japan, since 1989. Her professional background is in human resources, career management and coaching. She is passionate about helping people, herself included, discover new perspectives of possibility, move to embracing and working with their transitions, and designing and realizing changes aligned with who they truly are and what they truly want from their lives.
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