A great deal of life is about decoding things.  We have an experience, get a message, but the meaning isn’t clear and we end up having to figure it out on our own.  Most lessons come either through pleasure (Yay! I like that) or pain (Owwww!!!!  Stop that!).  But pain has many different messages that it can be relaying hence we have terms such as stretchy pain, sharp pain, sudden pain, chronic pain, pain from strain etc.  Just because something is painful doesn’t mean the message is clear.  Many times we have to figure out what it means.

However, many times we don’t.  Most people go with the quick and dirty “pain means no” meaning of pain and leave it at that which leads to a lot of one and done behavior.  They try something once, they like it or they don’t and that’s when they make their decision on whether to continue doing it.  Something a bit difficult, leaves a bit of pain behind, is awkward or a struggle at first, well then “pain means no” so we’re done.  Walk away and do something else, right?

But what if pain doesn’t automatically mean no?  What if pain means that progress has been made?  What if pain means we haven’t gone as far as we need to go to get to the bliss on the other side?  This is something that comes up in yoga from time to time.  In order to get into a variety of poses the body passes through various stages of bending or straightening, weight-bearing or floating or hanging.  Sometimes on the way to the final pose there is a stage that is painful.  The knee doesn’t like that angle or the muscles don’t want to carry the weight, the ligaments or tendons don’t want to stretch or can’t yet and so there is pain. In these cases the pain doesn’t automatically mean “NO!” it can also mean “Don’t stop here keep going, please” or “Not yet. Back up a bit today and try again tomorrow” or “Not this way, try an alternate route.”

Not that there are any parallels between how our body works and the messaging of pain and life in general….oh wait!  Yes there are. 😉  Sometimes we give up too quickly, are frustrated too easily, or won’t accept any alternatives.  We go straight to “pain means no” and drop all the possibilities on the floor to be scooped up by someone else.  So when something is painful or difficult this week, don’t automatically judge it.  Take a bit of time to evaluate what that actually means, what’s being communicated to you.  It might be the key to everything.