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  • Writer's pictureNicole Gaillard

I stayed with the pain and this is what happened

Do you trust your body?

Understand all its sensations? And can you navigate them?

Yesterday I was cleaning out the dishwasher, in an effort to be efficient,

I swung the forks into the drawer and gave it a push to close.

My middle finger, however, was stuck between the drawer and the countertop.

And the slap of the drawer came right on the phalanx.

And that hurt a lot!


Staying with the pain

I took all the time for what had happened

and made sure my attention was with the sensations in my body,

until it was done.


Because feelings want to be felt.

Pain and discomfort is something we like to avoid. We easily distract ourselves from it, because we are too busy, have more important things to do, and maybe

we don't even want to feel all of the pain.

Self-healing ability

From a mindfulness perspective we know that if we stay present, with self-compassion, during pain and discomfort, in many cases something magical happens.

It activates our self-healing ability.

How cool is that!

Nervous system

This past year I have learned more about our nervous system.

I am still discovering it and I find it interesting how when in pain and shock,

the body needs to fully release all stress and anxiety.

So that it doesn't store up in our body.

In the form of tension, stiffness or cramping, for example.

That means giving our body the chance to physically finish the fight and flight response.

By fully feeling all the sensations and muscle tension, until it's done.

Ever done it consciously? I haven't until now.

Since there was no wound that needed immediate care, I stayed with the pain in my finger.

This is what happened:

After the hit

After the hit there was intense pain in my finger and I felt an immediate wave of agitation coursing through my body. The adrenaline rush was released and

my body wanted to walk fast.

Carefully shielding the painful finger, I walked up and down my living room with a sense of urgency. As I walked, I noticed that my body actually wanted to run away,

preferably through the front door onto the street.

The flight response of my nervous system.

The cats joined me in surprise, but I couldn't bear them around me.

"Not now!" I wanted to yell, but I couldn't even do that and I walked on.

They distanced themselves, but kept a close eye on me.

It struck me that at that moment I could not make connection, the pain and agitation were too great. That is part of the initial shock as I understand it, the sympathetic nervous system is activated, but it seems that para sympathetic nervous system could not

yet participate (the one that takes care of connection),

After a few minutes, the fast walking became slower.

I felt the need to cool my finger, which was hot and throbbing by now.

I needed water.

At the sink, I carefully held my finger under the faucet.

But I could not take much. A bit too cold was painful and a bit too warm was awful.

So I tuned the faucet so that it was flowing gently and the water was lukewarm.

And as I stood there leaning against the countertop, I felt the muscles in my face contract and cramp. Also I felt the need to kick energy out of my legs.

Stress release

I consciously made all the movements my body wanted to make.

Let my face make crazy painful twitches and I kicked with my legs

to let the tension go.

When that was done, the tears came.

Another form of releasing tension.

My body bent over and the crying began.

With that the first conscious thoughts and emotions came too.

Which were not very helpful by the way.

- "How stupid is this, how did I manage to do this!

- I don't really have time for this right now!

- I better just get on with cleaning up so I can get on with it!

- Oh this hurts so much..."

I let the tears flow, I noticed the thoughts and emotions and left

them for what they were. Without pushing them away or dwelling on them.

Most of all, I kept bringing my attention back to the pain in my finger

and the changing physical sensations.

After a while, the tears stopped and I felt the need to move.

I walked through the living room again, this time at a calm pace.

Holding my finger lovingly in the other hand.

I was rocking myself and I started soothing my finger 😅.

I also looked at the cats, told them that I was okay,

The ability to connect was back.

As I understand it, that is the para-sympathetic nervous system (ventral vagus) that is participating again. The part of our nervous system that takes care of rest, recovery

and relaxation, in addition to connection.

After some walking back and forth and soothing myself,

it was done.

The shock and stress were out of my body.

And the worst pain had subsided.

In hindsight

When I was in it, this seemed to last long.

In retrospect, I think it was about 10 minutes.

The experience of giving my body all the space it needed until it was done, touched me.

And I am sharing it with you so that if you or someone around you is ever overwhelmed by shock or pain, you might be able to stay present with the body's process

just a little bit longer.

Deep trust

Also for our children it is so good when they fall or bump themselves,

that they learn to be okay with the pain and stay with it.

It brings a deeper connection and understanding of our bodies.

Which increases our feeling of safety.

And deepens the feeling of confidence in our body.

Something we can all use, right?

Much love for now.

PS: I am learning a lot about our nervoussystem from the work of Peter Levine (Pionier in somatic experiencing) and Irene Lyon (Nervous system expert & Master somatic practitioner). Very interesting, I can recommand taking time for this. Like watching this educational vlog from Irene on: How to build nervous system capacity.

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