Day 37/365 - On pain

Day 37
2/6/17

Continuing yesterday’s theme of overcoming challenges, I want to focus on pain today. Pain is actually a protective signal your body gives you to set off an alarm. When there is the slightest hint of danger to your physical body, it is designed to automatically sense it and transmit the signal (via nociceptors) to your higher functioning (brain) so that it can send out a downstream of corresponding signals to get your body out of the situation. For example, if you burn your hand on a flame or boiling hot water, your nociceptors pick up the alarm and your brain acts on your motor functioning neurons to get your muscles to move that hand away from the source of pain.

The body also works in a negative feedback loop in a lot of the organ systems, so that when the source of the pain is out of the picture, the pain gradually lessens. In the meantime, some pain signals may still be transmitted during the healing time of damaged tissue from the physical insult. This is the body’s greatest tool for self defense, since it wants to protect the injured area from getting any more hurt in the acute form.

However, this process is often disrupted in our modern-day preference to shut any sign of pain out almost as immediately as its onset. Not only is our tolerance for pain incredibly low as a result, but we also lose touch with our mind and body. Pain killers disengage our nociceptors from transmitting pain signals to the brain, and leaves us open for further insult on top of our primary injury. If we don't allow time for rest and recovery, the healing process is halted and can lead to a cycle of chronic pain if the nerves in the area suffer damage. 

But we don’t have time or patience to worry about any of the repercussions. Our lifestyle demands fast results, and immediate pain control, so that we can continue moving just as swiftly through our important day-to-day activities, without losing productivity or salary. It is not our fault, per se; it’s what our culture demands of us. After working to the bone in our ‘productive’ years, a lot of us will become dependent on a flawed healthcare system to help us with our [emotional and physical] pain, chronic illness, and disability - all with the money of honest taxpayers of the next generation. And so the cycle continues.

It’s time to take responsibility into our own capable hands, and break the flawed cycle. We can educate and empower ourselves, on our bodies and minds. We can improve our individual and collective self-care by non-invasive, simple, traditional means. Rest when we are tired, sleep when we are sick, nourish ourselves with food harvested with love and care. We can do it - together!