Embracing the darkness and experiencing pain

As we reach the start of winter, and the days are at their shortest, this year I’m thinking a lot about darkness. Both the rhythms of light and dark (and thankfully how the bright sunshine reflecting on snow makes things feel even more alive), and the rhythms of pain and suffering transforming into joy.

In our society, pain and darkness are things that we avoid. Rather than feel our suffering, go in to ourselves, excavate in to the darkness, we numb or cover up our problems. This time of year is more alcohol, more sweets, more busy-ness, more retail therapy, and lights everywhere – at home, at the mall, even the local coffee shops are merry and bright.

If we took time and listened to our bodies (which is even harder than usual this time of year), they would likely ask us to do less. For rest, for cuddling, for reading and journaling, for meditation.

The experience of pain is not popular, and even something that we fear. Whether a physical pain that we try to cover up with ice, heat, pain killers, movement, etc., or an emotional pain that we avoid feeling, chances are that our bodies and our souls may be trying to tell us something.

The gift that pain (physical or emotional) can bring, is a chance to interrupt us enough to assess our lives. If we allow ourselves to feel our pain, it may allow us to come closer to understanding the source of it. Feeling and owning our pain deeply and completely may also allow us to move to the next stage and make the changes necessary for resolution, whether that looks like something like starting chiropractic care, attempting to repair a wounded relationship, taking up yoga or exercise, or making a change in our eating habits. Likewise, the gift that darkness can bring is a chance to look inward, to quiet our bodies and minds, and to rest.

I wish you peace and joy this holiday season. And for those dealing with deep pain in need of more help, I would love to connect you with some resources.
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    Dr. Sheena grew up in the western suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota and completed her undergraduate studies in Architecture, Chemistry, and Sustainability at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus.