7 (Unexpected) Places Where Our Pain Hides
The author of Devotion: A Memoir explains where to find those private, personal aches.
1. In Our Bones (Literally)
Once, at the end of a yoga class, I was resting in the final relaxation pose when a guy doing a headstand fell over and his feet hit me in the chest. I wasn't physically hurt. So, no big deal, right? But I couldn't stop crying. A hidden sorrow had been touched. Pain lurks within all of our bodies. The yogis call this samskara, which loosely translates to scar tissue. When we really tune into our bodies, when we stretch and soften and pay full attention to them, we can sense where this pain is hiding: our hearts, hips, jaws, lower backs, bellies. Wherever it is, it does us good to seek it out. To know it. After all, our pain is a part of who we authentically are.
2. In That Roll-Down-the-Window Song
Sometimes, I'm driving along in my car and a song from my high-school years comes on the radio: Springsteen's "Thunder Road." Just the opening few chords make me want to roll down the window and let the wind blow back my hair. It makes me able to touch my 16-year-old self, and with that collapsing of time also comes an exquisite feeling—piercing, bittersweet. I want to reach back to that girl and give her a hug. She was so clueless. She was in for a world of heartache. I am powerless to change the sorrows she went through; but still, my midlife self wants to fix her. To make it better. In that gulf between who I was then, and who I became, there is a deep and mature ache. "You have to go through all this," I want to tell her. "So that you can grow up and live a life full of wonder." All of those feelings ride the crest of Springsteen's lyrics.
3. On the Blank Page
When I sit down with my notebook, when I start scribbling words across the page, I find out what I'm feeling. What are the patterns of my obsessions? What do I want? I honestly don't know until I start writing and something starts to take shape. Sentence follows into sentence like a trail of bread crumbs through the forest. I look back at what I've written. Oh, I think to myself. So that's what's happening. That's what's wrong.
Next: When you feel you're most vulnerable