I kept on considering it: this yogic idea that pain is simply sensation. Frankly, it baffled me. It seemed completely beyond me. Annoying nigglings as sensation? Gotcha. Discomfort as sensation? No problemo. But pain as simply sensation–to be eased out of without it actually going away? Not so much.
Until just the other day, in a classic example of yoga off the mat–my favourite kind. I was hiking this crate of stuff to my car. It was crammed full of books, laundry, food, dish detergent—yup, pretty much everything but the kitchen sink. It was heavy. My car was blocks away. The corner was digging into my side, and in about 2.3 seconds it went from “Oh, that’s kinda uncomfortable” to “If anyone even thinks about stopping me to say ‘hi’ before I can drop this thing I’m going use it to plow them over.” I really didn’t have any other way to carry it. I just had to deal with the pain.
And there it was. The voice of Alex Rodrigues, a Vancouver yogini I’d taken a workshop with recently. “Pain is sensation.” Full disclosure: my first reaction was “Oh, screw off.” But then it occurred to me that I had a couple choices: be in pain, or try to transform my understanding of it to sensation, and maybe have an easier next 10 blocks. So I did. I told myself that “This pain is simply sensation, and there’s often not really much difference between it and pleasure. It’s all about perspective.”
No joke, no kidding, the friggin’ pain went away. It was simply sensation. I could feel something going on in my side, but it didn’t hurt anymore.
Will it always be that simple? Probably not. But I’m so grateful, that in this small way, I began to learn this big lesson.