At a recent workshop, a few students shared their first-hand experiences with pain. Since the topic was moving with ease, you’d think is was relevant and helpful, right?


Don’t misunderstand me – I’m a huge advocate of connecting with your body, learning from pain, and honoring the healing being requested by it.

I love when students can relate to class and draw on their own knowledge and wisdom in their practice.

But your pain stories can trap you. They can become you.

When you identify so deeply with one aspect of your experience, it can become a defining characteristic of the personality you choose.

You become “Injured Me”, “Pained Me”, or “Weak Me”.

You cut off the potential of who you really are.

Pain stories are seductive.

They keep you safe. They separate you from others; give you definition and boundaries.

I know I am me because I feel this thing you do not. Because of that, I can’t go, I can’t participate, I can’t be normal. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.

It doesn’t matter if it’s physical or emotional, pain can be the ultimate trump card – the only reason you ever need for why you didn’t try, didn’t succeed, and didn’t become who you know you’re meant to be. You can’t! You’re in pain!

If this sounds harsh, think about it for a second. Have you ever cancelled plans after convincing yourself that your “cold” is much worse than it really is just so you can stay home? I know I have.

It’s easy to settle on a vision of yourself and then adjust your reality to fit.

Donna Farhi asked students in her 2011 yoga training course, “Where is your allegiance?”

These four words changed my life.

I’d created a whole world around stories of “I can’t”, “I don’t know how” and “I hurt”. My allegiance was to holding myself back, to being not ready, to staying safe.

This allegiance carried off the mat and into my life. My mind ran a constant stream of don’ts – don’t stay out too late, don’t laugh too loudly, don’t trust too much. Stay safe; stay small; stay quiet.

Despite my protective efforts on and off the mat, I got hurt.

Now after years of recovering, I’m learning to allow a new identity to unfold – “Weak, Injured Me” is slowly being replaced by “Strong, Capable Me”.

Pain was my opportunity to transform. When I failed to respond to subtler invitations, my mind and body resorted to pain to get my attention and get me back on the path to my highest self.

In my search stop the hurting; I re-discovered my calling, my purpose, and my joy. It turns out pain was looking out for me.

So listen to pain’s messages, acknowledge the healing it desires, and then move where it leads you.

Remember: hurt is your guide, not your excuse.




Your Turn

What is the vision you hold in your mind that you’re fulfilling whether you realize it or not? Does this vision express, allow, and support who you really are?