Nancy Bardacke, a US based midwife,who applies mindfulness to childbirth and parenting, puts forward the idea that not all pain is bad. That certainly the pain associated with childbirth is different in the sense that it is not signalling that something is wrong or that we are injured or ill.
Bardacke posits that we need a new category for the pain (both emotional and physical) associated with simply being human. We will all eventually experience ageing and death, and mostly this involves physical discomfort and pain. And even completely natural processes like childbirth often involve intense sensations.
Which begs the question: can pain be transformative? Is there a way of relating to our pain that doesn't involve our habitual turning away from, rejecting or bracing ourselves against.
It's natural and normal to dislike painful physical sensations and emotions. But if there's one surety in life, it's that pain will arise, bidden or not. We certainly don't need to seek it out. But once it's here, is there a way to work wisely with it and perhaps open to what it may have to teach us?
The ability to work wisely with our pain and suffering is something that would serve us all, and a skill that can be cultivated. And in viewing pain as a natural and normal part of being human, we can recognise the universality of these experiences. And if there's one thing that makes pain a little more bearable, it's the knowledge that we're not alone.
What have been your experiences of working with both physical and emotional pain? Has there ever been a time in your life, when you've been able to use pain as a source of transformation? And how did you do this?