Lovingly turn toward our pain

By Dave Henning / November 13, 2020

“When we can lovingly turn toward our pain, expressed in various ways by our bodies, we often begin to find we have choices we couldn’t see before.”- Aundi Kolber

“Our bodies are prophets.  They know when things are out of whack and they say so.”- Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar to the World

In Chapter 2 (“Mind Your Brain”) of Try Softer, Aundi Kolber observes that your life tells a story.  Furthermore, God created your body to give you valuable information as you experience those stories.

As a result, one of the key elements Aundi tracks in working with her clients involves their autonomic nervous systems (ANS).  In addition, the ANS consists of two parts – the sympathetic and parasympathetic.  The sympathetic drives our fight/flight response.  However, it also drives a lesser-known but equally significant reaction — the fawn response.  In the fawn response, rather than acknowledging our discomfort, our bodies try to neutralize prolonged danger via pleasing or accommodating others.

Also, in fight/flight/fawn, our bodily response corresponds with the level of arousal to the perceived threat.  And, we may behave in a manner completely contrary to our ‘normal’ selves to deal with real or perceived dangers.  Conversely, the parasympathetic nervous system comes into play when we’re in a relaxed state.  Hence, it’s often referred to as ‘rest and digest.’  Yet, another function of this system shifts the body into a freeze state.  This happens when a person perceives danger and sees no escape.  In addition, the freeze response occurs on a continuum from mild fogginess (not feeling present) to fainting or physical collapse.  Hence, disassociation represents another name for this response.

In conclusion, Aundi offers these words of hope:

“When we learn the way our environments and relationships shape the stories we hold in our bodies — and that we can find more nurturing, effective ways to care for ourselves as we move through difficulties — it becomes easier to be gentle with pain when it shows up.”

Today’s question: What Bible verses help us to lovingly turn toward our pain?  Please share.

Coming Monday: the November Short Meditation, “A lily dancing with the wind”

Tomorrow’s blog: “A significant part of learning to try softer”

About the author

Dave Henning

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