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Pain to Pleasure

I woke up yesterday morning to an unfamiliar feeling. It can actually only really be described as the lack of a feeling. I woke up, probably for the first time in my life, without pain.

For those with chronic pain, you’re all too familiar with pain being the normal baseline. There are days where the pain is worse, but it’s always there. Our brains learn to just ignore it and go on with the day.

My chronic hip pain had become so engrained in my brain that I honestly forgot it was there in my day to day. I knew when I had flare ups of pain from overuse or strain, but in general, I’ve just considered the pain my “normal” and how I feel on a good day.

Yesterday, I woke up to a complete dearth of pain. I sat on the edge of my bed pondering what it was that I was feeling. What is the feeling of an absence of pain? I settled on labeling it as “physical joy.” My body feels happy for the first time in my life.

Being the word nerd that I am, I was curious to see what the antonym of pain was. The thesaurus suggests “pleasure” or “easefulness.” “Harmony” and “tranquility” are other suggestions. All seem to fit how I feel in my body. But the word "pleasure" seemed to spark something in me, as it was my chosen 2023 word of the year -- a word that I do not feel that I have been living in alignment with, despite my best efforts. 2023 has been quite a year of pain, in fact. But here on the other side of pain, I've found pleasure.

My practice has paralleled this newfound internal joy. Asanas that had me stuck and felt impossible are just happening now, flowing with my breath like water down a river. I hardly even pause when it comes time to throw my legs into lotus or drop back into urdhva danurasana.

Back in August, I decided to dedicate my entire magical manifestation energy to solving the mystery of my hips. I set the intention that I would not manifest anything else until I could feel open and safe in my hips. It felt far fetched. My hips have not only been a source of pain, but also a source of frustration. They’ve been a place where my practice seems to hit a wall. I used to say that they were made out of fiery concrete— immovable yet burning when doing the work of outward rotation.

Over the last month and a half, many miracles have happened. I found some internal insight about my hip anatomy that came to me in a dream. I began working on my hip based off that knowledge. A few days later, I met Jeelna ( @physiocore_fitness ) and my knowledge of what was going on was deepened. I started committing myself to small exercises to strengthen and improve my hips. And to my surprise, I saw tangible results in the first 10 days.

It’s been about a month now and I can say I have experienced nothing short of a miracle. To wake up free of pain is a gift that I can only thank the universe for providing me the tools to achieve.

The shift this has given me in my life is also remarkable. This isn’t just about lotus pose or Garbha Pindasana. Walking does not feel like a painful chore anymore; I had never realized how hard I had to work to walk before all of this, but now I am amazed at the ease in which I can pick up my legs with my newly strengthened hip flexors. Sitting also feels… dare I say, comfortable? I used to feel I was forced to choose between standing and laying as sitting was such an uncomfortable position for me for longer than 5 or so minutes. But now, I can sit comfortably for extended periods with no issues.

I have never witnessed such a tangible change in anything in my life. I’m so grateful for this journey and the future of continued improvement that I’m sure is coming. Being pain free is such a gift. A pleasure.

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