Lately I’ve been living in an intimate relationship with pain, sometimes a lot of it. Due to surgery, I have drifted through a number of days in a fog caused by medications — even though the fog truly did not negate the awareness of pain. In the hospital, a cryo-unit alternately set my body to freezing and burning. Very kind aides forced me to push through the static pain into mobile pain. Physical therapists joked and nurses prodded me onward. As medical professionals asked me to rank my pain, often on a minute-by-minute basis, I’ve become aware of my body’s moments of relief. I’ve learned to balance my movements with the resulting pain and to compare how I feel at the current moment to  how I felt yesterday (or an hour ago).

This experience has led to some odd reflections on the nature of pain and its uses — assuming that pain is useful in ways other than as an automatic biological reaction.  I can  understand why people choose a painful experience because it is the means to reach a specific goal, but I don’t understand why some people search out the experience of pain for its own sake. Over the years, I’ve had this conversation with many others; I’ve asked  a lot of questions, but I’m still confused.

Recently during one of those conversations, a dear friend pointed out that “shamans go through ordeals too.” I replied something like “I didn’t really ask for pain during those initiations.”  My response might have been naïve, but it highlights the difference: I did not view pain as necessary to learning. I still don’t. I don’t see pain as a requirement for a religious experience. It might have been a side affect of a shamanic experience, but it was not the goal for me. Nor do I find pain sexy. I don’t even see it as particularly noble. Perhaps this opinion is a function of age (mine, I mean). Maybe I’m just not searching so hard for that hard-to-define something or perhaps I’ve missed something.

You, my dear reader, won’t find any answers in today’s post. Thank you for reading my ramblings. I would like to ask you what you think. What is your opinion? Do you see validity in purposefully seeking pain? If so, why? Does pain teach you? How? Is it like the Three Days Grace song: “… I’d rather feel pain than nothing at all?” Truly, I would like to know your viewpoint.


About Lillith ThreeFeathers

Lillith ThreeFeathers is a shamanic healer, author, medium, and priestess.
This entry was posted in General Musings, Medicine & Health, Shamanic Posts, Spirituality & Religion and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Pain

  1. Smoky Zeidel says:

    Lillith, I’m sure you’re aware I’m a chronic pain sufferer, as I’ve written a lot about it. And I didn’t ask for it, either. But good can indeed come from pain. Hopefully, your pain will not turn chronic, and you won’t have to learn how to find the good in the pain. If this isn’t the case, though, let me know if you want suggestions for getting through it. Yes, shamans can and do have pain! But we can learn to use it to our advantage and to benefit others.


  2. Hello Smoky, nice to hear from you. The pain has been improving, but it hasn’t been long enough since the surgeries to know if it will become chronic. I decided to go forward with the surgeries because of the chronic pain and mobility impacted my life. Perhaps the universe still has something to teach me in that area (although I would prefer it doesn’t). I welcome your suggestions. Thanks for the support!


  3. Staci Stahler says:

    Living in constant pain from a twinge to all out fetal positon crying was not a learning experience that I relished. Now that I have been pain free (mainly) for three years, I see that I appreciate the simple beauty of life.


    • Stacy, “Appreciate the simple beauty of life” says it all, doesn’t it? Pain management or pain solutions — whatever works to reduce the pain to get to that state. I’m glad to hear that you are doing so well.

      That’s why I don’t understand people who plan painful experiences [whether they are planned as spiritual ordeals or sexual actions]. I’d like to understand those people a bit better.


  4. Kelley says:

    I remain convinced that pain is not a prerequisite to enlightenment, as the romantic mythology of shamanism teaches. Is it coincidence that I live with high levels of pain and I work as a shaman? No idea. If it was a requisite that we all have to experience pain in order to realize ourselves, long, unrelenting pain, that would be the opposite of healing, to me.
    I wish you relief.


    • Hi Kelley. I remember the indigenous shamans who taught me: they seemed to have endless energy and vitality even when they “retired” from traveling. I do wonder if the pain of healers is a cultural problem. Or were they better at dealing with it? Thanks for your comments!


  5. Smoky Zeidel says:

    Lillith, I just sent you a long note via Facebook message with some ideas. I hope something helps.


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