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The nuance of pain and redefining pain-free living

In our current culture, our time is spent avoiding pain. Pain "killers", meds, staying single - wink, wink - and avoiding those challenging conversations. Pretty much anything can be used to avoid pain. It's understandable, especially when we associate pain with "something is wrong." as in "I did something wrong, you did something wrong or there must be something wrong here if I'm in pain." Pain is much more nuanced, however.

There are times when pain is a warning, "Hey, if you keep doing that something will be wrong. Stop." It can be a whisper or a shout, especially if it wasn't heard the first time, or the second or the third. It's trying to get your attention.

Other times, when we start to feel more – perhaps a layer of numbness is thawed, or their defenses go down – pain suddenly shows up. I see this often in massage. New clients will come in and need heavy pressure in order to feel something. But with time and regular massages, the tissues soften and more blood flows, allowing more sensation and feeling. They end up wanting less and less pressure. This pain is something like "I've always been here. Feel me. Be with me." It's often old and has a message. Like a friend who just wants to chat and be heard over a cup of tea more than they want you to solve all their problems.

Most commonly, pain is a fear or a mental projection we brace against. The other week I saw a child running toward his mom, crying loudly holding his finger. It looked as if his fingernail was bent back. I cringed, and my stomach knotted. On closer inspection, a little bit of his skin had pulled away, and he was back playing with his friends in no time, without a thought of his finger. We think it, we fear it, and in those moments, there is a disconnect from what we are actually feeling in the present moment.

Pain as fear is often a sensation that quickly turns into a story. That story challenges our image of ourselves, and our mind exaggerates the actuality of the situation. A way to work with this kind of pain is to turn toward it with curiosity and notice what it feels like. This is how my dad Craig handled 40 years of dental work without Novocaine; he'd break it down into sensation. "That's sharp and cold, pointed, warm, etc." Note that I'm not saying to try this at home. It takes a special kind of will and conviction for that. Yet the fear and the story of having dental work was not attached to his experience, and hence, it allowed him to keep going year after year.

So why all this talk of pain? Well, because pain is not going away. We live in a world of sensation, of feeling, and throughout our lifetime we will continue to experience both pain and pleasure. Yes, there are pains that will lessen; some will go away and seeking a comfortable pain-free life is a worthy aspiration. It's what I have chosen to do for a living – help people reduce their pain and discomfort. Yet to avoid pain means we let it rule our lives by circumambulating it. To move towards pain, to be in relationship with it, opens up a whole new realm of possibility on our livelihoods. We become freer – our joy and spirits untethered by the ebbs and flows of pain and pleasure.

Laurel Lozzi practices bodywork at Transcendent Touch Healing Massage with her father Craig Lozzi, 407 Potter St., Suite D, in Fallbrook. In 2013, she graduated massage school, and since then she has been expanding her toolbox with various healing modalities, including coaching where she works out knots in the psyche with words and connection. Her sessions are intuitive and restorative, often touching into both pain and pleasure. She can be reached at (323) 356-5363 or through


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