An encounter with pain

I went to a dental appointment in the morning; it was a follow-up to treatment that had been done last week. By the time the anesthetic started wearing off, my jaw was throbbing. The nerve endings must have been hypersensitive the second time around. The pain was distracting and made me feel like a zombie. Coincidentally, I’ve been reading Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Full Catastrophe Living, which is about using meditation and yoga to face pain. Of course, Kabat-Zinn is talking about chronic pain from serious illness, not just pain resulting from a dental visit. But pain is still pain, in the last count.

I decided to see if my yoga practice could help me. At lunch, I went to an available meeting room at work and shut the door. I did 15 minutes of pranayama and 30 minutes of meditation. It really did help me. The pain was still there but it seemed to shrink. It was no longer throbbing and radiating down my neck.

After work, I went to my evening yoga class. During warm up, I scanned my body and noticed that the pain had stiffened up the muscles in my neck and shoulders, even though the pain in my jaw was less severe that earlier in the day. By the end of the class, the tension had been released and I was drenched in sweat and energy.

And to top it off, I shared the class with my 27-year-old daughter. We had a light supper afterward, talking about yoga, football playoffs and life plans. Talk about feel good.

I originally wrote this account as part of my participation in the online course with Kelly McGonigal. It’s been quite enlightening and empowering. We’ll see how it plays out over the next 50 weeks.