“The reason you keep on coming back to see me is very simple; every time you have seen me your body has learned certain things, even against your desire. And finally your body now needs to come back to me to learn more. Let’s say that your body knows that it is going to die, even though you never think about it. So I’ve been telling your body that I too am going to die and before I do I would like to show our body certain things, things which you cannot give to your body yourself… So let’s say then that your body returns to me because I am its friend.”
Carlos Castaneda

Journey to Ixtlan

Using Apanasana to Alleviate Fear of Pain

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On two separate occassions I’ve witnessed a magical and immediate effect of asana on people in pain. I am talking about a sharp physical pain that comes not only with discomfort but also  with fear. In both cases my own physical and emotional proximity enabled me to taste the fear though not the pain. In both cases I felt simultaneously a craving to help and a helplessness since I do not know how to draw out pain from another person. However in both cases it came to me to call upon apanasana as a means of drawing out fear.

Apansana is a simple and accessible posture – so much so that it is easy to underestimate. Consider these qualities:

  • It is a lying posture – if you are ill and in bed you are already half way there.
  • It is a safe posture – most of the body is supported and the range of movement is naturally limited (even more so when done appropriately).
  • It is an inherently adaptive posture – it is very difficult to move beyond your range of movement so injury is almost impossible.
  • It invokes confident movement by combining a personalized experience of static (supported) and dynamic (active).
  • It involves the entire body – it may not look it but the posture involves the entire body – some parts in an obvious way, others in a subtle way.
  • It suggest and leads into proper breathing.
  • It is centering – as the movement occurs around and from the center of the body.

For a person experiencing pain, fear and helplessness this simple posture seems to bring almost immediate empowerment. It restores a sense of connection and control of a body that seems to have run off on a path of destruction. It restores focus and concentration so that even though the pain is still present there is a renewed sense of containment. It restores a sense of presence – an “I”-ness that is separate from and not bound to the pain. It restores a perspective in which pain is a temporary visitor and not a permanent master. It shines a light of hope-for-recovery on the darkness of succumbing-to-illness. It brings a sense of calm in an eye of a storm.

It replaces doubt with faith. Faith brings with it peace. Peace is doorway to healing.

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